Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Missing Reindeer

The Missing Reindeer by [Smith, Zeke]

The Missing Reindeer is a short, illustrated children’s Christmas storybook about a little boy named Sammy. The story follows Sammy who lives with his tribe in Northern Scandinavia where they herd reindeer. When the Reindeer go missing, things seem dire for Sammy and his tribe, and so he decides to make a winter’s wish to Santa Claus. This is a cute little Christmas story about being thankful for what you have and those around you.

The book is a little less than twenty pages long, and each page has only a few sentences of text one it, making it a quick read. It is a perfect story to read to small children around Christmas time as it explores a little of the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, while also being a sweet Christmas story that has hope and thankfulness. The illustrations of the book are pretty and vibrant. I liked the art style of the book which was a little water-color inspired cartoon drawings. I thought that the backgrounds and animals were particularly beautiful. There were a few of the pages where the people in the illustrations seemed a little out of place with the scene or what the text was describing, but overall it worked together nicely.

Christmas stories are always a fun addition to have to read to your children during the winter, and I appreciated that the setting and plot worked together to give this story some originality. Overall The Missing Reindeer by author Zeke Smith is a sweet children’s Christmas tale that shows endearing heart, and lovely illustrations, a perfect combo for a wonderful children’s book.

Pages: 20 | ASIN: B0794V1ZP8

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Painted by Words

Painted by Words is a gorgeously written life story of a small-town girl who goes through many ups and downs, all while keeping a positive outlook on life. I enjoyed this book for the simple fact that I could relate to it, and it was so easy to read. I felt like I was completely immersed in this book, from the beginning to the very end. It was like I was living her life with her. Every chapter detailed a different event in the author’s life, one that was either triumphant or beautiful. All the while, you learn more and more about the author. If you’re looking for a book to while away the hours, then this is definitely the one that you’re going to want to read. Not only does it give you a bit of nostalgia, as the author explains her life as a little girl, but it will bring up memories of your own past mistakes, which can be therapeutic in a way. I believe this is the authors first book, at least her first published work, and it really stands out to me. I liked how intimate she was on every page, the fact that she wasn’t afraid to tell her truth. She didn’t hold back on any account of her memories. Another thing that sets this book apart from so many memoirs that I have read recently, is that the author writes as if she is talking to a friend. It made reading it that much more enjoyable.

There’s nothing better than curling up on a snowy winter day, knowing that you get to sit back and read about someone else’s life. There are so many different stories and lessons to learn from this book. The only thing that I will say is that I wish there was more to read! But I guess she has to live her life first. If she decides to write more books, I will be the first one in line to get them! Thank you for telling us your story.

Pages: 482 | ASIN: B07945T7KB

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Degsy Hay The Hay Patrollers: EVERY COMMUNITY SHOULD ‘AVE’EM

Degsy Hay The Hay Patrollers: EVERY COMMUNITY SHOULD 'AVE'EM (Book Book 2) by [Montgomery, Brian S]

It is often said that those who are best able to prevent youth from being lost in a life of crime are those who have walked that dark path and made it into the light. In Brian Montgomery’s The Hay Patrollers we see the results of characters who have gone through just that. In this second installment we reunite with Degsy Hay and jump straight into the fire, in a manner of speaking. Degsy’s whole world gets tipped upside down, yet he tries to carry on with his passion of giving purpose to those youth who feel like they have none. Degsy’s fight for survival in this book is rooted in passion and desperation. How far will he go?

The book is written in the first person in very relaxed language. As the writer is British, some of the slang might be difficult to make out for those who are unfamiliar with it. It doesn’t detract from the amazing tale that lies within, however. It just means that readers need to allot themselves a proper amount of time as they won’t be able to just blast through this book. It’s not too long but long enough to wrap up any potential loose ends. The series could continue, or it could end right here with this book. Only time will tell.

The human emotion that is displayed in this book is strong enough to evoke the emotions of the reader. The pain, trials and tribulations that Degsy and his crew must face before being able to move forward with their lives are palpable. Children do not choose a life of crime because they want to: they choose it because that is the only avenue left to them. Degsy knows this; he has lived this. He uses his experiences and passion in order to reach out that hand these children so desperately need.

Brian Montgomery hopefully won’t let The Hay Patrollers be the last in his series of juvenile crime-prevention. There is so much more these characters have to give to readers and there are likely more youth who need to read this book and see that there is more to the world than darkness. This book will tug at your heart-strings and leave you wanting more.

Pages: 165 | ASIN: B07MTNX4VB

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Friends of The Tsar

Friends of the Tsar: Miracles from Petrograd to the Outback by [de Graaff, Jon]

Friends of the Tsar, by Jon de Graaff, is a story about the author’s “Aristocratic Grandparent’s harrowing escape from the Russian Revolution of February 1917.”  The story starts near Petrograd, Russia in 1916 with Vera and George, with George and his mother, Adelaide, saving Vera from a wolf attack. They are at the country estate of George’s father, Baron Alexander Zuckschwerdt. Adelaide and Alexander are very much aristocrats. Vera and George are not on board with the aristocratic ways of their parents. Vera, who also came from an aristocratic family, started rejecting her parents’ ways after Bloody Sunday when even children were killed during a protest.

Vera has ten sisters. Three of them come to stay with her. Monica is 16. Mary is 15. Natty is 10. Vera often gets strong premonitions when something bad is about to happen. Blue is Alexander’s friend. He is an Australian cattle breeder. He comes to stay as well. Blue saves Natty from choking. He learned how to do it on a chance visit with friends. Vera sees it as meant to be. Blue tells story after story of things that happened that seem to have a lot of coincidences. Vera does not see them as coincidences at all. He dismissed them as being luck in the past. He now thinks differently.

The family finds itself in trouble. The country is in trouble. Their money is not worth as much. The people in the country are starving. The family decides that they need to leave. Blue offers to let them stay with him in Australia. Alexander books passage for himself, George, Blue, Vera and the girls for February 27, 1917. The story goes on from there to cover how they escaped and the challenges they faced as they did.

I felt that the story could not decide on what the book was going to be. As I went from chapter to chapter, I felt like many of the chapters could have been stand-alone chapters and were not connected very well. It lacked continuity. There are different stories being told that don’t seem to reach any conclusions. At first, I thought the book was going to be a love story about Vera and George. After the first chapter or so, they seemed forgotten and the book focused on Blue’s stories. Then it would jump to near misses while trying to escape and spy stories. I found myself confused a few time. The language seemed a bit stilted and formal and did not flow like normal dialogue in places.

There is a good story in the book though it would benefit from a bit more organization. The author writes well. Some of the stories were definitely interesting. Some of the story lines had definite possibility and begged for further development as the characters were intriguing and were usually placed in exotic locations.

Pages: 126 | ASIN: B071ZQ6CG8

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Cuffed by You

Cuffed by You (SAPD SWAT) by [Mays, Nikki]

Kayla is almost at her wits’ end. Her ex-husband is a loser of massive proportions, and it just so happens that she attempted to drown him. Ridding herself of his insanity has left her alone to work the business his family built together and raise her four small children alone. With a more than just supportive family of in-laws who actually favor her over their own son, Kayla is making her way in the world one day at a time. A chance meeting with the officer who cuffed her during that lapse of better judgment turned drowning incident leads Kayla down the path to a life she thought was no longer in the cards for her.

Nikki Mays has done it again. Cuffed by You is the third installment in her romance series, SAPD SWAT, and it actually may be my favorite of the three. Kayla and Marc, the book’s main focus, are lively and easily visualized characters. Kayla is every single mom striving to make a better life for her children and resigned to the fact that she won’t allow her heart to be broken again. She walks the straight and narrow, for the most part, and is a truly likable character.

Marc, like the other male figures in Mays’s series, is a wonder of nature. As Mays churns out one stunning adjective after another to describe his physique, readers are left wondering how this could still be considered a realistic fiction piece–he is almost too good to be true. Mays is a pro at making her male main characters into loving and caring men who still manage to exude a rough exterior–they are dreams come true. This is only one of the many aspects of Mays’s writing that make her books so exceptionally readable and easily favorited.

As with each of the other books in the series, Mays has included a hateful and spite-filled antagonist. Enter the ex-husband. Mays succeeds in making Kayla’s ex a virtual monster, and the loathing is almost palpable page after page. While the entire cast of characters, including his own mother and brothers gang up against him, the reader is swept into the same vortex of hatred and animosity. Mays makes it easy to despise him while simultaneously building a case for Marc to take his place.

Mays is queen of the banter. Her dialogue between characters dominates the pages and makes the book what it is–a masterpiece of romantic comedy. While she includes a good bit of the traditional romance elements in her writing, she is able to make her characters jump off the page as they bicker back and forth, hurl jovial insults, and generally function as one loving unit of friends-turned-family.

Mays’s writes for her books to be enjoyed and for her characters to be remembered well beyond the last page–she achieves that, no doubt.

Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07L6WLS6Y

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Project Purple

Project Purple by [Greco, Michael]

Project Purple by Michael Greco is a fictional story about thirteen Americans who agree to take part in a social experience (called Project Purple), with their every action filmed and viewed live for the entertainment of the world. The thirteen people will relive an authentic colonial life of American pilgrims (in the year 1613) for four months, with the viewers as the ‘fourteenth colonist.’ The thirteen colonists must build a colony with twelve other strangers, figuring out how to work together. One of the colonists is Henrietta Dobie, known in the colony as Goatwench. But the colonists were lied to and none of them know the truth about the real purpose of the Project. When Rigor, a detective in Las Vegas, is sent a video of the horrific circumstances Goatwench is forced to endure, he’s determined to put a stop to the Project. But the organizers of the Project will stop at nothing to reach their own ends.

The premise of the book was intriguing, and the story kept my interest. I wanted to know what would happen next for the colonists–would any of them survive? It was interesting to see how human nature played out as the different characters reacted to the difficult–and then deadly–situation they found themselves in. I liked that the author told the story from the point of view of several different colonists, which gave much more insight into the individual characters.

I liked the historical aspect of the story. I enjoyed reading details about the clothing, daily tasks, and customs of American colonial life.

The sadistic actions of the people who created Project Purple were detestable; putting thirteen wholly unprepared people into that situation without their full knowledge and consent for the sole purpose of so-called entertainment for the viewing audience and to further the organization’s own agenda.

The story started out slow, with a lot of set up about the detective’s life in Las Vegas and leading into the beginning of Project Purple. The book felt a bit disjointed, jumping back and forth in time, and jumping between the detective and the colonists. It might have improved the flow of the story if the author had started out with the colonists embarking on Project Purple, and once things started to go wrong, then the detective could have been introduced when he received the first video. In the end this is an intriguing exploration of human motivations that plumbs the depths of humanity.

Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07K7N5M2D

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The Gift of the Seer

The Gift of the Seer by [Laugheed, K.B.]When you tire of the overload of digital and technology tools within our 2019 era, K.B. Laugheed’s The Gift of the Seer will expedite time travel back with you, and this author will have you writing with a feathered quill by the end of this literary journey! Put on your cultural anthropologist boots and allow this novel to cleverly weave historical yet fantastical plot elements, interestingly complex characters, and a rugged setting that will definitely transport and immerse readers. You will face cultural nuances, norms, spiritual beliefs, worldviews, philosophies, goals, life lessons, conflicts, natural connections, romances, and myriads of adventures via an Indian perspective. Our protagonist, Katie, provides uncensored reflections and stories spanning from the years 1748-1778. Yet Katie, the book’s protagonist, is not the docile, silent, subjugated, stereotypical, domesticated wife and mother that many heroines from her time era typically portray. Instead, she is a literary and cultural badass-think Katniss from The Hunger Games -but Katie encompasses more maturity, carnal pleasures, and complexities as a woman struggling to survive among different cultures, determined to sustain her love for her husband against all odds, and abandoning the feelings of guilt and condemnation based on her feeling that she’s living a big lie!

In short, adventures, dangers, thrills, and chills will bombard you on every page. Yet instead of feeling defeated and exhausted, you will experience the triumphs and evolution, right alongside Katie, as if you were a passenger in her canoe! The book is brilliant in terms of its vivid, sensory details that paint a no-nonsense picture of life during this era. The characters also conjure feelings of fables and folk tales via the author’s unique, authentic style. At times, I noticed hints of magical realism, which further add pizazz to this riveting book. While there are so many positive qualities about this book, especially the way in which the author develops her vast array of characters and executes her dramatic dialogue, all with cultural relevance and sensitivity, I was a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of social, historical, political, cultural, marital problems and themes that she tries to address all at once. At times it was slightly too ambitious for me to keep track of all the family members, neighbors, friends, and foes. Although they are important, especially to comprehend the larger scope of the historical fiction milieu, some of the symbols were slightly perplexing and some plot events were mentioned but not fully explained.

All in all, because readers can sense the imminent danger on every page, as evident from the great use of foreshadowing and cautionary notes to build suspense throughout the text, as in “til the ocean wave of Colonists comes crashing down upon us—then we will see which of us is right,” We not only learn cultural and historical information through characters with real vulnerability and authenticity, but we also find solace in our own journeys about how to fit into this world and all its challenges! We obtain a true sense of empowerment within this challenging piece of art. Try this time travelling and cultural anthropological plight by K.B. Laugheed in The Gift of the Seer!

Pages: 308 | ASIN: B07L7FHTFC

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Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery

Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery Book 1 by [Bryan, Robert L.]

Mystery readers who love New York: this book is for you. Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery introduces 25-year-old Finn, a fifth-generation police officer from a family that reveres the NYPD. When an unlucky accident ends his NYPD career, Finn becomes the next best thing: a Private Eye. Finn’s new career is off to a rocky start, complete with threadbare office and octogenarian assistant. Luckily, Finn quickly moves beyond the so-called “cavalcade of crazies” and stumbles into his first serious case. Follow Finn as he searches for a missing person who NYPD claims is not missing at all.

In Missing, Robert L. Bryan explores duty, loyalty, and friendship. He also plumbs the depths of vice that simmer in the city: corruption, greed, and crime. Bryan hits his storytelling stride as the details of the case unfurl. The plot moves quickly with confounding clues, hints of danger, and a parade of compelling characters.

Bryan has a knack for provocative characters. Finn’s apparent lack of self-determination can be frustrating—he seemingly rode a conveyer belt from booties to NYPD blues—but he develops into a likable main character. Early client stories, like the time Finn tailed a cat, are charming but lose something in bullet point format. The reader groans when Finn’s most pressing professional dilemma involves a desk chair and cheers when he finally lands a case.

Still, Finn is inscrutable. Other characters respond to him with generosity and affection when he shows none. I think the women in Finn’s world would benefit from added nuance; they are often one-dimensional. Finn’s father is a bright spot: unwavering in his support and helpful when Finn needs it most. We should all be so lucky.

Fans of the boroughs will enjoy devoted descriptions of Queen’s minutiae. Every intersection is noted, every landmark observed. Do I see a Finn Delaney walking tour of Queens in my future? Yes, please.

The book doubles back at times with Finn uncovering clues already revealed; in one notable situation, Finn hits upon the lynchpin of the case twice in seven pages. The book is lightly sprinkled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Despite these minor distractions, Missing is a satisfying mystery and a good read.

Pages: 197 | ASIN: B07L9DBXDN

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Price of Life

Immortals have walked the face of the Earth for over 12,000 years now. For the most part they have lived at peace with humans, taking only what they need to survive. A cross between a vampire and mythical healer, these immortals have the power to heal humans or take their life force, ageing them to death. It is from this feeding of a life force they gain their immortality. Most will only feed off the those that cause harm to the world. However, there are those immortals that believe they are a god race and it is their job to purge the Earth of humans and start over. Price of Life by David Crane is the story of how immortals got to present day and the battle between the two factions over the future of the human race.

The novel reminded me of the Highlander series, there can be only one! But, aside from the beheading to kill an immortal, that is where it ends. The immortals in David Crane’s novel are more like vampires that are sustained by the lifeforce of the world around them. Humans are the “best” quality food, but any living organisms can sustain them. Together they have lived in peace for over 12,000 years. The flashbacks from modern time to tell the story of where each immortal comes from is in-depth. Nonfiction and fiction blend seamlessly in this work. The details about Hitler and the concentration camp will bring you to tears hearing the stories and make you cheer as immortals avenge the death of their families at the hands of the Nazi soldiers. In some novels, flashbacks are too confusing to keep up with, but this is done so well that it is seamless, and you get a full picture. The subplots all tie into the main story line in a way that makes sense. All the lives and stories fit. From early mankind villages, to war torn Europe, to modern America facing many of the challenges we see even still today in the news, it all combines to tell a story that you want to read. The character development is built into the flashbacks and lets the reader really get to know each person involved. There are surprise twists, good is not always nice and on the right side of the law, bad is not always malice. The lines are blurred in a way to a keep the balance in check.

One of my favorite characters is Dina, she is an immortal with a special ability to see the future, it has made her wealthy and she uses her gift to better the world where she can. She saw the horrors of what Hitler would do to the world and she wanted nothing more than to stop it. Her passion is helping people, using her immortality to better the Earth and advance humans, not hold them back. When she has visions of Los Angeles being destroyed and the end of all human life at the hand of immortals, she must figure out how to stop things.

Immortals are left to choose what side they want to be on, they must work together to save the world they helped shape and create. It is a great novel about survival, compassion, history and how it shapes the future. A thrilling novel to see if humans can be saved before they become nothing more than slaves and a food source for the immortals that believe themselves to be gods.

Pages: 318 | ASIN: B00Y424WD6

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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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