Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Obsession

Dawn Brotherton’s new mystery novel, The Obsession, tells two intertwining stories. Jackie Austin, a young woman in the Air Force, has recently bought a new home, although her career means she can’t spend too much time there. Jackie is the first female missilier, and her job takes her away from home a lot. Weird things start happening in her house, and she doesn’t know if she’s just being absent-minded, if someone’s pranking her, or if it’s more sinister.

Meanwhile, someone is murdering young women nearby. The police are doing their best, but the killer is crafty. It seems like a serial killer is targeting young single women, who are a lot like Jackie herself.

The novel is told in alternating, third-person sections, bringing both story lines together for an exciting finish. The author blends factual details of Air Force work to create a realistic setting for this mystery novel. Some of the subplots really rely on everyday details about Air Force life, like the “slam book” where bored workers can leave useful notes for the next shift, chat by pen with off-duty coworkers, or start nasty rumors.  Jackie’s friendships and relationships were clearly shaped by military life and scheduling, and the experience of being a woman in such a male-dominated area. This makes Jackie an interesting and easily relatable protagonist, which in turn makes readers worry about her safety as the drama unfolds.

I particularly enjoyed the hints, because there was a great mix of foreshadowing and red herrings, and it was fun to try to figure it out along with Jackie. As the reader grows to care about Jackie, it’s hard not to view everyone around her with suspicion. When strange things start to happen, there are just so many possibilities! Is one of the guys at work joking around, trying to play a silly prank on a teammate? Is a male coworker jealous of her success and deliberately trying to frighten and unsettle her? Or is she the target of a killer?

Without revealing too many spoilers, I will say that I enjoyed Jackie’s good sense under pressure. Even when in danger, Jackie’s no damsel in distress. The novel blends some of the unique challenges of being a women in the Air Force with a murder mystery.

This is the first in a planned trilogy of Jackie Austin mysteries.

Pages: 213 | ASIN: B004J8HTH6

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Ruby Ransom

Ruby Ransom by [D’union, Linda]

Ruby Ransom is equal parts mystery and equal parts adventure spiced with a bit of romance. What starts as just another night in the hospital is the start of a series of thrilling events that will send young nurse Rachel to an exotic country where she must face down rebels to help save a kidnapped child. All of this delivered in a little over 100 pages.

This story starts slows but, like an airplane taking off, quickly picks up speed. The twists come just as quickly as Rachel, and the reader, is given new information. Each new chapter brings a new and unexpected direction to her journey. All the while driven by the need to help a child that’s been kidnapped under mysterious circumstances in a far-off country.

Rachel receives helps along the way from her grandmother, and an old friend of the family, and a young man that ends up being much more than he first appears. I felt that Rachel’s character, overtime, was the most developed, but other characters lacked the depth that Rachel was given.

The story is told from Rachel’s first person perspective in a straightforward manner. Like a nurse who must keep logs of patients, the story is told in a similar manner, as if it’s a log of events that happened. Because of this I felt like the delivery of this otherwise intriguing story was stilted. Rachel is given vital plot driving information in large sections of exposition. But in this manner of story telling the book is consistent.

While every good mystery novel must have twists that the reader doesn’t see coming. I can honestly say that every twist in this book surprised me. I, along with Rachel, wanted to know what was going on and I was glad that Rachel and I (the reader) were on the same page. While Rachel is whisked along on this perilous journey through exotic locales, we get to learn a little about the region and local culture, which I appreciated.

Ruby Ransom delivers a circuitous yet thrilling journey set against an exotic location in an unambiguous way. Perfect for anyone looking for a romantic suspense novel that is easy to devour in a day or two.

Pages: 104 | ASIN: B00HZNG9L4

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The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of the Hunters

The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of the Hunters by [Bailey, T. L.]

Eve has to get away from Nyx so that she can learn her powers, but it’s not a situation she would prefer but it has to be done. While she’s gone Nyx unleashes evil of all sorts. Thinking they have found a paradise, Eve and the others inadvertently get into bed with the enemy. They meet Lea and James whose depravity they could not begin to contemplate. They all have to fight a demon they do not understand. They must come together as a group if they are to survive. Without their collective wit and survival skills, they might never escape the labyrinth. How do they begin to understand their enemy? Will they live to tell the tale?

For a second installment in a series, this book does not disappoint. T.L. Bailey lives up to her reputation and produces a compelling tale of a team of survivors. A thrilling narration of people who are determined to fight to tooth and nail for the good of humanity. T.L. Bailey plunges the reader right into that abyss with the characters. The story is intricate and filled with well developed characters in a dark but richly developed setting. From the author’s masterful use and manipulation of language, the reader will find the chaos engaging but easy to follow. In simpler terms, be prepared to suffer right alongside Eve and the charming Black.

The dialogue is captivating in its simplicity. The relationships between characters are slow to start but profound once they have time to develop. There is something different in every relationship which is something that I looked forward to when the story circled back to them. The humor in the interactions, I thought, was sometimes out of place but usually fitting. It brought moments off levity that were well executed but broke the well established tension. To be scared of what could come next one moment but smile at something funny the next. That requires skill. I have mixed feeling about this to say the least.

Black is quite the fellow. He especially stands out when he speaks on the nature of human beings. He says that human beings are best when they are at their worst. It is easy to feel like he is the anchor of this whole story. Like he serves a larger role than anyone else. Eve seems inexperienced and almost naive. But, with Black around one feels certain that she could really use her learned power to serve and save others.

There are very minor, very rare instances of misspellings like ‘mist’ instead of ‘midst’. However, this book is far too entertaining and intriguing to penalize it for something ever so mundane. The sheer detail of narration and skillful writing makes it a gem.

Pages: 273 | ISBN: 1980478775

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The Silver Tabby

The Silver Tabby by Rachael Higgins is a children’s short story about a family of four kittens. There are three boys with black fur just like their Mama, and the fourth kitten is a gray stripe named Silver. She is smaller than her brothers (Shadow, Sooty, and Smoky) and she tries hard to keep up, but the boys don’t let her play with them. Then Silver is playing by herself one day, chasing a butterfly, and she falls into a deep pit filled with black rocks. She meows for help, but no one comes. After she saves herself, she catches a glimpse of her reflection in a pond. Silver’s coat has been turned black by the rocks from the pit. Will the black kittens want to play with her now that she looks just like them?

This is a fantastic story that I simply enjoyed. I love cats and I enjoyed reading about Silver and her family. My favorite part of the book were the pictures which were watercolor illustrations by Grace Elliott. They depicted scenes from the story beautifully and elegantly. A couple of the drawings at the beginning of the book were humorous, showing only the black cats’ rear ends as they left poor little Silver behind.

This book provides a message of hope and encouragement to children who are feeling lonely and isolated. The moral of The Silver Tabby is that it is alright to be different from other people. I didn’t like that the boys only welcomed Silver when she looked like them, but such is life. This is a tough lessons for many children to learn today. The boys excluded her when she was different, but in the end the boys still wanted to play with her even after finding out that she was actually Silver.

This story contains life lessons told through beautiful illustrations that is perfect for a parent to read to a child so that they can discuss the difficulties that Silver faces.

Pages: 26 | ISBN: 1797694057

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The Farthest-Reaching Ball

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Every mother’s journey is unique, however, they all share one thing: heartache. In one way or another, every mother travels down a difficult road as she fights tooth and nail to bring her child to adulthood unscathed. Sandra Bowman, author of The Farthest-Reaching Ball: A Memoir of Motherhood is no stranger to heartache. As the mother of two children, Grant and Parker, Bowman relates the trials and tribulations she overcomes as she raises her children virtually on her own. A mother’s love is nowhere more evident than in Bowman’s explanation of how she comes to understand the needs of her children and the struggle that has permeated her son’s life since an early age.

Sandra Bowman describes virtually every aspect of her journey as a mother in her poignant memoir, The Farthest-Reaching Ball. She details the birth of her sons so vividly that I felt, as the reader, that I attended the delivery. Her emotions surrounding the births are clearly drawn, and any parent who has experienced a particularly difficult birth will appreciate how very frank Bowman is with her details.

As a teacher, I am struck by the battle Bowman and her son, Grant, face as he begins school. His gifts are both amazing and obvious to all, but the obstacles he faces are numerous. Children with talents beyond those of the average child are often overlooked in the regular classroom, and they are not always afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills. Grant is one of those children with a mother on a mission to find a setting that suits her child’s best interests.

When Bowman’s son begins to experience behavior challenges and depression sets in, the author’s challenges multiply. Moreover, Grant’s own slowly-revealed identity crisis begins to consume his thoughts and every interaction. Bowman is more than understanding and is the proverbial mother bear–she is fierce and stops at nothing to make sure her child is content with himself. The author is beyond adept at communicating her feelings and her ever-fluctuating fears regarding Grant’s mental state. His worries are her worries, and his unhappiness is hers to bear.

There doesn’t seem to be a problem Bowman and her son haven’t endured. From excessive weight gain, to depression, to attention deficit disorder, Grant runs the gamut. Bowman is exceptionally open with her own feelings of defeat, despair, and utter helplessness. She is at loss as to how to help her son deal with an identity crisis that threatens to be the end of them all. Mothers of all walks of life can relate to Bowman’s honesty as she admits to her own suicidal thoughts.

I am impressed with Bowman’s forthrightness and openness. She lays out every frustration, worry, and obstacle for readers and shares with them the most intimate of details about her own regrets as a mother. Parents of children struggling with identity crises of all types will appreciate Bowman’s story.

 

Myrrendryl

Myrrendryl by [Lord, Kirby]

What starts off as just another teenager-focused bully story quickly shows its teeth to reveal something decidedly darker. The fear and emotion felt by the main protagonist seem both plausible and real, and the dysfunctional home life that he is forced to live through is also crafted to feel quite genuine.

We learn early on in this dark urban fantasy novel that Davey was forced by his difficulties to mentally escape into worlds of movie characters that he looked up to. He imagined himself overcoming his difficulties in a similar way that heroes from his favorite movies had, and it made him feel good to think that he could live in someone else’s shoes.

It doesn’t take long for Davey to find the escape he was looking for. What he found was something he never would have thought possible.

The world that Davey finds seems perfect to him. He cannot see any of the violence, abuse, or bullying that tortured him up to the point of finding ‘Cardboard City’. What he does see is a tight-knit community of kids living free from adult oppression. They govern themselves and seem to have a good hold on how to get things done, their way. Davey quickly feels right at home with his new friends. Friends that he would change his life forever.

As time goes on, Davey and the other kids grow up, but they stay connected to one another in a variety of ways. The connections that show up throughout the story between characters, and how their individual stories interconnect is impressively crafted.

Lord has a talent for characterization and building believable interactions between characters like no other. The reader is taken for a ride through several lives as they search for a deeper meaning and it is a pleasure to follow them and experience what they do.

The writing is simple yet has plenty of the details necessary to set a scene and show the inner-workings of the characters. One can easily get a feel for where you are, who is involved with each scene, and what events are unfolding. The pace is steady, as well, making for a story that is difficult to put down.

Myrrendryl by Kirby Lord, is a first novel by the incredible author, but you would never know that. If you like dark fantasy stories that questions the fabric of our reality, Myrrendryl is a must read.

Pages: 400 | ASIN: B07MXZQ9QW

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The Rhine

The Rhine (Harmony Book 1) by [Dean, R.L.]

The Martians have been ‘enslaved’ by earth for many years and they want their freedom back. It’s rumored that a movement has been formed to rebel against the UN. A movement thought to be behind the pirate attacks in the Belt including one on the Sadie. Matt and his crew may have found proof of this rebellion. The question remains though, is the evidence enough? Will it prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the rebellion is led by Martians? Can Governor Gerhard Schultz find a solution to the difficult situation? Can the governor find reprieve for Martians without going against the UN? How will Apex Mining CEO go about being forced to go against the government?

One of the most enjoyable things about this book is that it is quite relatable. While the real United Nations is (probably) not like the one in the book. One can still compare the colonialism in the book to the neocolonialism that is rampant now. One can find the similarity in Alexandria’s position with that which is faced by many people in her position. The Rhine is both interesting and entertaining while speaking to many modern issues.

R. L. Dean is impeccable and his skills at painting word pictures is on full display. He easily pulls you into his story, and before you know it your in the deep end of a thought provoking science fiction novel. This is a thrilling novel that kept me engrossed from the moment I met Matt to the very end. This science fiction story, although set in the future and in space, is still believable, which is something I always look for in my sci-fi stories.

Matt is a good leader that gets along with his crew but also remains firm and well respected. Alexandria, like any other child who takes over from their esteemed parent, is misunderstood and underestimated. She is admirable in the way she handles Edgar. R. L. Dean is able to balance the characters just enough to understand who they are while still keeping an air of mystery around them.

Everything from descriptions to dialogue are succinct and engrossing. Or it could be that the book was so immensely enjoyed that the discrepancies faded into the background. I loved experiencing the ride with Matt, Yuri and Haydon, and it was enlightening to be in the boardroom with Alexandria giving glimpses into her home life.

At the heart of it, this book is about freedom and how to achieve it. Would you like to achieve freedom through aggression or would you like to be more civil about it?

Pages: 273 | ASIN: B07LD2CQ11

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Destined To Date A Good Man

Destined To Date A Good Man: No More Counterfeits! by [Thomas, Daisy]

Dating is hard. Finding a man that aligns with your values and personal beliefs is even harder. There are a lot of men out in the world that are just looking to take advantage of a women, that don’t believe women are equal or deserving of equal treatment, and that honestly care only for themselves. Daisy Thomas has put together a book to help women navigating the world of dating avoid the problem men and find a partner that is grounded in God and good intentions.

When you start reading this book, you will find it reads more like a dissertation or informational article. Daisy Thomas’s writing style is very direct and to the point, so you won’t get warm fuzzy feelings reading her words of wisdom. Some of the main topics that she covers is trusting your gut, identifying counterfeit personalities, and finding men that share your values in God and family. There is a strong emphasis on finding a person that has a Godly heart and Godly intentions as well as one that shares your values with family and how to live. Daisy Thomas emphasizes finding someone to share your goals and dreams with that is going to support you and not kill your spirit to feed their own personal agenda.

This is a short book, only around 100 pages. However, it is filled with knowledge of how to recognize abusive behavior in a partner. It highlights the patterns that most abusers make and gives you the tell-tale warning signs so you can hopefully get away before it is too late. Anyone that believes in God, and that God has a plan for you, this is a good read for. It uses direct quotes from the bible to back up her views, it is well written to convey her message, and shows women there is more out there and they don’t have to settle for the first man that shows them any interest.

Pages: 110 | ASIN: B07982KQ8G

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The World’s Greatest Mousetrap

The World's Greatest Mousetrap by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Mice don’t grin. Mice certainly don’t chuckle. Or do they? For dear old Reginald, devoted reader and shopkeeper, a grinning mouse in his bookshop simply won’t do. Children and adults alike will delight in reading along as Reginald makes several hapless attempts to catch the cleverest mouse of all time in B.C.R Fegan’s The World’s Greatest Mousetrap. Will Reginald’s madcap quest to construct increasingly elaborate traps succeed in catching one tiny mouse, or, will he end up catching his customers instead!?

In this warm and humorous tale of determination and unlikely friendship, Fegan offers a look at what could happen if humans let go of preconceived notions and open their minds to new ideas. Fanny Liem’s illustrations are instantly engaging for children and, importantly, intriguing for adults. Readers’ will enjoy Liem’s drawings and Fegan’s writing of the distinctively bespectacled Reginald as a slightly zany and lovable bibliophile whose expressive eyes tell of excitement, resolve, and kindness. Fegan has a knack for turning a small story in a small setting into a laugh-out-loud epic battle between mouse and man. Can you guess who wins? This is a cozy, funny, and heart-warming tale for all ages.

Pages: 44 | ASIN: B07PB4NHBY

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol: (Retold by Norman Whaler and Illustrated by Bianca Milacic) by [Whaler, Norman]

Norman Whaler’s A Christmas Carol is an exceptional retelling of a classic Christmas story. The story of stingy and selfish old Scrooge who learns through a series of ghostly visits that he has the power to ease the suffering of others and bring joy to those around him.

Norman Whaler tells this story in short rhymes that were spot on every time. The rhythm’s were short and succinct but still summed up the expanded story perfectly. Each page is accompanied by high quality art that supports the narrative and fits the book’s tone. The art is so good that I wanted to see more of it. I felt like some of the paragraphs, because they summarized so much of the story, could have been on another page with it’s own art to give life to what was being told. But this is a critique that comes out of the desire to see more of the exceptional artwork already displayed.

This is a retelling of a classic Christmas story that highlights Christian themes throughout the book with a deft touch. At the end of the book readers are treated to bonus material in the way of Christmas sheet music. I can imagine that this book would be a nice way to start a Christmas night with the family, with a story followed by songs.

If you love Christmas stories, especially the classic one of Scrooge, you will want to pick this up for the young readers in your home.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B07QF4BPKG

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