Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Lodgers

The Lodgers by [Annette Creswell]

The Lodgers by Annette Creswell is a historical fiction story set in the early 1950’s. Therese O’Brien, a young girl from Dublin Ireland, finds herself pregnant and unwed and she is sent to Brighton England to hide her shame. While her mother tells everyone the story that Therese has gone to London to work in a fancy hotel, in fact she is supposed to stay at a convent until the baby’s birth and then give up her child and return home as though nothing had happened. But Therese wants to make up her own mind about what to do and she takes a room in Mabel Dawson’s lodging house rather than following through on her mother’s plan. Hiding the truth from her family, she struggles to figure out what decision she can live with. Will any of the other lodgers be able to help her determine the right choice?

The residents of the lodging house were an interesting cast of characters, which included Irene, a recovering alcoholic, Irene’s sister Judy, who had not spoken since she suffered a traumatic event and was committed to a mental asylum, Arthur, an old retired army major, Mabel, the landlady who was a former vaudevillian, and a parrot who revealed the true identity of a killer. I liked learning about the various characters’ pasts and the insights that were given in to their thoughts and feelings.

One of my favorite parts of the story was the way that Irene befriended Therese and helped her, and I enjoyed seeing the bond developing between the two women. I also liked seeing what happened to the lodgers after they left the boarding house one by one and moved on with their lives. The author did not leave any unanswered questions at the end of the book, and I enjoyed reading how things turned out for Therese and Irene, who had both suffered through strife in their past.

While I heartily enjoyed this thought-provoking novel, I thought that there were areas with no transitions between scenes, which made these sections of the story feel like there were pieces missing. In contrast, there were areas where there was a repetition of information, with details that had already been revealed through internal dialogue and then repeated again in conversations with other characters. I think the flow of the story would have benefited from the events being retold in a more linear timeline.

The Lodgers is an emotionally resonant novel that follows some intriguing characters. This is a story that will appeal to fans of historical fiction that enjoy a character driven story with a satisfying ending.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B092MVKKRT

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Five Mile Charlie: A Special Pony for Carly

Five Mile Charlie: A Special Pony for Carly by [Kimberly Adams]

This is a very creative and fun story following a little girl named Carly who has everything she ever wanted except a pony. Luckily Queen bee Nora is near by and sets out to fulfill Carly’s wish by finding her a pony. But the white fluffy animal she finds for Nora is not a pony, it is a llama named Charlie.

I really loved how Charlie and Carly become fast friends. It really shows kids how to be accepting of others and the gifts they are given. Carly is also a fantastic character that shows how to work hard and be thankful for the things in your life. She could have easily been upset that her wish for a pony was not fulfilled but instead she accepted Charlie into her life with zeal.

Every page of this delightful book has charming art with a soft color palette that is very appealing. Every animal is cute and I had a hard time turning the page because my child did not want to stop looking at the cute critters that litter the pages. She was especially fond of the Yorkie.

Five Mile Charlie: A Special Pony for Carly is a fun children’s book that will take young readers on a cute farm adventure where they will meet interesting characters and learn valuable lessons in fun ways.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B09G6S7V8X

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BIRDS AND HUMANS: WHO ARE WE?

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Birds and Humans: Who are we? The Miracles of Earth by David Campbell Callender is actually written in the memory and honor of the gentle Irish Naturalist by his granddaughter Ruth Finnigan. She has used the affectionate account and the same photographs as he might’ve used.  Since Ruth is an anthropologist and thus has no expert knowledge of birds, the book deliberately strays away from the use of specialist terminologies and Latin names. The book is a refreshingly different take on the usual encyclopedias about birds; rather, it talks about birds with a child-like fascination.

The book talks about the parallels and contrasts between the world of humans and birds. It draws out the idea that even though we’ve had very different ancestries, with birds being the last living species of dinosaurs and humans sharing ancestry with the apes, there is more in common between the two than one would expect.

While I enjoyed the book and found the information in it to be enlightening, I thought the book could have benefited from formatting, but otherwise the information readers will find within will more than satisfy your curiosity on the subject.

Birds and Humans: Who are we? provides a plethora of facts about birds and does it with an air of enchantment on the subject that I find rare in nonfiction books. The author’s deep connection with the birds is clear and awe-inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone curious about birds and to readers who are looking for a light but informative book.

Pages: 271

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The Communications Consultant’s Foundation

The Communications Consultant’s Foundation: Leveraging Public Relations Expertise for Personal and Client Success is divided into 3 parts titled ‘Foundation’, The Arena’, and ‘Communications Consulting’. Each of these sections in the book deal with subjects that are related to communications and public relations in a professional setting. I love that the author divided the various topics into sections, as it helps with the organization of the book and better comprehension for the reader. The Communications Consultant’s Foundation is an informative and useful book that will help you with your communication skills with others in your profession and also help you when having casual talks with those that you interact with personally.

There are more than a dozen topics that the author focused on in his book. The main topics are communications and public relations. The author writes in depth and shares experiences from his career when expounding on a topic. Whether a student, entrepreneur, or professional, author Roger Darnell ensures that you will understand his message. His style of explaining is clear and simple. He talks of complex subjects using simple words that are easily understood by the average reader. His use of layman language when explaining intricate terms is one of my favorite features in his writing.

The book examines and explains a variety of prevailing topics like managing finances, running a business, effective communication, entrepreneurship, client-proprietor relationships, leadership, customer care, and branding among other things. After just a few pages into each chapter I felt like I had a good understanding of the topic. The author is erudite  in all areas of communication. His tone when talking about serious issues is encouraging and also motivating.

The Communications Consultant’s Foundation is an informative and practical guide for anyone aiming to join the fields of public relations and communications. The author has useful bits and nuggets of wisdom that will help you navigate the corporate world. With the amount of in-depth information shared in this book I feel like this book can help you build your career from scratch, help you to ascend to higher positions, and help you achieve your career goals. The Communications Consultant’s Foundation shares advice that is easily actionable and shares information that will put readers on equal footing with professionals in the industry.

Pages: 179 | ASIN: B0997RGJSN

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The Women’s Meeting

The Women’s Meeting by [J. E. London]

The Women’s Meeting by J.E. London combines crime thriller, mystery, and psychological fiction to portray the cutthroat world of insatiable men, the shocking and uncomfortable aspects of humanity, and the irrevocable effect of devious crimes on the victim. Dr. Angela Morrison, a psychologist in Washington D.C., facilitates the women’s meetings at the Church with four women who all have been victimized by sexual exploitation, intimidation, neglect, and silence they restrict within themselves. She recognizes aspects of her mother in each of these women and aims to help them find themselves and their truth; however, she finds herself searching for her own truth, with the grim truth coming out in ways incomprehensible to both her and the reader until the very end.

This is an ensemble story, and each character feels both unique but relatable. The characters relive their experiences through flashbacks, recalling some disturbing situations and scenes, but each one has an essence of truth that carries a larger message. While Earnestine, Candace, and Toni may represent hapless and forlorn victims, I personally connected with Anita and her domestic abuse, but they all inspire remorse in the reader.

The message in the book that I feel should be embraced is the practice of will and determination combined with the aid of a therapist to come out of the dark past without solely relying on prayers and divinity to get us through it. Among the devious and disturbing stories of men deceptively dressed in angelic clothing, I appreciate that the author also showcases the trustworthy and humane side of the male gender. There is not only a relief for the women in the story to be around men like Kyle and Dr. Atkins, but I also felt they brought much-needed goodness to the story, representing that evil lies in intent rather than in man.

The part of the book that is uncomfortably vivid and made me squirm is the abundance of explicit descriptions of lustful passion, rapes, and sexual interplay with women and young girls. It is hard to believe that such conduct occurs in this world, so easily overlooked, affecting the victims’ futures and souls, but it does and the truth reflected in these stories is what made me squirm, not the literature that conveyed the message so skillfully.

From beginning to end this novel is filled with drama and intrigue. The revelation of Angela’s grim and unsettling secret at the end of the story caught me by surprise. While the novel is dark and reveals the unfortunate hardships hidden behind the glamorous veil of hypocrisy, it also conveys a message to be grateful for the taken-for-granted comforts of life such as family, friends, and shelter.

The Women’s Meeting is an emotionally charged story that is ultimately uplifting and always entertaining. I would caution readers as there is mature content in the book, but if you can handle it then I believe you are going to enjoy the intriguing characters and profound themes explored within.

Pages: 412 | ASIN: B081DNQCJT

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Everything All At Once

Everything All At Once by [Ivy Cayden]

Everything All at Once is part of Ivy Cayden’s Chorduroys and Too Many Boys series. Here Cayden paints a fresh and interesting narrative portraying all the ups and downs of teenage life. It’s filled-to-the-brim with interesting characters and twisting plot developments. This riveting story follows our main character, Kila Lorens, and how she navigates her way through relationships and teenage life in general. Cayden paints a vivid and realistic picture of teenage life. The worries and trials and tribulations young people typically face are things often forgotten as we get older, like worrying about our first kiss, heartbreak, and losing friends. The book does a fantastic job of capturing the emotional turmoil of that time in our lives. Young people will undoubtedly find themselves relating to parts of this story, and adults will be treated to waves of embarrassing yet-somehow-comforting nostalgia.

Aspects of this book felt very personal and raw, cringy in a good way, but the nostalgia brought it back to being charming. I thoroughly enjoyed being thrown back into my younger years through this book. My favorite element of this book was the addition of an accompanying playlist; each song assigned to a part of the story. Alongside Cayden’s descriptive imagery and detail, the music added a fantastic depth to the events. I felt far more immersed and connected to the mood and the character’s conflicts while listening to the songs they were listening to in the story. All the songs were clearly selected carefully to fit the tone of the event, and they all fit perfectly. With Cayden’s great knowledge of music, hosting an indie music blog, I was not at all surprised to find so many fantastic hidden gems in this playlist. I truly adored this element of the book, alongside the story itself, because of how much more it added to it. This element really set it apart from other typical teen-fiction I’ve read in the past.

Everything All At Once is a charming and emotionally stirring novel. The immersive and relatable conflicts were so exciting and addictive that I found myself unable to put the book down! I would love to read more of Cayden’s work in the future.

Pages: 496 | ASIN: B07NZ115DG

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Skinny House

Skinny House: A Memoir of Family, by Julie L. Seely is, despite the title, a story about much more than just a house. It is about the fascinating people of the Seely family that lived within it. Their stories are brought to the reader by one of the family members, the house builder Nathan Seely’s granddaughter. Her experience and some research allow every reader to understand what goes on in the tiny house.

Seely writes in a captivating and detailed way, giving us insights into her family’s inspirational story and helping everyone understand what each family member has gone through during their difficult lives. As a reader keen on details, I appreciated the effort put into researching and describing the lives of the people the author barely met, like her grandfather Nathan and describing his life at the beginning of the 20th century.

The book does a fantastic job of creating detailed portraits of the people in the family, and it really transports readers to that time and place in a fascinating way, but I felt like the book moved slowly because of all these details. If you are looking for a book that dives deep into the lives of interesting people, then Skinny House is a perfect fit for you.

Skinny House: A Memoir of Family tells an emotionally resonant story that I think every reader will be able to relate to in one way or another because of how realistic and authentic these people feel due to the wonderful writing of author Julie L. Seely. I recommend this book to any reader keen on African American entrepreneur success during a time when racism was everywhere, to readers keen on history and for anyone looking for a book on real life stories that are inspiring.

I would like to end this review with my favorite quote from the book: “Despite its title, this book is no simple story about an odd narrow-built dwelling. It’s about the family who lived in the house and the patriarch who built it”.

Pages: 211 | ASIN: B07N8H4N4C

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The Prisoner’s Cross

The Prisoner’s Cross is a riveting Christian fiction novel that explores spirituality in our every day lives. Author Peter B. Unger provides readers with a thought-provoking book that questions faith only to forge a path towards a renewed inspiration in that same faith.

Afflicted with rage due to the death of the only members of his family he ever loved and the deeply traumatic events that occurred in his childhood, the reasons of which may be incomprehensible to a mere mortal, our protagonist, Don Campbell, manifests his despair in destructive ways. The Prisoner’s Cross chronicles Don’s journey towards a renewed faith and trust in the invariable love and goodwill of Christ.

Author Peter B. Unger, a UCC pastor who holds a graduate degree in psychology of religion, has written a compelling tale that examines the universal question regarding the inexplicable sufferings of mankind and the corruption of one’s faith in God. I think Don represents the people of faith who seem stuck in a perpetual state of being confused and overexcited by differences in values and beliefs that exist within different sects of religion, to the point that they analyze faith to such an extent that they sacrifice its essence.

The book is able to break down and portray complex ideas into easy to understand situations that will appeal to younger audiences. The reader anticipates Jop’s experiences as a POW in World War 2 as much as Don does. In addition, Don’s reflections during his interview with Jop enrich the reader’s understanding of the subject. Don’s friendship with Tom and Cindy, Jop’s faith experience, and McCall’s assistance, all of which shapes Don’s spiritual life, provided me with a glimpse of different types of love God has for all of us.

The Prisoner’s Cross is a spiritually invigorating read that leaves the reader with a lot to ponder. Besides the traditional dogmatic faith, it exposes the faith dissipating under the weight of rational and scientific values. Professors’ unwillingness to entertain questions challenging their adamant views is also portrayed in Professor Wilson’s attitude. While the author unravels Don’s complex character, the book also shows how unhealthy relationship experiences manifest themselves later in life. I think this book is written for those who want to grow in their understanding of God’s grace and experience it in new and interesting ways.

Pages: 180 | ISBN: 1532696132

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