Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Perfect Sister

THE PERFECT SISTER by [Meath, Gail]

The Perfect Sister by Gail Meath is the story of a young woman who desperately wants to protect the reputation and dignity of the sister she has recently lost to murder. Katherine wants to keep her secrets secret while figuring out the details of the crime. She gets swept up and is determined to prove the innocence of the man everyone else thinks is guilty.

Meath writes in a way that makes Katherine’s predicament relatable. She is devastated over the loss of her sister, but her father doesn’t make things better. She knows she was not her father’s favorite. She knows that her father would rather have lost her than her sister. She is made to feel deeply flawed and imperfect in comparison to Lorraine. Katherine knows her sister was a wonderful person, but she also knows that she wasn’t perfect and had things to hide.

Meath also gives us insight to a man who is presumed guilty instead of innocent. Michael plays an opposite role to the man Lorraine was to be married off to. Michael has worked hard to keep and grow his family farm. He definitely doesn’t fit into the affluent crowd that the sisters run with. None of this diminishes his character, but it makes him an easy target for the wealthy to pin sins on.

I think that everyone can relate to these characters in one way or another because everyone knows what loss feels like and what it feels like to be viewed as “less than”. Meath’s well-developed characters and fascinating plot will reel readers in from the very first page. I can’t relate to being rich. I can’t relate to being involved somehow in a murder. I can, however, relate to the farm life. I think there is some facet that virtually everyone can relate to within these pages.

The time period makes the story even more fascinating for me. It is set in 1904. Life was so different. Modern forensics would have likely exonerated Michael almost immediately. They didn’t have that luxury. They wouldn’t just believe his word either because of his social status. These things set the scene for a story that is even more mysterious and daunting.

Meath writes in a way that lures you in. The Perfect Sister is a real page-turner from the jump. The characters are so interesting, and the story is complex. Meath weaves together a story that is multi-layered without muddying the plot. I’d love to read more about these characters in different books.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07ZZHTCBX

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Best Behaviour

The workplace is ever-changing and there is a need to change how teams are lead and how training is conducted. Tom Holmwood suggests a system where leaders inspire instead of expecting pliancy. This book is an informative and educational road-map to better leadership in today’s environment.

Tony Holmwood speaks from a place of expertise and his command of the subject matter is evident. He provides evidence and sound arguments to support his approaches to the use of behavior to improve the workplace. His method does not disprove the traditional productivity centered approaches. He simply says that there is more to employees than the bottom line. Motivation is about more than just getting everyone in line. This approach to management shows a concern for the employee and their stance on issues. It shows recognition that the employee is not an asset to the company but rather a partner in success, thus, their opinion is of grave importance. This is a new perspective for me, but I found myself agreeing with many of the points put fourth.

Best Behaviour is an exceptionally well researched book, containing the appropriate tools required to implement the guidelines in your own company. Best Behaviour provides an actionable road-map that is thorough yet flexible enough to fit your unique position. Tony Holmwood has done an excellent job of using simple language to convey his ideas of managing people and their skills. This book left me with an appreciation for the employee as an individual, and a new perspective on how to manage that individual rather than the employee.

This type of leadership can be transformational for companies, organizations and even small teams that want to move away from an authoritarian type of leadership. Tony Holmwood allows readers to explore this concept with fresh eyes, unencumbered by a transactional culture deeply embedded in our society.

If you’re ready for a new approach to leadership, Tony Holmwood presents a brilliant alternative that allows one to see the benefits regardless of their position on the organizational food chain. This is not the first time transformational leadership has been tried, however the layered but simple way in which the idea is expressed in this book brings it to a new level.

Pages: 266 | ASIN: B07QZXTWVQ

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Young Offender

Young Offender by [Maisey, Michael]

Michael makes his entrance to the world in an uneventful fashion, but little does he know that life is about to deal him a series of devastating blows. Forced to go on the run with his mother in an attempt to get away from his abusive father, young Michael learns next to nothing about what it means to be nurtured and protected by loved ones. His mother’s addiction to alcohol tears her away from him and he soon finds himself looking for care, empathy and a sense of belonging in all the wrong places. The arms of crime and addiction become his ”safe place.” But how does his story end? Does he find his way to redemption or do his relentless demons prove too difficult to be vanquished?

Young Offender by Michael Maisey smashes the stereotype of memoirs being unimaginative. I was helplessly hooked by the surreal nature of the writer’s escapades (I feel tempted to share a few but I’ll let you find out for yourself). I turned each page, curious to see where his self-sabotaging adventures would lead him to next.

The majority of the occurrences took place in London in the 1990s and 2000s. Maisey was careful to include relevant details about places where he grew up or called home, but he was clearly (and thankfully) more interested in telling his story than in describing his environment in detail. Altogether, we can get a decent feel of the state of the locations where he spent some time.

I found Maisey’s portrayal of the main character highly intriguing. ”But what could be so special about telling a story about one’s self?” you might wonder. Well, Maisey’s secret ingredients were brutal honesty and inspiring courage. He gave us unfettered access even to the darkest and most convoluted workings of his mind as he exchanged punches with life. He held nothing back. Going by the way he related some unpleasant memories, it was clear that unearthing them for documentation was an incredibly difficult process. He had to do it to invite readers into his story and make them feel the weight of the pain, guilt and struggles of an addict.

It’s worth mentioning that a few bloopers appeared in the book though. For example, on numerous occasions, names of certain characters were erroneously replaced by new ones, so while reading, you need to pay close attention so you don’t get confused due to those errors.

My pick of the positives of the book is the vividness of the thematic pictures the writer paints. He shows us the impacts of a dysfunctional family on the children, the significance of proper role models, and my personal favourite: the nature of the path to serious change. Each of his experiences, mistakes and victories hold invaluable lessons for the keen mind. This is no ordinary story.

If you are a fan of zero nonsense, riveting and emotional real-life stories, Young Offender is one book you should read. Who knows, you might even shed a tear or two, like I did.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B07MTPSX1M

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Harvest

Harvest by [Werby, Olga]

Harvest by Olga Werby is an imaginative and disturbing intergalactic science fiction novel. It is about Dr. Varsaad Volhard, a socio-historian who is given the responsibility of initiating contact and trying to understand the artifact found on a strange new planet. This task is handed to her by the Earth Planetary Space Agency which she has always considered in high regard. She understands the burden of this task and charges on undaunted. However, at the same time, her father, Dr. Matteo Volhard makes an unnerving discovery which could have an impact on her work and possibly the whole planet. There appears to be an uncanny connection between the work of both father and daughter. It’s a race against time and threatening mysteries as they try to figure out how to save humanity before it is too late.

The story begins with a ‘ProLog’ where we find that a man’s exoskeleton equipment is failing, Iron Man style. It’s an intense and frantic description of a man vs technology conflict. Add to this a Martian landscape; it was definitely an exciting if jarring start.

The story continues in the adrenaline-fueled manner of the beginning, expecting the reader to keep up with all the sudden twists and turns, and the totally new technology. Although a lot of technical terminology is thrown around, it is rarely confusing. This is because the author has a way of cutting straight to the point- lending to a perfectly paced narrative. All this is done without compromising the humanity of the story. The story is interspersed with gorgeous and detailed sketches of the characters and technology. It complements the narrative perfectly and makes it an engaging read. The characters are well-rounded. Both Matteo and Varsaad are far from perfect people. They deal with their surroundings and situation to the best of their ability and often experience very human flaws and emotions.

I was also surprised by the level of knowledge and detail displayed in the story. Everything from planetary positions to ship design- it was clear that the author knew what she was talking about. It felt almost educational at points, but in the best way possible. It is a creepy tale without being dystopian- as it manages to strike the right balance between realistic fears and imaginative crises.

It’s a great read, so much so that it transcends the nature of its genre. All the elements of a well-told story are present and make for an enthralling adventure.

Pages: 420 | ASIN:  B07R8HGKWN

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I Know When You’re Going To Die

I Know When You're Going To Die by [Bowler, Michael J.]

I Know When You’re Going to Die by Michael J. Bowler is a Young Adult fiction novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Leonardo Cantrell. While working at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, Leo meets a man who passes on a gift–or a curse–the ability to look into a person’s eyes and see their Death. He knows when it will occur, but the details of how it will happen are hazy. When Leo sees his friend, J.C.’s murder, he can’t stand by and do nothing. Can Leo and J.C. discover the killer’s identity and prevent J.C.’s death before it’s too late?

I Know When You’re Going to Die was a book I enjoyed reading because of the author’s unique writing style couple with an intriguing plot. The book raises many interesting questions and left me with many interesting fantasies in my own head; can you change the future if you know what’s going to happen? And even if you can change things, should you? What are the consequences of that decision?

I liked the mystery driving this story forward and I had a fun time trying to put the clues together in order to guess who wanted to kill J.C. The story is replete with red herrings and misdirection that left me spinning, I couldn’t figure out how all the pieces fit together until everything was revealed at the end of the book; which was fantastic. The inclusion of the old house with the secret passages was a fun element in the story.

I liked reading about the juxtaposition between Leo, J.C., and Laura’s typical teenage life, going to classes and dealing with bullies at school, and the life-and-death matter of the trio trying to figure out how they’re going to prevent J.C.’s murder.

Although I thought the characters were well developed, and interesting, I had a bit of an issue with some of the reasoning behind the characters’ actions. At times, it didn’t seem logical. For example, why would Leo automatically assume the killer was not after him when he had never looked into his own eyes in the mirror to see his own death?

But this is a mild issue born out of my fascination with the novel. I Know When You’re Going to Die is an enchanting novel that had me hooked right until the end.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B07Z48BHH4

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The Mission to End Slavery

The Mission to End Slavery by [Akinmolasire, Denis Olasehinde]

The Mission to End Slavery by Denis Olasehinde Akinmolasire is a book that asks an important question. What if slavery never existed? How would it affect our world? Femi Adebayo has fought long and hard over the idea that black people’s lives are more challenging than anyone else. When he crosses paths with Mr. Diggity, who makes an impossible offer to him. Femi is taken back in time to a time when slavery existed. He is forced to watch the brutality of slavery and it’s toll on humanity. Believing he can stop it, Femi set out on a mission to end slavery.

Denis Olasehinde Akinmolasire has created a bold story centered around a thought-provoking question that is alluring yet out of reach. In this novel Akinmolasire is able to pose many moral questions using historic context, along with the idea that no matter what has happened, we can not change it. History is important. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, it brings us together through a shared experience. I felt like this novel invites the reader to take part in controversial topics and see it from a new perspective.

I liked Femi’s character arc, although he didn’t stand out in the beginning of the story, overtime his character began to grow on me. He is living in the modern world and claims that racism still exists. As I was reading all his rants at the beginning of the novel, and we get to understand how he feel about the way he was treated, I kept telling mentally him, ‘It was a part of history!’ And at this moment I realized how engaged I was with this novel.

The Mission to End Slavery is a well-written and compelling work of fiction. This could be considered science fiction due to the time travel elements, but I think of this book as more of a historical and philosophical work of fiction that presents provocative questions and explores unknowable answers. I enjoyed the detailed and well researched historical events that supplemented the story. The novel was slow to start but I was glued to the page when Femi went back in time and was face to face with the Yoruba tribe.

I enjoyed reading The Mission to End Slavery as the emotions were palpable and the characters were believable. It was an eyeopening read that left me with many questions to reflect on.

Pages: 318 |ASIN: B0825H8JV6

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Dogs Don’t Lie

Dogs Don't Lie: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery by [Shay, Lisa]

Dogs Don’t Lie by Lisa Shay is an exciting story that’s part murder mystery and part psychic fiction mixed with a hint of romance. Shay’s protagonist, Kallie, is a strong and independent woman. She is a veterinarian whose gifts go well beyond stitches and x-rays. She has developed the ability to clearly communicate with animals. Animals can “talk” to her in a way through feelings, senses, and visions. Kallie is called in to see about an animal at a murder scene, and soon becomes an invaluable resource to local authorities. She meets Ben, a detective on the scene, and soon it becomes apparent that Kallie and Ben’s relationship may go beyond work.

Shay does an amazing job of giving the animals in the story a “voice.” The way the words are written come across in a way that you could imagine an animal would communicate. The animals pick up on things that people wouldn’t likely notice. They see, smell, and observe things in a much different way from a  much different perspective. Shay writes these communications in short choppy sentences. “Warm sunshine. Insects buzzing. Sweet grass. The scent of fresh turned soil.” This is a brilliant way of conveying the stories of our four legged friends who can be such important witnesses.

I love a protagonist like Kallie. She is a tough girl. She is strong without being hard. She can handle herself for sure. She doesn’t need much help from anyone, but decides to let someone in now and then. I love her grit and independence. As stated, she is tough but animals certainly soften her edges. This is something that most everyone can identify with. She’s very relatable. Another relatable theme is her somewhat meddling mother. She’s constantly commenting on her clothes. She’s always looking to set her up with a potential mate. She’s basically in her business. Kallie resists, but keeps a close relationship with her family.

Kallie and Ben feel like an age-old boy meets girl kind of story. More aptly, it’s city boy meets country girl. It’s subtle, but Shay conveys a little spark from the moment the two meet. There is some good-natured ribbing between the two from the start. This is a far cry from a typical romance novel. However, their budding relationship gives some relief from the heavy murder mystery story-lines.

The book has a comfortable pace. It is well written with no noticeable errors. It has excitement without being overwhelming, and lulls without being boring. It is a good mix of heart pounding moments and simple everyday life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The human/animal exchanges between Kallie and the animals showed a fascinating dynamic. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kallie and Ben. I’d love to read more by Shay.

Pages: 191 | ASIN: B07XJTNPPC

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Woman: A Collection of Short Stories

Woman: A Collection of Short Stories by [Evans, V.P.]

In WOMAN, V.P. Evans demonstrates that great things come in small packages. In a collection of short stories, Evans is able to open the eyes of her readers to the violent experiences of women all over the world no matter their backgrounds.

In 60 pages, she is able to explore an expansive range of the incredible strength many women have in simply persevering day to day at a disadvantage which they inherited the moment they were born, both physical and systemic. She makes the reader understand that though the women in her stories are victims of such violence, these same victims are also heroes.

The stories, together, explore the unique experiences of women and do so in a way that doesn’t simply lay sensationalized snippets at the readers feet. After finishing the collection, the reader will ponder what it means to give birth, to go through the awkward realizations of a young girl going through puberty, to be raped, to lose yourself as the dependent spouse, to survive by any means. Perhaps as powerful as what she says in her short stories is what is unsaid. The stories are also about the silences which are accepted among women as their burden to bear. They will leave the reader horrified, angry, but most importantly aware of the danger that women face just for being a woman. Hopefully, it will leave the reader with a desire to educate others and dismantle the societies which drive such horrific acts. WOMAN is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about the experiences, and resulting strength, of women throughout the world.

Pages: 69 | ASIN: B07NS3G5V9

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