Category Archives: Book Reviews

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by [DuBois, Catalina]

Sarah is married to a man she hardly knows and is not sure she knows how to love. Matthew, her husband of many years, has not seen Sarah since their union when she was a girl of only eight years. Raised in a convent and reunited with her husband, the knight, Sarah is in complete awe of the horrors of battle and the danger in which he must place himself to protect her. When Sarah steps in to save the kingdom from Matthew’s nemesis, she makes a sacrifice far greater than Matthew could ever have expected.

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by Catalina DuBois is the third book focusing on the characters Sarah and Matthew. In varied settings and with slight name changes, DuBois manages to create stunning visuals with mind-blowing action sequences centering around a love affair for the ages. Sarah and Matthew are standouts in all three books, and Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail features Sarah in her most unique position yet. Sarah is simply captivating in the role of the lover willing to sacrifice everything to save others. DuBois takes readers through Sarah’s thought processes in a way that is personal and moving and does so without the advantage of using first-person point of view. She has successfully created a female lead she is able to mold and shape into a woman of strength and enviable courage across time periods and ever-changing settings.

As with DuBois’s first two Infinity books, I am amazed at the manner in which the author is able to incorporate elements of fantasy into the historical romance genre. Two genres that sound worlds apart are brought together seamlessly in Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail. With the introduction of the cyclops, I have to say I was at first a bit surprised. DuBois has a phenomenal knack for easing the reader into a realm fraught with surreal creatures and making the reader immediately comfortable with the blend of genres.

Imagery is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, DuBois’s forte. DuBois creates extraordinary images to draw readers into the reading in her masterfully crafted prologues. Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail is no exception. As Matthew’s parents observe him from the balcony, the tension in the air is almost tangible. The image of a young Matthew riding away and being watched by parents holding a most devastating and crushing secret is poignant. DuBois manages to structure that scene to first touch the reader’s heart and then, out of nowhere, break it in two.

When reading a mix of fantasy and historical fiction, I appreciate an added level of mystery, and DuBois provides that perfect blend of genres. Readers looking for another angle on the quest for the holy grail and storylines featuring Sir Arthur, Medusa, and Lancelot will find DuBois’s writing to be a fresh look at these classic tales.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B0791BBNZ3

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Be Unstoppable: No Excuses

Life would not be as vibrant without the curve balls it likes to throw at us. You know you are definitely going to face challenges but there is no way of knowing the challenges you are going to face or even when those challenges will show up. The only thing to do is to charge forward. To be ready for whatever comes. To know that falling is inevitable but will be meaningless if you do not get up and keep going. To be unstoppable without using the said challenges as excuses to slack off.

The author of this book has lived a very eventful life. A life colored with challenges and triumphs in almost equal measure. The story of his life is told in his first book Unstoppable: Challenge Accepted. He has followed it up with the gem Be Unstoppable: No Excuses. The second book talks about success and hurdles on the path. He talks about time, courage, sacrifice, forgiveness, and hope. All factors that could make the difference between one who tries, fails then remains a failure and one who tries, fails then tries again.

Some of the most valuable tidbits is the part about being decisive and acting quickly. This balances quite well with the risk bit. The author also talks about confidence and mental strength. All these are aspects of the journey to success. A change in the perception in these factors could make all the difference. I found this book to be both enlightening and uplifting.

This book gives advice in a way that leaves the reader feeling energized to work harder as opposed to drained of all hope. The writing is clear and affirmative. It is well thought out and sober. The author has done a good job of outlining his points in a sensible manner. A way that seems chronological. It is engaging and captures your attention right from the beginning and delivers a profound yet sensible message without entangling you in a web of complicated thoughts.

I think this is a great book to read for people who are in business. They will learn how to stay ahead of the curve by enhancing the most valuable asset they have: themselves. For people looking to go into entrepreneurship. They will learn to be strong and unstoppable ahead of time instead of just gaining strength once they have hit the tides. It is a great book for people starting out in their careers. Tariku Bogale is a great believer in education and his passion shines through this book.

Pages: 104 | ASIN: B078866Y19

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The Agile Brand: Creating Authentic Relationships Between Companies and Consumers

The Agile Brand: Creating Authentic Relationships Between Companies and Consumers by [Kihlström, Greg]

This book is for anyone who aspires to establish a distinct presence with long-term product consumers. The Agile Brand: Brand Creating Authentic Relationships Between Companies and Consumers gives you a deeper understanding of the consumer, sales, and marketing sector. Divided into three parts, the author starts the book by highlighting the basics of brands. Simple questions like what branding is, why we do branding and what makes a brand successful are lucidly answered to the satisfaction of any new comer to the field.

One of the many things I learned from this book includes the need to have your audience understand how your brand is pronounced. People tend to obliviously mispronounce some names. The author made a table with some brands like IKEA, Adidas Hermes, and Porsche. He noted how a majority mispronounce the names and listed the correct pronunciation. He emphasized that having consumers mispronounce your brand may have them misunderstand the attributes of your company.

Your brand is more than your logo, Greg Kihlstrom says. He goes on to advise those who are new to branding. The author mentions the use of social media and digital advertisement tools and how important it is for the brand to build a solid bond with the target audience. On making a brand successful, the writer lists three easy methods to determine the success of a brand. Substance, focus, and relevance are the basic methods of evaluating how good or bad a brand is.

The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom. If you want to build a brand that will leave an impact and paint a permanent picture in the consumer’s mind, then you need this book. The Agile Brand provides great learning material for marketing students, with notes written by the author coming in handy at some point in their career.

While reading through this book I felt as if I was in a classroom with a competent teacher you are begging to glean wisdom from. The book is truly educational. Brand-pushers will definitely find the text in this publication useful and will apply the lessons learned in their daily businesses. What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was concise. Many books of in this field will happily fill you with fluff details, but Greg Kihlstrom keeps his focus and gets to the point.

One thing that stood out from this book is the author’s need to mention real companies when expounding. Companies like Dominos, Starbucks, and Lowes Foods are given as examples when talking about changing the messaging while still maintaining success rates. Greg Kihlstrom clearly explains why the said brands changed their slogans at some point, and how it worked for them. Here the author enables the reader to understand that there is no loss in changing slogans, as long as your packaging as a brand is up to standard.

Be sure to grab a copy of this book, as there is so much you will learn. The book is especially recommended to newbies in the branding and marketing industry, as it will help you grasp the basic concepts of advertisement in the modern world.

Pages: 186 | ASIN: B07CV4M8WH

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Breaking Worlds

Breaking Worlds (Lisen of Solsta Book 5) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]

The action never stops in Breaking Worlds by D. Hart St. Martin. This installation in the Lisen of Solsta saga is easy to dive into, even if you haven’t read the previous volumes. The gut wrenching emotion that pours out of this novel is gripping and drives the reader forward: looking for the resolution of such a familial rift. The energy is compelling as the story drives forward. We learn about the divide between Lisen and Korin. We witness as their daughter Rinli undergoes what could be described as an evolution and her determination to change the world they live in shakes both mother and father to the core. This book has clearly been crafted with care and is sure to not disappoint new and returning readers.

St. Martin is a veteran at her craft. The raw emotions that both Korin and Lisen feel at the death of their daughter are so palpable the reader can’t help but feel those emotions running through their own veins as they read. It can be difficult to describe such grief, let alone show how it can consume an individual, but St. Martin does it with grace. As Korin wrestles with emotion that he has never felt before he wonders how others can live after feeling it. It is such a powerful statement that it will resonate with anyone who has ever felt pain at the loss of a loved one. Such descriptive power carries on throughout the book and enhances the story.

It can be hard to come into a series without the backstory of previous volumes. While there may be some slight confusion for new readers, St. Martin explains things in such a way that it’s not overwhelming and readers do not become lost. There is a guide at the back of the book that lays out the main characters and some demographic information on them that can be helpful. It also assists readers that St. Martin writes as if readers have either forgotten or have limited knowledge of previous installments. This is helpful for new readers and doesn’t detract from the amazing story she is trying to tell. This can be a delicate balance to keep, but St. Martin knows exactly what she’s doing and demonstrates her ability to craft an excellent tale.

Any reader who wants to throw themselves into the grip of an epic fantasy-adventure book needs to look no further than Breaking Worlds by D. Hart St. Martin. While this particular book is the fifth in a series, the carefully crafted world and elaborate world building is more than enough to grab the attention of new and returning readers. The raw human emotion that laces this book as our protagonists manage their grief, their pain and the familial rift that threatens to consume the world as they know it enhances the base storyline. Readers won’t be able to get enough as they consume the delicious story laid out before them.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B0795DRCNJ

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Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth by [Perkins, Suzetta]

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth, written by Suzetta Perkins is a book which draws the reader into an entangled mess of classified government secrets and the trials and tribulations of military relationships. Military wife Persenia is married to Brigadier General Reggie, who’s been committing adultery for years, and she’s just about had enough of it. Fueled by a meeting with the woman she suspects to be his lover, she vows to divorce him and drag his name through the mud. But, this is all before he is called away on urgent business in the Middle East, where ISIS are increasing their presence.

Perkins narrates the story from a number of different viewpoints – mainly Persenia’s, but also from Reggie’s and Rasheed – a terrorist. The relationships are complicated and fiery, full of arguments and strife. Without the different narrators, it would be hard to keep up – but the variety allows a range of different perspectives. It doesn’t stop readers being on Persenia’s side though and feeling sorry for the women of the story, who are regularly messed around on by their husbands.

The book is an emotional one, powered by lots of strong feelings – thoughts of jealousy, revenge, and anger. But through this, we can see there had once been a lot of love in the ruined relationships, and can’t help but feel sad at the loss. Throughout, it’s easy to find yourself getting involved, which is a testament to how well the book is written. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel with a suggestion of real love forming, amidst a story full of unhealthy relationships and immoral behavior.

Alongside the emotional turmoil is the contrasting stoic, male-dominated world of the military. Persenia is known for her upstanding reputation as a wife and party planner and has been Reggie’s rock, supporting him whilst he has built his career. This draws a comparison to what occurs behind different types of closed doors – such as people’s homes and in classified military offices. To the people looking in, Persenia and Reggie’s relationship is perfect and strong, and the government officers are handling the issues in the Middle East. From the outside, it all seems to be in hand. The issues that face military wives are highlighted – the extensive adultery, emotional and physical abuse from dominant men who are used to getting their own way. Persenia’s character also draws on the isolation that a military wife might feel, as she is moved from place to place as her husband is posted all over the country and overseas for months at a time.

Perkins’ book is a story of intrigue – you really want to find out if the characters will reconcile and how they will react when all is revealed. It runs alongside a mysterious terrorist plot that adds pressure to the boiling relationships and forces the plot lines to meet and come to blows.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B073MC9ZN7

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Sombristic

Sombristic by [Sebastian, S.A.]

Sombristic, written by S.A. Sebastian follows a close group of culturally diverse friends who are all at different points in their lives and relationships – some are married and some are just trying to figure things out. But, they are joined by the bonds of friendship that keep them grounded in their search for the right person. The title, a word seemingly coined by the author, means to be optimistic in the face of romantic sadness. This being said at the beginning gives the text a positive opening tone – it makes you think that the characters are going to try and be optimistic even when the going gets tough, and hopefully things will work out for all of them.

There’s also a brief but helpful character list at the beginning of the text as the story dives into the deep end in an active scene between a father, son, and friends – so it helps to know who’s who. The list was particularly useful as there is little introductory context, which was initially a little difficult, but the characters come into focus as you continue reading.

This book is written in the form of a play, or a conversation-based work, the text is mostly dialogue and is written in a relaxed style, reflective of each character’s accent with each one being subtly different. The ‘acts’ are usually short, and they jump between different situations and have time lapses throughout, so it can be hard to keep up with all of the different goings on. However, the easy to read style helps the reader stay immersed when they come back around to a previously mentioned character.

The conversations between the characters, when split into male and female groups are very typical of the gender ideals. The men discuss sports and their level of sexual activity and the women discuss clothes and relationship gossip. Although this might be reflective of the groups general stereotypes, I though it made them one dimensional. I wanted to see the characters interested in things other than the overall theme of the book.

I thought that the story was a little hard to follow, as it moved from scene to scene so quickly, despite the relaxed and attractive writing style that kept me engaged with interesting writing. The book incorporates long descriptive passages that are interesting and well written, suggesting that the script would perhaps be more engaging if rewritten as a novel rather than a play.

What the text does do very well is highlight the varied types of relationships and dating that exist in modern society, and explores how hard these can be to navigate. There is also some pretty funny references in this book that made me laugh!

ASIN: B07DW4J71W

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The Witch Trials: The Becoming

The Witch Trials: The Becoming by [Generis, Intrigue]

The Witch Trials: The Becoming, by Intrigue Sui Generis, is a short work of historical dramatic fiction. The book is centered around the life and times of Sylvie, a middle-class woman living in southern France during the late 17th century. The story is predominantly about her life, her personal difficulties, and the broader milieu of the time period. Much of the story also concerns her husband Leon and his relationship to the broader Catholic Church, though the nature of this relationship is not well described, or at the least it is unclear how he is so involved with the church despite his main profession. The book also includes content about the broader scope of the time period.

The historical content of this book reads as semi-fictions with the author’s experiences, beliefs, worldview, and sense of morality bleeding into the pages of this book. The 1600’s in France were themselves bloody times, but the author largely washes away that bloody history, due in part to a lack of detail in the story. The story also includes much more active female roles, especially for those of a middle-class status during that time period. While it is heart-warming to think of a female character, seeking to rise above her station in a steeply patriarchal society infused with, what we would consider, harsh and vile religious fundamentalism, much of it is romanticized so that you can follow Sylvie’s story through this dark time without feeling too down about it.

Sylvie’s entire history prior to her marriage to Leon is contained within a single page, which seemed too short for me as I found her to be an intriguing character and I wanted to learn more about her. I enjoyed that this book was a short and concise novella, but at the expense of detail. Sylvie comes from a Protestant upbringing, but I felt it was unclear what kind of Protestant. The brevity of the story helps focus this book into a character driven novella, but leaves you wanting more. Overall, the historical additions of the book are strong and seemingly well-researched (as evidenced by the bibliography at the end of the text), but I would have loved to have this further fleshed out to lengthen the book, and these details would have clarified the setting and character motivations for me.

The Witch Trials: The Becoming is intended for a young adult audience with a decent attempt at historical accuracy. There is sexual content, but it is only slightly more bawdy than a television show from the 1950’s. There are also depictions of human suffering, the outcome of torture, and threats of imminent pain and death, but these are also very sterile. Overall, this book is short and easily provides a few short hours of entertainment.

Pages: 56 | ASIN: B07D68YSQZ

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The Blue Wings of the Dragonfly: Finding Magic in Every Day, Everyone, and Everything

The Blue Wings of the Dragonfly: Finding Magic in Every Day, Everyone, and Everything by [Roggeman, C. Lee]

Cynthia Roggeman’s personal memoir details the events throughout her life. She goes into great detail about her relationships, family and health complications. She does this while offering snippets of advice and wisdom that she has learned along the way. The book is often upsetting and full of events – on a number of occasions it seems as everything is happening at once for our author. She shares her life’s journey with the intention of learning from the process of writing and to divulge the positive aspects that result from a lifetime of hardship.

The sections about her family, mainly her father and her Italian grandmother, Nonni, are bittersweet and filled with memories that she describes in the manner of a child – because at the time she did not understand what was going on. Her childhood was filled with both happy and sad memories and she does not seem to resent any of the negative aspects at all. In her family circle, she experiences alcoholism and mental illness – which she regards as a choice.

Throughout her life, she has various serious health issues and is in the hospital a number of times. She suffers quite badly and even has to learn to self-medicate – something which carries a great responsibility, even if it is towards yourself. However, she does not let these problems set her back and each time she recovers and returns to work and normal life – this is not a woman who gives up easily.

The book is separated into short chapters, each beginning with a date. This makes it easier to place the events in the author’s life as they are not in chronological order. At times it can be difficult to remember at what age things occurred for her but she has ordered it according to her own time frame and reference of events – how she feels events in her past relate to each other. This is reflective of a realistic memory because often things do not go through our minds in order and jump around randomly.

She has written the book for it to be a therapeutic process, it seems to be a place for her grief, hope, and wisdom. She has learned to be imaginative and to really remember her past self. She has also learned to be grateful for the things she has, as well as the things she had. She writes that she has had to mourn her losses and accept them, as well as remember the fond memories.

Cynthia’s novel is a work of remembrance, which will make any reader reflect on their own lives and take heed of her writing. The deeply personal writing is both engaging and emotional, however sometimes it can be hard to keep track of the order things that happened. She urges us to be grateful, flexible and open to new things and changes and to be powerful – just like the blue dragonfly.

Pages: 100 | ASIN: B07DNDWFKN

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Revelations: The Colburn Curse

Natalie leads a life like no other woman. The man in her life is not her husband and her son is not her own. As a woman in the pre-Civil War days, she does as she is told, and her life is simply not her own. Her son, Matt, who she lovingly protects from the hatred and violence of his brother, the man in her life, is being raised with no idea of what true love is. As Natalie continues to serve Pete and put up with his endless brutality, she simultaneously succeeds in teaching Matt how to recognize his brother’s faults and steers him toward the life he deserves.

Catalina DuBois’s Revelations: The Colburn Curse contains rich tidbits of various genres, and they all seem to blend flawlessly into one breathtaking piece. With mystery being the underlying and ever-present element, DuBois’s book is laced with romance, historical fiction, and tantalizing snippets of fantasy.

As I read, I felt as if I were on an emotional roller coaster of the most bizarre kind. I desperately hated Pete from the moment he entered the picture. There was not a signal redeeming quality present in him, and I felt no qualms about despising the sight of his name. Then DuBois throws a monkey wrench into the equation– a complete game-changer. I was amazed at how swiftly the author was able to make me change my mind. Then, as quickly as she brought me to a new line of thinking, she reintroduces the Pete of old. DuBois is a master of the plot twist. I was two breaths away from an audible gasp when she had Natalie suddenly reveal her own revelation about Pete’s true identity. Who doesn’t yearn for a book that gives them that feeling?

I will admit that I had a difficult time in the early chapters seeing how the vast array of characters would fit together by the book’s end. DuBois, however, is more than adept at pulling together characters from settings that are seemingly unrelated. I might add, when she does, it is amazing.

The storyline centering about Ambassador Florian Lafayette and his sister, Embrasia, is the most engaging in the book. The two are, without a doubt, bent on living on the edge. Their antics would seem to lead them down a path of destruction, but a few chance meetings change the siblings and their wild ways like no amount of preaching could. I find their storyline to be filled with the most rapidly moving action.

Having read several other books by the author, I can say this one is, by far, my favorite. When you can finish a book and feel immediately like rereading it, you know you have found a keeper. DuBois is the queen of prologues. I never ceased to be amazed at her ability to pull me in within the first paragraphs. There is no one else out there penning romances with touches of fantasy based on historical fiction like Catalina DuBois.

Pages: 285 | ASIN: 1973233002

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Laburnum Lanes

Laburnum Lanes by [Shantha]

Laburnum Lanes is a small collection of beautiful poems by Shantha. The poems mainly contain nature themes, such as birds and marigolds, with birds as illustrations. Some of the poems have continuances. For instance, a poem may continue into another poem, telling a short little story within those small series of poems, while all of them tie together pleasantly. The book is serene with its descriptions of nature and the beauty of it. The poem book is also incredibly cultural. It makes references to Indian culture and the author provides footnotes to define the specific aspects.

I enjoyed this collection of poems. While it is a short read, it is a beautiful one. Many of the lines of many of the poems resonated with me or touched me in a profoundly deep way. A lot of the lines paint detailed exquisite visuals. For example, “Strawberry Filled Path” elicits visions of strawberries on the ground as well as gives the visual of someone holding strawberries. You can even get the smell and the feel of sunshine from it. Shantha’s words jump from the page and really make you feel like you are in the scene they paint. Similarly, “A Large Palm” does the same as “Strawberry Filled Path.” The reader sees the flashes of imagery. Many of Shantha’s words are paintings that have come to life, with being able to see, smell, and even feel the some of the descriptions. It takes talent to be able to construct strong sensory responses. Even the title of the poem book evokes imagery of the trees.

Poems like “Togetherness” also have great lines in them, like “marigolds come from heavens/They are not born of the womb.” It has such powerful phrasing. Then there is something like “Meditation” that resonates with me because it illustrates parts of life so well. Many of these poems are like this poem in that way, where it is relatable because it reflects life.

I have so many poems bookmarked because they either resonated with me in some deep, profound way, they were relatable, I enjoyed the imagery, or I loved the phrasing. I am a huge fan of poetry because it can be done so well and conjure up different feelings and can even be an outlet for feelings. I think Shantha was able to do this magnificently with their poems, tap into universal feelings while also giving readers a taste of Indian culture. It definitely made me want to look into Indian culture more and be more educated about it.

I think good poetry makes you feel something, but great poetry leaves this feeling of change within you. It gives you new knowledge, new perspectives, and the hunger for more of it all. That is what Shantha’s poetry did with me. It was interesting and beautiful. I highly recommend this book of poems to anyone who is a fan of poetry or even just pretty words and phrases.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B07DLZPCXL

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