Category Archives: Four Stars

The King of Gems

The King of Gems by [Jim Cronin]

The King of Gems, by Jim Cronin, is a science fiction/fantasy hybrid that brings together the world of advanced fantasy VR gameplay and aliens from far-off star systems. Set in the distant future, this novel focuses on Dr. Anthony Kennan, an astrophysicist working in isolation on a research base in space.

With only an android named HAL as a companion, Dr. Kennan has maintained his sanity on the research base by advancing to the highest level in a popular fantasy VR game called King of Gems. However, things take a turn when he discovers a fleet of alien species somehow downloaded themselves into the game by accident. Kennan must decide whether he is to help these strange beings or leave them to fend for themselves in this dangerous game.

Jim Cronin certainly knows how to to write deeply thoughtful science fiction while taking contemporary ideas to their extreme. The author knows how to end a chapter as well, leaving readers wanting more and making it very hard to find a good spot to put this book down. The ending to the novel was satisfying as well while still leaving just enough for the possibility of a follow up book in the future.

This is a fast-paced story, especially in the beginning, but that does not necessarily mean it is filled with action. This is a weighty story that plays with some interesting ideas in fun ways. There is a lot going on and it feels like the author wastes no time in getting the information and ideas out so he can tell a very compelling, and expansive, sci-fi story.

I’ve come to appreciate the depth that Jim Cronin novels usually have. This is an adventure story with something to say. I think the reference to Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons in the books blurb is fairly accurate. With cerebral ideas underlying this story, much like Star Trek, combined with the sheer joy you get out of a well played Dungeons and Dragons game come together in this engrossing novel.

The King of Gems is a well paced story that is intellectually invigorating. With rarely a dull moment readers will be pulled into this epic fantasy saga that is equal amounts fun and interesting.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B09N9NBCRG

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Soul Afterlife

“What happens after we die? Is there a life after death?” These are the questions that have plagued humanity since times immemorial. Unfortunately, most religions, faiths, and cultures try to answer these questions differently, while some stay silent on this. Every human at some point has worried about this, whether with the curiosity of a child or with the wisdom of old age, but no one really knows. Bud Megargee explores this fascinating topic through interviews with those that have experienced brushes with death.

Soul Afterlife: Beyond the Near-Death Experience is Bud Megargee’s journey on an unorthodox quest to find answers to these questions for himself. It seeks to satiate the author’s curiosity about questions of life, death, soul, and reincarnation through the state of being as close to death as one possibly can: Near-Death Experiences or NDE.

In this journey, to seek answers to non-traditional questions that make him question his Catholic schooling, the author seeks out the help of his spiritual guide – Shirlet Enama. Shirlet is a psychic/oracle who lives in the mountains of Berwick, Pennsylvania. The thought-provoking book’s format is light and palatable as it is a mixture of text and interviews, which keep the book interesting. However, sometimes this complex book gets hard to understand due to references to his other books without including footnotes or endnotes to explain to readers.  

Soul Afterlife: Beyond the Near-Death Experience is a compelling work that seeks to answer the question of what happens to the soul when we die. Readers that enjoy personal transformation, spirituality, and self-help books would find this a valuable read. Also, this intriguing book is recommended for anyone who, like many others before us, seeks an answer to the questions about life and death. Even though the book is a companion to Megargee’s previous works, it is still understandable to any beginner, even as a stand-alone work. 

Pages: 233 | ASIN : B085GM3HNP

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Ice Out

Francesca is a music teacher and professional flutist living the dream life in Vermont. She lives with her husband Ben, their four-year-old daughter Addie and their dog Cruz. Francesca starts from the present and goes back to the past, telling her story. Her narration takes place during a dramatic and challenging moment. Still, her flashbacks accentuate the happy and joyful moments she spent with her family, from childhood all the way to adulthood. The memories of meeting Ben, their marriage, and the birth of Addie all fade in and out in pieces. The lessons Francesca learned as a child from her parents about never breaking a promise radiating inside her. As she struggles in the ice-cold water, she finds the will to fight, believing Ben broke his promise to love and cherish her always. Her focus is finding Addie that she thinks she saw pulled from the ice by her ever-present companion Cruz.

Ice Out, by Susan Speranza, is a captivating metaphysical fiction novel. Life, death, and the question of what happens after death are insightful themes of this suspenseful and thrilling novel. Speranza writes in a detailed manner, giving the reader both moments of tension and action and moments of drama and detailed descriptions of the characters’ feelings.

This gripping novel starts with Francesca struggling to climb out of an icy lake with no information on how she ended up there. Then, the author takes readers on a winding path of flashbacks and present moments. Readers will find flashbacks build the anticipation as every one of them progresses the story and links the character’s thoughts in the present moment to critical moments in their past. A thought-provoking story of both hope and betrayal, readers will be left to consider is their life after death, what is the meaning of life, and differentiating dreams from reality.

Ice Out is an emotional rollercoaster with an intricate psychological plot. Readers who enjoy metaphysical fiction, thriller, or psychological fiction novels will be drawn into this riveting story.

I would like to end this review with an inspirational quote from the book itself: “From that moment of abandon, two souls merge. She understands then that he is her fate, her destiny. And their separate stories now become one”.


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All This Was Mission

All This Was Mission, by S.J. Cunningham, is Madeline’s journey of self and spiritual discovery. Madeline goes to an isolated resort called Ashrama in the hopes of getting rest. However, she soon realizes that there is much work to be done before going back to the life she had.

Madeline and all who go to Ashrama are there to deal with their past. Upon arriving, you follow a routine and choose a new name. Madeline, now going by Maya, navigates through her time at Ashrama. She meets new people along the way that are on their own healing journey. As they open up about their struggles, Maya is trying to understand why she was sent to this place and what in her life brought her to this point. Maya helps others find their way, and eventually, she shares her story. After revealing her life story, Maya has a sense that her time at Ashrama is done, and she must return to her life. Although she is going back, she is an entirely different person now.

Cunningham writes beautifully, and readers will get carried away reading this story. The characters have depth and meaning, each adding to the storyline as you continue reading. Cunningham makes the reader empathize with her characters and delivers a deep understanding of what they are experiencing on this journey. In addition, there are mature topics discussed throughout the book that make this appropriate for an older audience.

Ashrama was a place of healing that the characters began to question as they experienced otherworldly things. This gives readers a lot of questions that build the anticipation and suspense in the novel.

All This Was Mission, by S.J. Cunningham, is a blend of hardships, friendship, and discovery. Readers who like a thought-provoking novel with deep character explorations will appreciate this metaphysical fiction novel.

Pages: 173 | ASIN : B08PW3R6SY

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Survival, by Anthony Antonio, is a sweeping tale of secrets, friendships, and prohibited passions. It follows the life of Daniel Roberts as he overcomes the loss of his father, an abusive mother, and poverty. He finds love and happiness even as he continues to fight against the system, the codes of silence, and social degradation. A novel filled with themes of greed, jealousy, vengeance, poverty, violence, romance, and self-identity. Antonio shows what humans have been doing to the planet by focusing on the country through the eyes of one person.

Antonio tackles several tough subjects in this complex and deeply thoughtful novel. By focusing the viewpoint through the eyes of Daniel, the author is able to give readers an in-depth and personal look at the experiences and emotions that Daniel endured. From early life through abuse and tragedy to finding love and the challenges that came with that love, readers will see inside Daniels’s mind and see how the world treats him.

The writing style allows readers to follow along with Daniel’s thought process, drifting between past and present memories. Readers will wake up in the city with Daniel in the first chapter and be introduced to several characters before entering into Daniel’s own psyche. The process of getting to know Daniel through his memories and wondering thoughts gives readers an organic approach to discovering his story, rather than the author just laying out all the information in a linear fashion.

Anthony Antonio gives readers a sweeping story of love and treachery filled with looks into the human mind, their strengths and weakness, and leaves readers with a sense of trepidation. His poetic writing style adds to readers’ experience, helping them feel the emotions that Antonio puts on the page.

Survival is richly detailed and brimming with imagery. This memorable novel will enchant readers of historical and psychological fiction. The characters will remain with readers long after the last page has been read.

Pages: 664 | ASIN : B098DDF5R2

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The Immortal

The Immortal by [Creel, E. G. ,]

The Immortal follows an ordinary forty year old woman, Emma Anderson, who has always put others first. She suddenly finds herself gripped by a midlife crisis and decides to take a break from her technician job. Leaving behind only her two cats, she packs her bags and hops on a plane to French Polynesia. While on vacation, Emma finds her life changing more profoundly than she ever could have imagined. After witnessing a mass murder and fleeing through the jungle, she realizes that she has no choice but to take to the sea with a group of savage Vikings.

The Immortal is a fast-paced fantasy story that I found difficult to put down. Author E.G. Creel captivates her audience from the very first page of the book. Emma is a highly relatable character who is easy to empathize with. She has lived an average life as an x-ray technician who never married or had kids. Her sudden desire to travel and have new experiences comes from the feeling that she has led a lackluster existence. This makes her a character that is easily relatable, and one that readers will easily be able to root for. When she meets Bjorn, the ruler of an ancient clan of Vikings, she finds herself having tumultuous feelings for him, and this emotional-rollercoaster was very entertaining.

As she is whisked away on a journey across the globe to settle an ancient score, Emma realizes that she is capable of much more than she ever thought possible and I really enjoyed how this story slowly evolved her character into being a strong female protagonist. The tension between her and Bjorn is palpable, and the reader is constantly left wondering what is going to happen between them. Their relationship was riveting and one of the main reasons why I kept picking this book up.

This is a relentlessly entertaining fantasy adventure novel with an interesting cast of characters that keeps things fresh and ensures there is never a dull moment. Readers just can’t help but to fall in love with the flamboyant Stacey, a High Priest and quite possibly the most fashionable Viking in history. E.G. Creel’s romance novel tells a tragic and at times heartbreaking tale of justice. The Immortal is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt like they are not living up to their full potential.

Pages: 141 | ASIN: B09HWMP7CH

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Silver Heels

Silver Heels is a sequel to the book Silver Lights by author Michelle Lynn. The protagonist Skylar Lynn is a realtor who also makes a living dancing at Silver Lights, which is often frequented by influential and powerful men. The relationship between the character and the silver heels is similar to the analogy of the silver lights. The silver heels represent the confidence Skylar needs to walk her path, as well, as the silver lights accompanied her with the same intent. However, the dancer’s ambitions go beyond this; she wants to succeed in the movie business. After catching the eye of a billionaire at the club where she dances, she finds herself getting closer and closer to fulfilling her dreams.

This contemporary novel has a slow-burn start drawing the reader into the lives of the eccentric characters. There are a lot of key players that need to be introduced in this compelling story. From real estate agent to exotic dancer, Skylar will do anything in the name of getting her screenplay in the right hands and will put herself into a position to be seen.

Readers will be given drama, sexual content, exotic dancing, and dangers to keep the action flowing. However, the things Skylar craves for herself, romance and fame, are not the only focus. Corruption and its agents, the mafia and powerful billionaires, make this well-crafted book a page-turning experience for the reader. The author gives readers passion and the tension one feels from the high-stakes aura that permeates Wall Street. The mafia’s intrigue and mystery will pull readers in to see how Skylar navigates this new arena.

Silver Heels feels like the start of a bigger story. The action, romance, and drama will appeal to readers that love a narrative driven by a strong female character. This is a captivating and sensual novel that is an excellent choice for those who want a quick and exciting read.

Pages: 166 | ASIN : B085S6MN35

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Worldmaker of Yand – Polaris

Worldmaker of Yand-Polaris, by Andri E. Elia, is the second book in the spellbinding Worldmaker of Yand series. In this book, Yanara builds a new city in the aftermath of war. The story begins with Yanara, Frost, and Mandolen on a new planet after the war. While they recover from their injuries, they begin to make a new life in a place they name Tuncay.

There are so many revelations in this book that will appeal to fans of the series. Yanara’s backstory continues to get deeper and more intriguing as we discover more about her lineage while she is creating a new life for herself. She has a brother who was in love with the Queen, Stardust, and finds out her son can also wormhole. The leader, Wolf, uses another to get to Yanara and her family. On top of all those tantalizing revelations, we also discover that the k’tul leader, although shot in the head with an arrow during the war, had his body preserved in a pod.

Andri Eli’s writing style in this vibrant story has improved since the first book, which allows readers to appreciate the depth and creativity of the world and characters. With a much better pace and flow to the story, I feel like this book is very easy to read, even with its sometimes weighty ideas. The first book in the Worldmaker of Yand series built-up tension slowly and revealed the plot at a methodical pace while using a lot of descriptions along the way to give readers a clear idea of the events taking place. But this entertaining book places readers right in the middle of the action, which makes for a much more intriguing read.

The dialogue between characters is fluid and engaging, allowing readers to connect with the characters. I admire Yanara for her strength and her selflessness, and I really appreciated how well these character traits are drawn-out in the story. This book has an ensemble cast of interesting characters that sometimes make it hard to keep track of who is who but certainly adds to the epic nature of the overall story and shows how many people are involved, but I would have appreciated a little more clarity on who they were and what they wanted.

Worldmaker of Yand-Polaris tells the compelling story of the Worldmakers life after war with the k’tul. I enjoyed seeing Yanara build a new world and how she finally rids herself of the k’tul. This is a fascinating epic fantasy story with plenty of action to keep readers entertained and plenty of romance to keep you emotionally invested in this stimulating story.

Pages: 446 | ASIN : B09MF797VR

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