Category Archives: Book Reviews

Abraham’s Tears

Bruce Stein’s novel, Abraham’s Tears, takes readers on an educational and eye-opening journey surrounding the conflict in the Middle East. We learn the values and beliefs of two families- one of Israeli/Jewish decent and the other with a Palestinian/Muslim background. The question of what can be done to bring peace between the religions and the ethnicities is explored through an emotional and exciting tale, supporting Ghandi’s prophecy of “An eye for an eye makes a whole world blind.”

The two protagonists are Jamil Monsour and Jacob Goodman. Proud of their religion and heritage, they have strong views surrounding the reasons for the divided state of the middle East and solutions for peace. Jamil grew up believing he was a Shiite, then learns he was actually born a Sunni that had been adopted as a baby. Jacob grew up believing he was Jewish and was even serving in the IDF, only to learn that he was also adopted and had been born to an Arab/ Muslim family. The revaluation of their previously unknown identities comes as a shock to both young men, making them question their beliefs. This realization brings into question if someone is who they are born as, or who they are raised as. Through horrible loss and tragedy, hope is instilled in the end, as two women from opposing sides are brought together to fight for peace and an end to the senseless fighting and killings. Author Bruce Stein creates rich, believable and empathetic characters in his thought-provoking novel. I really enjoyed the thoughtful character development and the emotional journey the characters embark on.

Abraham’s Tears will appeal to readers looking for an educational novel. This is a thought provoking story that provides readers with different viewpoints and reasons for the events that are happening in the Middle East. This book brought a humanistic aspect to the topic, making it feel close to home. Bruce Stein has created characters that are easy to identify with. Seeing the way this conflict affects everyone involved, no matter where they are living, was an eye-opening realization.

Pages: 185 | ASIN: B009368OLE

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Chad’tu

Chad’tu is a period piece set in the old west, a time when cattleman and Native Americans fought for land. Immersed in the period of gunslingers and cattle ranchers, this narrative follows the accounts of Chad’tu, a man who goes on a quest to save his abducted wife. Separated from his family at a young age, Chad’tu drifted from one person to another, mostly learning the ways of a warrior from his Native American father, Shatika, who had adopted him, and then trained by a master gunsmith named Brett Tishman. Although much of the novel unfolds in retrospect, through a series of flashbacks intermingled with the events that are taking place in Chad’s present life, the story has a surprisingly strong grip on the reader with its unique taste for suspense and thrill.

Set in a forgotten world, this novel encapsulates the nostalgia of the old world gun fighting days. The quintessential style that every gunslinger in town tried to emulate and was thereby worshipped within the scope of Western movies ranging from Clint Eastwood to Eli Wallach, has been skillfully rendered in this story too. Their tradition of measuring opponents from a distance, the typical broad hat, the nonchalant poker face which never gave away any emotions, the indifference with which they carried themselves, their fierce loyalty to their own principles and their heroic struggle to take back what was rightfully theirs, has all been religiously followed and reflected in this riveting novel.

In fact, one can visualize with clarity the scenes where characters in the story are involved in street fights or get bested by their superiors and are left abandoned to fate. It demonstrates the author’s command over the language, not only in the use of different dialects and accents but also in the depth of their knowledge regarding this specific genre. It is one thing to imbibe the structural formulae of a particular narrative style but it is another thing to reconstruct a distinct narrative that follows every genre convention while also adding their own nuances to it. What is surprising to note is that, in spite of being written during the 21st century, much of the character’s thought processes and beliefs are authentic to the time period.

Chad’tu by Kelsie R. Gates is a gripping tale of adventure that will mesmerize readers from all walks of life. Readers will be transported back in time to the old west and relive the excitement and adventures of those that lived by a different code.

Pages: 354 | ASIN: B08XSQC494

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A View From My Bay

Vincent Green is a man that struggles to be heard due to injuries related to 9/11. A View From My Bay is his way of letting his voice be heard. There is often a mystery to men of greatness. A person can be considered great for the battles they win, the lives they save or the life they live. Vincent Green has done all these things in his lifetime. In his intimate memoir A View from My Bay we are exposed to Vincent, or Vinny, the man. Readers experience his humble origins and his journey to the heights of his career and personal life. This book is both inspiring and personal. Part autobiography part memoir, Vinny shares parts of his soul that made him into the man he is today.

Green has climbed from what many would describe as the bottom of the socio-economic ladder to impressive heights. Well respected and regarded through his law enforcement career he has shared his skills and knowledge with leaders from across the world. This illuminating biography shares his skills and his talents in fighting corruption like those heroes we all watched on television when we were young. He is more than an impressive male role model for young men and women. He is a human being with thoughts and feelings. He has granted us his grace in sharing those pieces of himself through this book.

A collection of styles are used by Green to share his emotions, thoughts, and ideals. These are pieces of his past and the incredible experiences he has lived. The first book in a planned trilogy, readers will get to experience the specific moments in time that helped shape Green into the person he became. The praises he attributes to his parents, the respect he gives to his dearly departed sister and the specks of his own soul.

A View from My Bay by Vincent Green is a humble and awe-inspiring glimpse into the world that shaped Vinny into the amazing person he became. These snippets and pieces are not inflated with hot air or selfish praises. These are beautiful portraits of a singular man who has risen from what others would call the depths. He does not deny his humble origins, yet he doesn’t attempt to make a ‘success’ story for himself out of them. He simply exists and shares his soul with his readers. And readers are better for it.

Pages: 278 | ASIN: B074R5FKTX

Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in plain sight by Thomas LeBrun, is the action-filled true story detailing a famous executive protection specialist’s life. It takes readers through his childhood, to his approach to weightlifting and martial arts all the way to providing security for entertainers.

LeBrun writes in an engaging way and explains his job in detail, underlining the difference between himself and a bodyguard, as he is an executive protection specialist. His life is intriguing, and the narration provides provocative details, but while there are some specifics about his family that are shared with the reader, the focus remains on sharing experiences of events in his storied life rather than taking a deep emotional dive into them.

I appreciated all the references to pop culture of the time. This does an excellent job of setting the backdrop of the story, making it feel grounded and immersing readers in that time. And these cultural references also serve to focus the story, and the reader, on deeper themes such as the attack on the twin towers or Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

I enjoyed the photos that are included in the book. It made the book feel familiar and personal, so they were deeply appreciated. I enjoyed the book and felt it was an illuminating memoir. It provides an intriguing examination of ‘toxic masculinity’ and shows how persistence and hard work pays off.

Hiding in Plain Sight is a thought-provoking memoir that takes readers through the various personal moments in Thomas Lebrun’s life. The author also includes personal items that help the reader connect with his life; like his reference letters, photos and quotes from real people. This helps the story feel authentic and I think will it appeal to most readers. I would like to end this review with the author’s quote: “Further, I explained that Executive Protection Specialists operate as low-profile chameleon. With me, I called it “hiding in plain sight”.”

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B08YNX6KC5

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Braiding Roses

Braiding Roses: An outback doctor sweet romance by [Elise Stoltenbreck]

Braiding Roses, by Elise Stoltenbreck, is the story of a young doctor named Mandy who has her five-year plan all figured out and is ready to start her future. Her plans are derailed after having to do a year’s residency in the town of Manjimup working under meticulous Gareth, the head doctor.

Stoltenbreck does a great job capturing imagery through her scenes with vibrant descriptions. She brings a authenticity to her characters that had me feeling like I could walk into Manjimup hospital and ask to see Gareth.

This inspirational romance novel will appeal to readers that want an authentic Australian experience. The story is set in the Australian outback, an area that I love seeing in literature. Stoltenbreck uses Aussie dialect in the novel adding to it’s realistic nature and giving the characters real personality and depth. Care was taken by the author to allow the reader to be fully immersed in Aussie culture.

While classified as a romance novel, I think that this story is more about the building of a relationship. You will not find steamy sex scenes and pages of passion, but this book had one of the biggest build-ups between the female and male character that I’ve ever read. This impassioned book has shown me, romance is a story about love, and lust isn’t always needed.

This book is near perfection as it shows two stubborn minds falling in love instead of the typical lust-filled stories out there. This book sends an emotionally-resonant message of love. While predictable at times, it is still a fun contemporary romance story.

Braiding Roses by Elise Stoltenbreck is a sweet and clean romance story between two people that get thrown together in life due to unforeseen circumstances. This riveting novel will appeal to readers that enjoy a love story without sex and that focuses on the personalities and genuine feelings of the characters. This is also a great book for readers looking for an alluring romance story in an exotic setting.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B09DB7TQH1

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The Problem with Poppy (The Sumatran Trilogy) 

The Problem with Poppy (The Sumatran Trilogy) by [Emma Sandford, Olena Osadcha]

It is hard being a porcupine. Poppy is a young porcupine that scares easily due to being mistreated in the past. Now when someone new approaches her she sticks out her quills, stomping her feet, and hissing at them. It makes it very hard to find new friends, and Poppy is very lonely because of this. One day a young tiger tried to make friends with Poppy and she scared him away, instantly feeling bad. Today was going to be different though, today Poppy was going to go find the little tiger and apologize. After finding the young tiger disaster strikes and Poppy must overcome her fears to save her new friend.

I found the development of Poppy’s character appealing. A timid little porcupine that reacts with fear to all new interactions, turns into a character that is strong and loyal. Poppy will be relatable to young children that are often afraid of new people and situations. Poppy shows them that it is okay to be afraid while still doing new things.

When looking for a children’s book that has a meaningful message, captivating illustrations, and a unique story line look no further. Emma Sandford’s picture book The Problem with Poppy hits all the right marks for children and the young at heart. The reading level is ideal for kindergarteners and those that are on an early elementary reading level.

Pages: 17 | ASIN: B095XF3RK5

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Dear Barack

Dear Barack: The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel by [Claudia Clark]

Human beings can always find common ground if they try hard enough. Being on two sides of disagreeing continents does not necessitate an enmity. Barack Obama and Angela Merkel understood this. It did not start with an obvious affinity for each other. Angela Merkel was adamant to warm up to the incumbent president of the U.S. Barack Obama was desperate to repair the strained relationship between America and Europe as well as get the country through the recession. He had his work cut out for him. It took a while but they finally developed a relationship based on mutual respect and genuine friendship as well as a harmonious effort to serve their people. Author Claudia Clark does a fantastic job of bringing this all together in her illuminating book, Dear Barack.

This is basically a buddy story. Only it is not fiction and the main characters are two of the most powerful people in the world. It is an eye-opening story about the human capacity to overcome the urge to become enemies in the pursuit of the interests that suit their cause. It may have been a difficult time in more ways than one but these two leaders were guiding lights not just for the people in their countries but for the world. It also renews hope that good leaders do exist, especially after the administration that succeeded Obama’s. The story is especially interesting that both of them were outliers – Barack, the first black president, and Angela, a female leader in the free world.

Claudia Clark has narrated history in a way that is engaging and uplifting. You do not need to be a history fanatic to enjoy this book. The author conveys history in a way that is compelling and captivating. She pulls in the reader and puts them in the meetings and private conversations between the two. This is a well-researched account of the inspiring relationship between these two highly admired leaders. Her regard for both of them shines through her words and her tone.

The author even adds a little bit of Obama’s wit and charm to the story. Her narration is nothing short of gripping. It is the kind of book you discuss with your friends and family because there is so much intellectually invigorating content.

You cannot help but shed a tear when Angela does as she watched her friend and fellow leader leave office. You will definitely chuckle when you read about Obama’s sign-off to his friend. Dear Barack is a beautifully written book about a wonderful partnership.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B09HL8VQB1

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Our 20/20 Journey Back to School

Our 20/20 Journey Back to School by [Maria Thompson, Daria Shamolina]

The year of 2020, one none of us will soon forget. For teachers this is especially true. Teachers and students were thrown into a new world of uncertainty and change. What was not expected, was how strong students and teachers would come out of this year. Maria Cedolini Thompson’s children’s book, Our 20/20 Journey Back to School, is one of perseverance, strength, and having a positive attitude in the wake of things that you can not change.

This story gives a teacher’s perspective to children on the events of the past year without fear or an agenda, just explaining things in a way children in elementary grades can understand and empathize with. Thompson address the fears children had and applauded their successes.  

Daria Shamolina has illustrated this book that is engaging, creative and just fun. One example is the children all have masks with funny faces on them. The colors are vibrant and draw the reader into the story. Together the prose and illustrations make for a touching story, a teachers passion to teach, and children’s desire to be in the classroom learning.  Our 20/20 Journey Back to School by Maria Cedolini Thompson will delight readers of all ages with a bright outlook for getting through a COVID world stronger.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B09JW2WHHK

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