Category Archives: Book Reviews

Resistance, Revolution and Other Love Stories

Resistance, Revolution and Other Love Stories by [K.]

Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories by K is a compilation of twelve romantic short stories ranging from fiction to futuristic sci-fi.

This extraordinary collection of stories takes us into the worlds of character, each with a completely different perspective on what love is and how to demonstrate it. These characters offer glimpses of what love means to different cultures around the world, written in a way that allows you to really meditate about life on a greater scale, as well as ponder on the importance of stolen glances, sacred touches and the smallest of details.

Each plot is a masterpiece in its own, with such compelling storylines that you are forced to follow them until the end, and to uncover the secret message hidden within. Some feature happy endings, others vague cliffhangers that will leave you yearning for more. Each story is written in a different setting, from London to Yugoslavia to Iraq, there is a never ending range of possibilities that will never leave you unsatisfied.

One of my favorite stories was “Head Down”. It’s about a married man who goes off on a business trip to take a couple of seminars. He meets Shannon, who completely transforms his view on what love should feel like. He struggles between succumbing to this new feeling of love and familiarity of staying true to his sense of duty for his current family. In the end both characters make a choice that will most likely impact the rest of their lives, and the reader is left guessing what will happen next. This story, as do the others, depict the complexities of love; which isn’t black and white as many people would have us believe. It navigates the intricate human connections which have the power to limit or free a person, depending on the nature and dynamic of the relationship.

Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories contains a wonderful compilation of stories with beautifully written worlds, relatable and real characters, and descriptive narration.

Pages: 183 | ASIN: B08NV1BT2K

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Monsters & Mist

Monsters & Mist by [Taylor Fenner]

Monsters & Mist by Taylor Fenner is a thrilling fantasy novel that goes to great lengths to develop a fully realized world with attention paid to even the tiniest details. Intriguing characters are painstakingly developed to ensure we, as readers, understand their motivations, so when they are thrust headlong into precarious situations we are certain to be biting our nails.

This was an engrossing action adventure novel with characters that are well fleshed out and a story that is engaging and rich with creative details and imaginative lore.

Readers are provided with a bit of Esternwhorl history at the beginning of every chapter. This serves to provide even more backstory and world building for readers who like to be consumed by their epic fantasy novels. This reminds me of books found throughout the Elder Scrolls video game where a whole other world feels like it is being built behind the scenes as you progress through the story. I felt like this Esternwhorl history could easily become its own companion novella with how much details is provided in this suspenseful fantasy novel.

Is this a character driven story or a plot driven story? I think this story transcends either category because I feel like the momentum of the story is pushed forward, at different points, by different aspects making for a very engaging read as we move from one tense situation to another, and one from one intriguing character to another. Once we get past the world building, the 400+ pages of this book fly by in a whirlwind of emotionally charged story telling.

Monsters & Mist is an engrossing story that I highly recommend to anyone looking to lose themselves in a fantasy world that is richly imaginative. From an author who has clearly honed her craft through her young adult paranormal fantasy Eternals Trilogy, Taylor Fenner provides readers with a vibrant fantasy story.

Pages: 418 | ASIN: B08VWFN9S5

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The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories

The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by [David Joseph]


The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by David Joseph is a collection of fourteen short fiction stories that are set in cities in Spain and Portugal. The stories feature a variety of people, old and young, tourists, natives, and immigrants and range from 6-20 pages in length. Although the stories are about everyday life, special or tragic moments the characters experience are the true focus of the narrative. Several themes are used in multiple stories including death and loss, older characters watching the lives of young people and remembering when they were that age themselves, and being alone but not felling lonely.

This book had an interesting variety of stories that I enjoyed reading. The short stories were quick to get through, which made the book a fast read overall. I liked that I could read several stories in one sitting. Although some of the stories had similar themes, they did not seem repetitive because the characters were so varied. While I enjoyed the stories I felt that some of them were character driven stories, focusing on the characters routines, interactions and relationships, where I wanted to see a bit more focus on plot development.

Some of the stories were told in the first person point of view, while others were in third person, and several stories featured unnamed characters, often the narrator. I enjoyed reading the details of the characters lives and the descriptions of Spanish and Portuguese cities, landmarks, and coastlines; which to me is an exotic culture. I liked that the first story and last story both had old men in boats, which created a kind of symmetry to the book as a whole, however I didn’t prefer the narrative jump back and forth between old men rowing boats and Picasso’s painting Guernica. This made it feel a bit disjointed and disrupted the overall smooth flow of the story. Many of the stories did not end happily or were focused on past tragedies such as death, suicide, and abortion. But I felt that this was true to life, where happy endings are not always normal, and this kept the stories grounded rather than fanciful.

The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories is a thought-provoking collection of emotionally resonant stories that explore life in various seemingly prosaic moments that cumulatively have a profound impact on the reader.

Pages: 142 | ASIN:  B08T1Q4TPM

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Ten Keys to Effective Leadership

Ten Keys to Effective Leadership: A Guidebook for Women of Faith by [Marilyn Donnellan, David Condon, Wayne Elsey, Andy Gilliam, Linda Lysakowski, Margaux Pagán, Donna Poppendieck, Michael Sand, Joel Zimmerman]

Ten Keys to Effective Leadership: A Guidebook for Women of Faith will help readers understand the fundamentals and essentials to effective leadership. Marilyn L. Donnellan MS expounds qualities of a great leader in a straightforward but illuminating manner. To be in charge of a group of people; whether big or small, means that they trust you and believe in your views. To be a leader means that you have to take every challenge as it comes and be strong for your people, something not many people are built to do. Marilyn L. Donnellan MS’s notes on effective leadership will help you understand that being the head of anything requires skills, dedication, patience, a forgiving heart and kindness among other virtues.

Marilyn L. Donnellan MS explains why female leadership is important in society. The author compares women in power in the 60s to women in power today. I enjoyed reading her thoughts on feminism as it gives one an understanding of why female empowerment has been a crucial process throughout the years. Reading the author’s opinion on women in leadership and why they deserve more spaces was eye opening.

This book is most beneficial to women of faith that are looking for way to increase their leadership skills and encourages more women to get into power and challenge men that have been raised in misogynistic settings. What I liked most was that the book goes beyond leadership and educates readers on how to become better people, live righteously, and improve your relationship with God to become a better Christian. Marilyn L. Donnellan MS goes on to explains how these traits go hand in hand and improves your leadership abilities.

The book explores the different myths of female leadership that have been passed on through the years and challenges her readers to seek the truth by providing facts. Though she bases her teachings on religion and the bible, the author also considers non-religious folks and readers from different backgrounds. She uses a modest and friendly language which encourages one to keep reading.

The title of the book had me assume we would only learn about leadership, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the book teaches readers so much more. Leadership and having faith are the main discussions but the author also teaches the reader on how to live with people, correcting mistakes and being a wholesome person.

Ten Keys to Effective Leadership: A Guidebook for Women of Faith is an enlightening and inspirational book that will encourage women, and men, to lead and provide them with the tools be successful when they do.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B07SQ3ZPBF

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American Fries: A Queer Farce

American Fries: A Queer Farce by [Tom Beattie]

American Fries: A Queer Farce is Tom Beattie’s fun play where he explores how Molière’s playwright style could have been if it had included some queerness in it. Marriage equality and same-sex love are the main aspects dealt with in his play, all done in a fun and hilarious way that will leave its readers constantly smiling and giggling at every turn of the page.

The book includes two different plays. The first one, American Fries, based in seventeenth-century Paris, follows the friends Bayonet and Heavyset as they conspire to find a way to pair and marry each other’s kids. However, the girls Crepsuzette and Anisette, and the boys Pirouette and Leatherette, may have some different plans of their own. Although it is a period play, it is told in a modern way with modern humor, making it very enjoyable to read. The second play included in the book, Once Married, goes back to modern day to follow the lives of Tom and David, a gay couple from the United States in their early sixties, with the deep wish of having the freedom to marry each other without fear.

The plays included in the book were fun and easy to read. Even though the book deals with serious themes such as same-sex marriage, the author expresses his story and his feelings in an entertaining and natural way. I was constantly smiling throughout the different plays, highly appreciating Tom Beattie’s humor. Even the names of the characters made me laugh every time that they appeared on the page, they had such an unique and creative touch to them. The stories told were not only funny but also endearing, being able to portray by the end the significance of companionship and love regardless of gender, a very powerful message in this day and age.

I found the first play, American Fries, to be unique and would love to see a longer one in the future with the same style of writing and humoristic attitude. The deep feelings of love are portrayed in a simple, yet powerful manner, allowing the reader to feel connected to the characters and understanding the depth of their emotions. I only wish that the plays had been longer, there is still some potential that can be explored further with the characters that were introduced throughout the story.

American Fries: A Queer Farce is a fast paced and easy read with entertaining humor and an overall imaginative and creative style. Author Tom Beattie gives readers such an endearing and enjoyable reading experience.

Pages: 143 | ASIN:

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Grotto of Chaos: The Exploits of Clarence Griffin Book 1

Grotto of Chaos: The Exploits of Clarence Griffin Book 1 by [Christopher Knox, Jason Moser, Danny Decillis, Hazel Walshaw]

A camping trip sounded like such a wonderful idea–friends, family, and a bit of an adventure. Clarence Griffin and his friends are a unique group with talents and knowledge that, on an ordinary day, just make them interesting and fun. Today, however, their skills may just save their lives. When the group experiences what they all believe to be an earthquake, their plans to enjoy the trip are not thwarted–they soldier on. It’s when the ground opens up and they disappear into a world like none of them could ever have dreamed that they begin to believe this will be much more than their normal adventure.

Grotto of Chaos, by Christopher Knox, is a young adult thriller and the first in a series centered around Clarence Griffin. From cover to cover, the group of friends are met head-on with otherworldly challenges and use their wits and their talents to fight their way out of one predicament after another. The circle of friends is met head on by everything from a rat beast to a dinosaur, but their resourcefulness far outweighs anything that comes their way. Clarence and his crew are a fantastic bunch of young adult heroes.

As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for engaging books that are both readable, not overwhelming in length and of high-interest to my more avid readers. Knox more than meets all of these expectations with Grotto of Chaos. Clarence and his friends are all relatable, offer bits of humor that young readers will appreciate, and give all of us a cast of everyday superheroes that offer a new and refreshing take on the young adult genre.

One of the most appealing aspects of Knox’s work is the constant dialogue between the main characters. Young readers tend to gravitate toward books with characters who sound like them. The banter between Clarence and his sister, Penelope, makes for an entertaining read for children at this age. In addition, Knox does a fabulous job of representing a diverse friend group with different interests and talents, and each character is given his/her moment to shine.

I highly recommend Knox’s writing to anyone looking to introduce young readers to a new series of adventure stories. The main characters in Grotto of Chaos will appeal to all readers, and the constant action will keep readers coming back for more from Clarence and his pals.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B08WVX48FY

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White Knuckle Dance

White Knuckle Dance by [Andrew Cockburn]

White Knuckle Dance by Andrew Cockburn is a romantic novel filled with suspense, drama, and secrets. Dan sees himself as a regular guy working a regular day job, with no importance of any kind. He and Mary meet at a work function where they hit it off and his once normal, uninteresting life is turned upside down. While the two have a relationship, Dan discovers more things about himself that he didn’t know about before. He suspects there is more to Mary than what she allows other people to see and the more secrets he learns about her, and her about him, emotions are explored and vulnerability exhibited. Games begin and stakes are raised even higher and this leads to the white-knuckle dance around discovery, risks, and power in which we are not certain who will end up as the winner in this deadly game.

Andrew Cockburn incorporates local dialect within the book that gives the reader a connection with the native region in which the story is set. Direct speech has been richly used in the book to personalize the connection between the reader and the characters. The vivid description of events helps create imagery that is fully realized and helps fuel the reader’s imagination.

This is an emotionally charged story that focuses on the main characters riveting relationship, and this is the true gem of this story. I love how the chemistry between Dan and Mary develops and evolves over time. Guilt consumes Dan and this is what pushes him to seek therapy years later since he lost his mother. Introducing Mary in the book plays a major role in helping Dan finally open up and let go of some of the guilt he has been feeling for a long time. Their relationship serves to assure Dan that he is not the cause of his previous failed relationship. This is an impassioned story, that is beautifully written, and places compelling characters in various emotionally precarious situations.

White Knuckle Dance expertly balances mystery, chemistry, and suspense in a way that in an eloquent and fascinating way. This is a romantic suspense novel that surprised me on many levels, and stayed with me long after I put the book down.

Pages: 201 | ASIN: B08XY6VC2D

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Song of Blue

Song of Blue by [J. A. Ebonlight]

Song Of Blue follows a child soldier trying to survive a brutal far future reality where an ageless king rules thousands of planets. Blu joins the king’s army in an attempt to escape his harsh life and is sent to quell a rebellion off world, where he learns that he has just traded in one gang life for another. Blu is forced to pick a side in a world with no easy choices.

Author J.A. Ebonlight’s uniquely gritty writing style captivated me from the start of this thrilling science fiction novel. This is a fascinating literary hybrid with a storyline I would normally find in contemporary urban fantasy, but set in the far future where humans inhabit thousands of worlds. I detected tones throughout this entertaining story that reminded me of science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, or another great sicfi writer John Scalzi, with unique views on humanity and deep commentary or society in a compelling and introspective story.

Blu is an intriguing and contemplative character, a bit of a trope, but grounded and endearing enough for me to be fully invested in his character throughout the story. Song of Blue is an ambitious story, edging into the epic science fiction genre with its particular world building, but remaining accessible with its simple but engaging language and dialogue. Author J.A. Ebonlight does a fantastic job of ensuring his characters feel as real as possible, which is important in a far future science fiction story involving aliens, and I appreciated the how easy flowing the dialogue was.

Song of Blue is a riveting space opera that will satisfy any science fiction fan looking for a space marine story that reaches far enough out of the genre to feel new. J.A. Ebonlight provides readers with a unique perspective in a story that is dark, imaginative and thought-provoking.

Pages: 209 | ASIN: B08W1ZHB82

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