Category Archives: Five Stars

Front Porches to Front Lines

Front Porches to Front Lines: One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing and Money during World War One by [Perlsweig, Simon]

Simon I. Perlsweig’s historical account of the lives of the author’s great grandparents and the communication between them shows a great deal of what life in Springfield, VT was like in the 1910’s. It is very possible that without this work, much of what Perlsweig writes about in Front Porches to Front Lines: One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing, and Money During World War One, would never have been pieced together. It is a real pleasure to be able to experience this slice of history. Simon Perlsweig does this astoundingly and it is clearly evident that he put his heart and soul into his work.

Perlsweig’s book takes readers to Springfield, and more importantly, into the lives of a couple whose lives were greatly affected by WWI. There was, of course, the impact on the couple in question, Lawrence and Gladys, but readers are shown how everything else in the small Vermont town was changed forever, as well, and to make matters worse, war wouldn’t be the only problem faced by this couple.

Historically speaking, this work is a gem. There is a wealth of information on virtually every aspect of life in the United States in the early 20th Century, and even when the familial part of the work is not considered, Front Porches to Front Lines holds its own as a historical text due to the attention given to the social, economic, and political issues, among many more.

The research is thorough, and the writing style employed by the author is academic, while at the same time being accessible to a diverse audience. With such a breadth of information contained within the pages of this book, it’s definitely a plus using language that is not too complicated.

Another aspect of the book that many readers should enjoy is the fact that there is a large amount of authentic memorabilia from the period, including recruiting posters, family photos, government documents, and much more.

Simon I. Perlsweig’s Front Porches to Front Lines, published by Husky Trail Press LLC, is certainly a work that should not be ignored. It is not everyday that we are invited into the human experience of those who lived through one of America’s most trying times, and it’s even rarer that we get such a personal touch as the one here.

Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07MY6GLD5

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Greater Things Than Thou

Greater Things Than Thou (Blood of the Prince Book 1) by [Dean, R.L.]

His first memories were of his town burning to the ground. He doesn’t remember his parents or where he lived, only flames, death, and fear. Baler, a mentally unstable ‘king’ to his community of bandits, takes him to raise as his own son. In this bandit camp he is known only as boy. On a raid several years later Galin and Garret save him and give him a real home, hone his skills and give him a name, Patrin. A mix of medieval style living and culture with an alien technology thrown in to add a unique twist to the tale of an exiled king recovering his thrown.

Greater Things than Thou by R. L. Dean is well written with each chapter starting out with a sort of monologue / overview from his perspective as an old man. On the surface the setting and time period is that of medieval style though not from standard Europe. There are clear class systems from farmers to royalty. Most technology, for the non-Gifted, is what you would find in Medieval times, horses, carts and crossbows. The world that R. L. Dean has created involves the addition of an alien technology. This technology allows them to heal at remarkable levels and see things within their mind that no one else can see. It increases their intelligence and augments their bodies based on their individual packages and their jobs. Patrin is trying to destroy all remaining tech to prevent further use of it by anyone. The remainder of the story is his life from a small boy to young adult. I really liked the detail that went into Patrin’s thoughts and how he processed everything. How he adapted to each new situation life throws at him, and the technology that is implanted into his body. He is genuinely a character that wants to see the good and morality in all people and do the right thing. He eludes to his oath to Galin as being the cause of his moral missteps and failings later in life. The reader can get a real feel for the people he develops emotions for, Garret, Serin, Xadik and especially Lena. His relationship with Lena is one of young love, the awkwardness of first loves, and highlights the complications of his life thanks to his oath of loyalty to Galin.

As the first book in the series, Blood of the Prince, it is a great introduction to the main characters and how Patrin gets his start in life. Based on the monologues at the beginning of the chapters, I can tell the rest of this series is going to be full of adventures, plot twists, and action. It is a story about loyalty even to a fault, finding your way, and redemption of character. This is going to be an exciting series to follow.

Pages: 283 | ASIN: B077BVF5HT

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Jai the Albino Cow

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’Ombe Zeruzeru by Gloria D. Gonsalves (with illustrations by Nikki Ng’ombe) is a book intended for children in Grades 3-4. The story features a family of Ankole cows that live in the meadows of Kole Hills. There are two brothers, Lutalo (Bello Bello) and Tokei (Spotty), and their sister, Anjait (known as Jai). But Jai is different–she’s an albino cow. And some of the cows in Kole Hills believe that she is cursed. But others believe that she is a relative of unicorns. And it’s true. She is a magical cow whose dancing produces stars, silver glitter, and a rainbow of colors. She is the first female cow to join the dance of the cattle kings.

I really enjoyed this book, especially the fact that the story is written in two languages, with both shown on the same page. Besides English, Jai’s adventure is also told in Swahili. Which allows a larger audience to read the book, as well as helps to teach readers another language.

I liked the message in this story, that what makes a cow (or person) different is what makes them special. This book teaches children to show kindness to others, even those who are different. And it also encourages children to try new things, even things that no one else has ever tried before.

I loved the illustration that were included in the book, showing various scenes from the story. The pictures, showing Jai and her family and the Kole Hillls, featured realism rather than cartoonish qualities and were drawn using vivid colors that appeal to young readers.

I would have liked it if the story had been just a little bit longer and included Bello Bello and Spotty’s reaction to seeing their sister’s magical abilities, but otherwise this was a great book.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07HBZ8D5T

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Life of the Sailor: The Psychology of Who We Are

Anyone looking for an in-depth discussion on what it means to be whole and happy would certainly benefit from reading Chester Litvin’s Life of the Sailor: The Psychology of Who We Are. Litvin creates an easily digestible work on an extremely complex topic. The author comes from, as he terms it, “the Soviet Collective,” and has clearly dedicated much of his career to understanding the psychological effects of radicalization of the human psyche.

Litvin goes to great length to help his readers understand why it is that there are always certain specific roles being played out within society, and how those roles are all a part of who we are as human beings. Coming from an oppressive society that fed on reducing individualism, the author sees himself as an adventurer into the psyche where he can begin dialogues between all the different splits in the human psyche in hopes that finding ways to nurture every part of the whole will result in a complete, happy, and satisfied life and self-awareness.

Through the use of characterization, the author makes it possible for readers to quickly grasp the concept of a person’s psyche being split into a variety of parts due to both internal and external traumas. There are characters who represent all the various types of splits that one could experience along the road to finding a completed version of themselves, and Litvin expresses the vital role of these characters to create healthy dialogues in order to mend the splits that exist between them.

More than just showing his readers that it is possible for a psyche to split into sections that become distant from one another, Litvin goes into great detail to show the methods and concepts that are required to close the gaps that exist within us all.

While some may not quite be ready to take on this type of intense personal introspection, the subject matter is still important and interesting in many ways. For example, learning more about the roots of some of our most troubling psychological states, including fear, anger, and others, helps to understand and cope with these types of things whether they are internal or external.

Chester Litvin’s Life of the Sailor: The Psychology of Who We Are is an eye-opening work. Whether the concepts discussed within are new to you or you have studied them before, the author discusses many important aspects of our nature as people, and he does so in a way that can be understood by all.

Pages: 228 | ISBN: 1450219047

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Seven Days in Lebanon

Seven Days in Lebanon by [Tremayne, Eleanor]

In the early 1900’s in old Russia, the beginnings of the Russian revolution are forming. The aristocrat class is in danger and families are making plans to escape before the war takes not only their homes and properties, but their lives. Olga is a young doctor and the only daughter of Natasha Vishnievsky. Her father arranges for her to escape, unfortunately things do not go as planned. Seven Days in Lebanon is a book filled with history and based off the real life of Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff, Eleanor Tremayne’s grandmother. The book covers three generations of women’s lives in the family and is weaved together through journal entries, memories, and an ambitious well off artist looking for meaning in his own life.

The story starts out in Russia, but quickly moves into Olga’s escape from the Bolshevik army and the journey she takes is not an easy one. Fate kept her alive on more than one occasion and her skill as a doctor kept her alive more than once as well. The beginning of the book goes into detail about her escape from Russia and, eventual marriage to Prince of Kiva, through journal entries and stories that Olga is telling her granddaughter Anastasia. Olga’s mother Natasha kept a journal of notes, family history, and memories meant for Olga. However, it was never reunited with her and ended up in the hands of Damian Tolbert a rich French artist that writes and shoots photography.

The story’s point of view jumps around a lot, going from Olga, to Anastasia, sometimes her parents, and to Damian. The time lines are also mixed and mingled, it is not told in a linear fashion rather just like it would be listening to a family member, bits and pieces here and there and you have to assemble it all together in order in your own mind. It is confusing at first but soon you realize that the writing style is slightly different for each point of view. It draws you in despite the jumps. Knowing this novel is based on real events that took place in the life of the author’s grandmother, Olga, makes the story that much more interesting. These are first hand events and stories passed down from one generation to the next, a lost tradition.

There are some harsh topics and some graphic details involving death, and rape, and murder. However, they are told from the perspective of facts and not in a sensational manner. It is just how things were back in that time. There are times the stories feel like a history lesson and times like a day dream. The mix of styles makes this book intriguing and you want to keep reading it. The sad and brutal events are mixed with hope and promise of a better future.

Aside from the history element, seeing Anastasia discovering her heritage is probably my favorite part. How things from the past, little things like that raven imagery all start build a bigger picture for her and she grows into her heritage that prior to Olga’s death she said she didn’t care about. This is a great telling of a family and their history told in a manner that is fun and engaging and not like that of an autobiography or history book. This would be a great choice for anyone looking for a book club book or discussion group.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07NJJTGYJ

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The Money Trail

The Money Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 5) by [Fields, J.C.]

The Money Trail is another excellent edition to and Sean Kruger series. Once again we meet Sean Kruger and his band of intriguing friends. It’s obvious that Fields cares about his characters as the development of core characters that have been present throughout the series is extremely well done. There’s just enough action to get your heart pumping and just enough drama to have you on the edge of your seat.

It takes skill to keep readers coming back again and again to read about the same characters in slightly similar situations. It can get redundant and boring when executed poorly. That is not what readers will find in this book. Lovers of the Sean Kruger Series will only find more of what they’ve come to love and expect out of Fields. His characters are well developed, the action and drama are paced well and the twists and turns will have readers guessing with just the right amount of bait. It’s hard to put down a book in the Kruger series once you’ve picked it up and The Money Trail is no exception.

Fields has been writing these books for nearly five years. That’s a long time to keep characters straight and ensure that you don’t have them acting out of turn. Clearly Fields has a method to his madness as every book further develops the characters personalities and honors their growth from installment to installment. His books have won awards and are sure to influence a generation of readers. High praise for someone who began as an Indie writer making a break on their own.

Reading an installment of the Sean Kruger Series can be bitter-sweet. There is the thrill of the read: finding out what Kruger is up to now, where he will go and who he will bring with him. But there is also the disappointment when it ends because you simply want more. The Money Trail by J.C. Fields brings out that feeling effortlessly. It’s such an engaging read that is engrossing and fun. This book is an excellent installment in the series and I can’t wait for the next thrilling drama he gets caught up in.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07MTMCCDQ

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The Dark Age Chronicles

This is such an easy book to get lost in! I had so much fun reading this, I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I have found a new love for these fantasy type books that create an incredible world that you can’t help but feel like you are a part of. The fact that this book had so many mythical components as well as incredible characters and a fantastic story line just makes it even more intriguing.

If you are looking for a book that speaks to you, one that makes you feel like you are a part of something, then this book is definitely one you are going to want to pick up. When Eve realizes that she is the light in the dark days, after being abused and treated like a servant all of her life, it’s incredible. It was like watching an abused dog be taken in by a loving family, the way that the author describes the things that happen in this world, especially to Eve, it’s unbelievable, but you don’t want to put the book down because you are rooting for Eve to defeat evil.

There are two other books in this series that I cannot wait to get my hands on, there are just so many elements of this series that I wish it were a movie, or television show. You watch this story unfold in front of your eyes, and it’s like you’re no longer reading, you’re actually there, taking part in the action yourself. That’s how you know you found an incredible book, when you no longer feel as if you’re sitting on your couch but rather in the throes of action.

I definitely recommend this book to people who want some adventure, mystery and thrill in their stories. Eve is an incredible character, who doesn’t take any backtalk from anyone and is willing to put her life on the line for the good of mankind. Even though she is beaten down, and has been her entire life, she rises again and again to defeat the evil that has come to try and steal the life out of everyone around her. I cannot wait for you to read this book and love it as much as I did.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: 1980483159

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The Tribulations of August Barton

The Tribulations of August Barton by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]

The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a  nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.

This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real  problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1

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“Mama Sou”: Metamorphosis of a Mother

MAMA SOU is the true story of a young mother who gets her son taken away. This book is pure love and emotion and nearly had me in tears several times. As the story unfolds, you see how much love Maria has for her son, and how she will do anything to get him back. She is strong, independent, and ready to fight for what is hers. Aside from the incredible story that is being told in these pages, the writing is superb and beautifully delivers a fully realized vision of the characters and the places they inhabit. It is incredible the lengths that people go to for their family, and the fact that this is someone’s real story is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Whether you are a parent or not, you will feel the love that went into writing this story, and the emotions between the people in the story. The author, the mother herself, pours her heart into every chapter. I’ve read some books like this one, where a young mother struggles to gain her family back, but there is something special about Maria’s story. Maybe it’s the year that it happened, which was some 40 years ago, when these types of things weren’t really talked about, or maybe it’s because it happened in Greece. Either way, it holds a special place in my heart, and I will not forget this story any time soon.

As someone who has suffered from depression most of my life, seeing how Maria handled her depression was inspirational. That fact that she was able to fight for what she so desperately needed, all while dealing with mental illness, was incredible. I fully enjoyed this book, I think that whether you have kids or not, you will find some special meaning within these pages. The story is sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, but definitely full of lessons to learn for everyone that reads it. I only wish that we could learn more about Maria and her story, and more about her son.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: B0793VJFFG

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Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir

Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir by [Pomerantz, Diane]

I was truly touched by this memoir by Diane Pomerantz.  Her honesty and candor, as well as her shard recollection of her life’s experiences is truly inspiring and, as a person interested in human relationships, I found this book speaking to my soul. Diane Pomerantz writes as if in conversation. Perhaps this comes from her decades of work as a child psychologist. The writing has a conversational flow and is emotional without being overly flowery or expressive. She states later in the book that writing is very therapeutic for her and this is evident to the reader.

This is a memoir about a life full of challenging experiences to which many people can relate but also moments that are so unique to her story. The author takes us through her years as a married person and into her later years and up to the present. We experience her meeting her husband.  He is a physician and she is a child psychologist. They build a life together, including many issues with fertility and adoption. We experience their early years of marriage, including intense difficulties with fertility and adoption. There are many heartbreaking incidents like when the young couple adopts a baby, names him, and brings him home only to find out that the birth mother has changed her mind. It is inspiring how the author faces these challenges, she is rocked to the core but also finds a way to move forward. It’s beautiful how she got both of her children. I loved this part of the story. It made me laugh when she said her daughter liked her new brother for the first few weeks but was then ready to send him back! My son said similar things about his baby brother in the beginning, so this made me smile.

As the years go on, we watch her husband’s true personality come to forefront. It is truly disturbing to watch this unfold. She sees certain things in the beginning that are red flags but continues raising her children with him and even working together. There is a story about how she and Charles co-treat a young woman for anxiety and Pomerantz is alarmed by his dismissive response to the patient. Through the author’s struggles with illness she discovers more and more truths about her husband. It was alarming to read the breakdown of their partnership and his actions and state of mind. Her descriptions were so alarming at times, yet I believed every detail.

There is a lot of difficulty, trauma, and heartbreak in this book, but it all comes around to a positive ending and left me feeling like I was more aware in my own marriage and relationships. I like that she is able to move forward without anger, even though she doesn’t have to forgive. I really enjoyed this book. The writing style was so comfortable and easy to read. The authors candor about her life are refreshing in a world where people often only want to show the good.

Pages: 337 | ASIN: B07414L8B6

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