Category Archives: Book Reviews

VanWest The Past

VanWest The Past by [Kenneth Thomas]

VanWest The Past by Kenneth Thomas is a thrilling intergalactic, dystopian space adventure taking place in the year 3000. Captain VanWest is our infallible protagonist. His mission is to escape the authoritarian society under the control of the Universal Council in order to reach the year 1951. The scenes and settings of all the years and places are extremely vivid and detailed, whether it be the futuristic Black Mirror-esque 3000 or simply 1990s Florida. VanWest has to prove again and again the strength of his character as he battles impossible odds, so that the restoration of the Earth to an earlier, brighter time may be possible.

It wasn’t a stretch for me to imagine that this would be our world in a few centuries or so. The author has created an extremely believable dystopia, simply by extrapolating the consequences of mankind’s current issues: everything from the deteriorating state of the environment or an increasingly unstable global political atmosphere. The best and scariest dystopian novels are those which aren’t too far from our reality.

The side plots are also well-developed. Even though VanWest is single-minded with his mission, he faces numerous other personal issues, including a complicated romantic situation that poses a threat to his goals. The way he navigates his moral, social, and ethical dilemmas is also presented in a very interesting way. Even though he had to make some tough choices along the way, VanWest remained consistent to his character and had me rooting for him throughout.

A lot of the creepy crawly creatures and characters of this book reminded me of a variety of other great stories I had read in the past. It harkens back to everything from Brave New World in the way it portrays the nature of the ruling body and Percy Jackson in the way its action scenes are jam-packed and relentless. I thought it was the mark of  great science fiction noveol the way it incorporated the best elements from some of the best examples in the field.

The pace is extremely fast, but it is suitable for the nature of the plot. Even though it ended in a cliffhanger, it felt like a well-rounded end to an enthralling story. I cannot wait for the next in the series.

Pages: 168 | ASIN: B088WYFK9Q

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Fathering the Fatherless

Fathering the Fatherless by Todd Johnson is an enlightening book that explores the issue of fatherlessness. This touching book describes the issue very well and then goes on to explaining some possible solutions. A home without a father is traumatic for children and can lead to all kinds of societal and personal issues.

Todd Johnson does an exceptional job at relaying the statistics involved with fatherless homes and it really drives home the point that a father in a family and home is important for a child’s development.

Readers also get a bit of a memoir tucked into this informative book. Todd Johnson shares personal stories that are heartening and relatable. Readers get to build a connection to the author and this makes his message resonate so much more.

Faith and God are strong themes throughout this enriching book. Todd explains how these work together. The conclusion of the book includes testimonies from men who have stepped up to be fathers that I found to be stirring and inspiring.

Fathering the Fatherless by Todd Johnson is great for anyone looking to support a fatherless family, anyone looking to go into social work, or anyone that wants more information on the impact a fatherless home has.

Pages: 88 | ISBN-10: 1728333121

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The Revelations of August Barton

The Revelations of August Barton by [Jennifer LeBlanc]

The Revelations of August Barton is a contemporary romance novel by Jennifer LeBlanc. A coming of age story which is a sequel to Tribulations of August Barton. This young adult book is a continuation of the life of August Barton and his love Rose. August is faced with many difficult challenges throughout the story that throw into question his and Rose’s ability to be together. This is a drama filled story with family secrets, confessions, drunken bachelorette parties and layers of family problems that all hit August Barton like a tornado. Will he be able to overcome them?

What I like most about The Revelations of August Barton is that it’s not a cliché teen love story, although it may seem like it at first. Jennifer LeBlanc is able to make the story relatable and believable and because of this I found the story to be immensely engaging. The Revelations of August Barton is full of weighty teenage agony that resonates with truth. In this story we get to see new sides of August Barton as he’s faced with new obstacles and I was amazed at how he continued to grow into a much more dynamic and layered character. This reminds me of a show that should be on The CW network, but maybe not as melodramatic as the shows on that television network.

I suppose I should give a spoiler alert, although it’s not much of a spoiler, August is able to solve his life’s problems and bring all the broken pieces together, but the way in which he does it was something I won’t ruin because I believe that is what this story is about. The journey of putting your life back together after it falls apart. This is one of the greatest milestones in this book. It shows readers just how strong one can be if they summon their strength and willpower into what they want. The main theme of the book is love and family and Jennifer is able to mingle these things into a rich heartfelt fictional story that left me a bit wistful. The life of Grandma Gertie, Rose, August, John and Diane is a perfect image of love and family. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, they do not give up on each other. They build each other up and most importantly, they forgive. Jennifer LeBlanc has done a fantastic job of using humor to bring levity to some weighty situations while also underlining some poignant themes. The book has strong language that might be a problem to some readers on the younger side, but otherwise I think it fits well in the college romance genre.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07F5JF3T5

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The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

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They Walk Alone

They Walk Alone by Bob Kern is a memoir detailing his experiences caring for several loved ones with dementia. This is a personal story that will undoubtedly leave you on the edge of tears, if not crying. So be warned, this story is deeply emotional, but within these pages Bob Kern is also able to inform and educate others that are caring for a loved one with dementia.

They Walk Alone is striking in it’s ability to vividly paint the picture of Mamaw. I felt as if I was with the family, living the moments of joy and heartache. I don’t have a loved one with dementia, but this novel was able to enlighten me and now I am able to appreciate the difficulties one faces when caring for someone with this terrible disease.

Dementia transforms the person you knew. Bob Kern captures that slow transformation eloquently and with warm sentiment. I could feel the love and I could feel the pain, and I appreciated how open and honest this book was. The stories shared throughout the book were stories we could all relate to, they were of people we all probably know, and this is what makes the book so sad. We can see in Mamaw our own grandmother.

They Walk Alone is a touching story about Bob Kern’s journey tending to loved ones diagnosed with dementia. He even details the loss of someone suffering from dementia. Readers get a personal account of Bob’s life as he moves through the different stages of dementia. If you enjoy true, honest, and impassioned stories that are also informative then this book is perfect for you.

Pages: 141 | ASIN: B06XDX1XCV

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The Aqua Human

The Aqua Human by [J. Elizaga]

The Aqua Human by J. Elizaga is a beautiful short story about a young teenager in the Pacific during World War II. The protagonist, young Amaya, is thrust into a dangerous situation and must escape when she goes through a mysterious and unknown transformation. From here she discoveries fantastical new physical abilities underwater and must find her own way to survive.

There are many aspects of this short story that I loved from the very first page. The Aqua Human starts strong with an intense scene that immediately catches the reader’s attention. Even the very first paragraph hooks you as you are thrown into a confronting scene amid World War II. These first few pages introduce you to the protagonist’s father, Bayani, and the actions he takes here gives you a strong image of who he is and what he values above everything and everyone, which added a lot of urgency to this opening scene.

Even though this is an engaging read right up to the very end, I felt that the last quarter felt a bit desultory. Perhaps this was due to the nature of the short story format, if The Aqua Human had ten more pages the ending would be much more satisfying to me, otherwise I did enjoy the ending as it is.

The emotional intensity of this short story doesn’t decline from here but the pace does slow down and gives you time with the protagonist, Amaya, as she undergoes a mysterious and fantastical transformation. Personally, my favorite part of the story is right before the halfway point when Elizaga describes an absolutely beautiful setting of what seems like an entirely new and different world. It was during these parts of The Aqua Human that left me in awe and with an ongoing admiration for the author.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07W3DX48L

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Tentoria

Tentoria by [Sorin Banu]

In Sorin Banu’s epic dystopian science fiction novel, man creates a group of human-like cyborgs called Tentorians to end a new world war in the 22nd century. From that point onwards, the Tentorians grow and morph into power-hungry killing machines. They pose a threat to all around them and end up being forcefully ejected from their first settlement by an alliance of nations of the earth. These Tentorians then proceed to create a sovereign state called Tentoria. Here, a new leader envisions a future marked by peaceful coexistence between Tentorians and the rest of mankind. But some powerful Tentorians would have none of that. These rebels set their sights on forcefully taking over the otherworldly Island as their new home. In a series of revealing and riveting events, Cole, a 27-year old Islander, a surprising ally and the Island’s authorities try to protect this unique piece of land. But how will this end? Will the soulless cyborgs seize the last place on earth where people could truly live as humans?

Sorin Banu pings us between the 21st and the 25th centuries as he tells a story of a fallen world. He  artfully illustrates what the earth might look like in the 25th century based on man’s hunger to continually tinker with technology. Banu’s fictional future is marked by stunning advancements in the development of artificial intelligence. But he doesn’t just create futuristic innovations many already envision; he shows us where such breakthroughs could lead humanity.

In this book, Banu suggests that man’s technological creations could come back to haunt him. According to Banu we could end up creating real-life terminators that would later turn on us. But the problem could even run deeper. We could lose our essence as humans.

To drive home his point, he uses an intriguing story line to highlight the things that make us human and how technology could take them away from us. And this wouldn’t be because we created cyborgs to fight our wars. It would be because we’d become overly attached to technology. As we seek greater control and improved solutions, nature’s imprints on our lives will slowly fade away.

The book’s central theme was just one of the many things that thrilled me. Amongst those other things was how Banu weaved the story. I could easily follow the plot even though the author was going back and forth in time. He was also smart enough to insert gaps that kept me guessing and coming up with plausible theories. Also, the characters were relatable, and I could share their emotions.

The book engages your mind, challenges you to reassess some values and appreciate both the limitations and privileges of being human.

Pages: 352 | ASIN: B07QF59Y92

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