Category Archives: Four Stars

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal

Ain't Nothin' Personal (An Emmett Hardy Mystery Book 3) by [Chris Kelsey]

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal by Chris Kelsey is the third book of a trilogy. It takes place in Oklahoma in the 1960’s with a, sometimes hard to love, police chief name Emmet Hardy. While Hardy was taking some mandatory time off of work when he was assigned to an inmate who wanted to provide the details of an unsolved murder from several decades earlier. Hardy struggles throughout the book, whether it is with the locals of the town or his own internal conflicts. Throughout this murky crime thriller author Chris Kelsey is able to make the character relatable and fun to follow.

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is a riveting page turner that made it hard for me to find a good spot to put the book down. One thing I really enjoyed about this mystery novel is the quick but thorough character development. We are easily able to picture the characters with a quick setup before moving along into the heart of the story. This help keeps the story moving while ensuring the characters are intriguing nonetheless.

This is book three in the enthralling Emmett Hardy Mystery series and I would recommend reading the firs two books in the trilogy before reading this one. I enjoyed this immersive story, but I felt that the end of the book was slightly rushed, or maybe I was just left with an unquenchable thirst for the story to keep going. In either case I hope this story continues with more books.

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal has a persistent air of intrigue throughout the entire story, bordering on the noir genre I think, but never losing focus on the mystery driving this story. Hardy always has alternative agendas making it so a reader is not bored by just reading about one or two events that are happening. This is an engrossing whodunit novel that will certainly satisfy crime fiction fans looking for a well developed mystery.

Pages: 277 | ASIN: B08YLNJQM6

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Birds, Who Are They?

Birds, Who Are They?: A First Look (Callender Nature)

Birds, Who Are They – A First Look by David Campbell Callender is a beautifully crafted audiobook that offers delightful insights into birds and their behavior. Before getting in touch with this book I had not imagined birds could be so fascinating.

First, we need to talk about the narration by Grace Winpenny. Her beautiful voice and interpretation take us into the journey of the book with much amazement and a curious attitude. Then there is the opening sequence, on which we learn to look at birds through new eyes. As the narrator explains their early childhood fascination with winged creatures, I felt as if I was seeing birds for the first time. The first passage is beautiful. And though what comes after is quite different, it is still amazing nonetheless. The book proceeds with interesting facts about birds, frequently comparing them to humans in their behavior. It is a curious association that makes us wonder how different could we really be from other species.

This is a short book so it is over when you least expect it. However, at its end, the sensation is that you have learned a lot in a short period of time and developed a whole new perspective and appreciation for something found in our daily lives. This book is a must for anyone who likes nature or is just curious about things in general.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B09D8PLCCD

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KARRIN: Warrior Child

KARRIN: Warrior Child: A Paranormal / Sci-Fi Adventure (Excalibur Saga Book 3) by [Sahara Foley]

Sahara Foley’s Karrin Warrior Child is an enchanting urban fantasy novel. It follows the life of Karrin, a young girl who was abandoned at a home for unwanted children. With little memory of her real family and where she is from, she still maintains her dignity and courage. At the home, she meets a terrible matron, guards, and girls. But despite the hardships of living in the home, she experiences kindness from the facility cook, aptly named “Cook”. Not only does Cook allow her to help in the kitchen, but she also ensures that she always has something to eat and a comfortable place to sleep. Over time, a beautiful relationship develops between them, climaxing in a series of sacrificial decisions. Eventually, we discover that Karrin is not your ordinary child. In fact, she is so extraordinary that she is being hunted down by those who see her as a threat.

As you read from page to page, it is hard not to root for Karrin and even learn to care for her because she’s captivating but also feels authentic. If there is one thing the author did well, it is maintaining the fast pace of the narrative. From the first to the last chapter, she captures our imagination with riveting prose and dialogue. This makes it easy to get a clear picture of what is happening at all times. Moreover, the author is adept at covering the perceptions of different characters throughout the narrative.

This is the first book in the epic Excalibur Saga series, but I think it can still be read as a stand only story. With an fascinating protagonist and a storyline infused with intrigue, science fiction fans will heartily enjoy this action-packed adventure novel. KARRIN: Warrior Child is a thrilling must read that will have you guessing to the very last page.

Pages: 189 | ASIN: B07JFNML14

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Zero

Zero by [Al Schnupp]

Al Schnupp’s writing is witty, sharp, and distinct. The satire and humor organically embedded in this story makes it a stand out book of 2021 for me. You cannot go a page without finding the text to be entertaining or amusing.

We follow the story of Zero, a man who is not so wise but interesting to follow regardless. Zero has a wife, Maxine. His wife is sly, sometimes two-faced, and to some extent unethical. Maxine has a huge influence on Zero. She can convince her husband to partake in something that he was initially not confident about. Maxine may seem horrible to some, but there are parts of her character that I thought to be brave. She is unstoppable and a go-getter once she sets her mind to something. Horace is another major character that I found to be intriguing. Horace is a close associate of Zero and his wife, and they involve him in their ambitions. Zero is convinced by his wife to go for a political seat. Politics is not easy even for the wealthiest, most powerful, and experienced. Zero wants to vie for Icon of Groad, a top seat in his country. With the help of his wife, Zero strategizes and gets Horace, his campaign manager to help in his campaign spree. I enjoyed following this trio because of their diverse characters and how each complemented the other. Running a successful campaign is not a one-man show and Zero needed a support system to see his plan succeed.

The development of the plot and building of characters makes you appreciate how great of a writer Al Schnupp is. The author understands his readers and uses familiar examples when narrating the various occurrences and events. The style of narration is engaging and appealing to readers that enjoy satire. When reading this book, you realize how society is flawed to a certain degree as the author highlights issues that we face in contemporary society. The political theme in the book was significant and relevant especially for readers that are invested in policymaking and both local and international politics. Al Schnupp’s satire is top tier. I enjoyed how the author talks of the status quo. He is witty and uses distinct words and phrases when addressing societal issues through his characters and the storyline. I could not help but think of the many Zero’s we have in real life, as this character had a shady background, and yet he had ambitions to lead. Inspector Oodles was a favorite character. I liked the traits he was given and the process he took while investigating Zero’s father’s death. The detective work was another intriguing aspect of this story that I enjoyed following.

Zero is one of the funnest books I’ve read this year. I enjoyed the satirical storytelling, sharp by subtle wit, and the humorous detective work. If you’re looking for a light and fun story, look no further than Al Schnupp’s engaging political comedy.

Pages: 108 | ASIN: B093SXG461

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College, Covid, and Questions

College, Covid, and Questions: Tips and Advice for Incoming Freshmen, Undergraduates, Transfer Students, and Parents by [Suzy Beamer Bohnert]

Suzy Beamer Bohnert has freshmen, continuing students and parents covered. In her book, the author talks about college routines, the basics, what every student and parent needs to know and general life in college. This book is timely as the author also talks about the coronavirus pandemic, how it has affected learning institutions and the economy. I enjoyed reading about the author when she talked about the status quo, as she paints the reality in a clear manner and one can get to fully comprehend where she is coming from. College, Covid, and Questions is an informative book that will not only help you choose the right collegiate path, but also help you navigate college life once you are there.

What I loved most about Suzy Bohnert’s writing is how she makes the reader part of her story. Suzy Bohnert is engaging and makes the reader feel like they belong. I appreciate the tonal variation when the author is writing about content to ensure it is relevant to parents and guardians versus the choice of words she uses when addressing students and young readers. Suzy Bohnert is easy to understand and fun to read. Her diction is excellent and the text in the book is clear from the start. This book is like a student manual that can help students navigate new settings and new communities. I have a child currently preparing for college so this book was very relevant to me. I wanted to know what my child could expect in the modern landscape of colleges. There was plenty of highlighting done on my part by the end of the book, as I found so much of this book enlightening and informative.

Starting college is tough, it was tough in my day, I can’t even imagine adding the stress of COVID on top if it all. This is why Suzy Beamer Bohnert’s book is critical to student success. Going to college can be overwhelming, but College, Covid, and Questions brings clarity and order to something that can be distressingly complex. Do yourself a favor, prepare yourself, and grab a copy of this pragmatic and insightful book.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B08R91DVL8

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The Classy Squad

The Classy Squad: The Housekeepers Nemesis is a novel written by Australian based author Rosemary K. Tompkins. It is a story about finding love, with some twists and turns along the way. The story revolves around three main characters: Floyd a widower who deeply misses his wife. A travelling salesperson. Irene Munster, a neighbor that is trying desperately to gain Floyd’s romantic attention – although it is soon revealed she has a motive that is more than just romance. The final pivotal character is Mabel Tuttle, Floyd’s lovely new housekeeper. Also central to this story is a collection of dolls and stuffed animals. These toys were deeply treasured by Betty, Floyd’s late wife. The dolls each have their own name and personality, however they are collectively known as The Classy Squad. There are also a few supporting characters that interact with the main characters, giving them depth and authenticity. The main characters personalities develop through their dialogue between each other and their inner monologues. Personalities also emerge through the actions of the characters, both the humans and toys!

The Classy Squad: The Housekeepers Nemesis has an easy-to-follow structure. The novel is organized into chapters and each chapter is from a different character’s point of view. The story follows a chronological order, and the organization of the story makes it very clear who is telling the story in each chapter. The setting in the story is essentially Floyd’s house, garden and immediate neighborhood. Each setting is described in great detail, from the Jasmine in Floyd’s Garden to the pink and green cushions sitting atop one of his spare beds. Descriptions of antique dinners sets, teapots and napkins all aid to draw the reader into the story and making it come alive. Tompkins appeals not only to the reader’s visual senses, but also to the sense of smell, describing the heavenly scents of garden flowers and homecooked meals.

The Classy Squad: The Housekeepers Nemesis is an interesting story with interesting characters and a plot with just enough mystery and intrigue to set this story apart from other romance stories.

Pages: 346 | ISBN: 1456637991

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Prayers and Po-Boys

A few days to Christmas, Larry Singleton receives news that would change his life forever: he has been diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer). Suddenly, Singleton realizes that he probably doesn’t have as much time as he thinks. The father and husband braces himself for a bumpy ride of treatment and picks up vital life lessons along the way. As he weathers the storm of chemotherapy, worry, and life generally, all he can do is pray and eat.

Prayers and Po-Boys is an inspirational account of Larry Singleton’s true topsy-turvy journey from when he was diagnosed with cancer through chemotherapy till he went into remission.

With soothing honesty, Singleton relates his thoughts, fears, struggles, and victories as he battled cancer. His approach suggests he is humble enough to accept that sometimes, the best help you can offer is to simply share your story.

Singleton’s crisp, concise, and immersive writing style makes his ideas stick in the readers head long after they have put the book down. Also, his tone is warm and reassuring, a sign that he is not just out to write a book but to genuinely reach into people’s hearts.

Prayers and Po-Boys is short but insightful. Its lessons range from Singleton’s epiphanies on living with cancer to revelations that can help anyone better understand and support affected loved ones. This is a fantastic book made even more so by the relevance of its themes.

Pages: 88 | ISBN: 1643074377

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Dio in the Dark

Dio in the Dark by [Rizwan Asad]

In this modern take on classic Greek mythology, Rizwan Asad creates a world poisoned by darkness in this short novella, Dio in the Dark. Dionysus, “Dio,” is over thousands of years old, and yet, in the twentieth century, he has chosen to play the role of a young adult. Sadly, over the years, he has become moody and depressed; constantly at odds with his father, Zeus. Night after night he explores the city of Toronto going from one party to the next in a haze of alcohol-induced numbness and crowded by sweaty, dancing bodies. One night, after partying and drinking, Dio spots a woman tied to a bridge. He rescues the woman fated to be sacrificed to the darkness only to discover that without her sacrifice the world would be destroyed. With his father missing, it is up to Dio to save the world from an unknown entity.

The author’s passion and creativity are shown through his vivid, descriptive writing. Asad creates an air of humanity around the gods, displaying the worse and the best parts of people. For some minor characters, Asad stays true to their original depiction in Greek mythologies and does it well. Asad changed some of the stories and information from the original mythologies to conform to his story making this an intriguing twist. For example, Semele, the princess of Thebes was not tricked by Nyx (Goddess of the Night) but Hera (Queen of the Gods) when Hera discovered Zeus’ infidelity. Though, true to the mythology, after Zeus killed Semele, he sowed Dionysus into his thigh and gave birth to him. In Dio in the Dark, Hades is portrayed as one of many antagonists. His role in the story was a little confusing. It is hard to tell if it is Hades who kidnaps Zeus for the sake of a bargain he made with Apollo, or if it was Nyx, to prevent him from stopping the end of the world.

The structure of the story is similar to a murder mystery, revealing pieces of the story bit by bit making the reader want to read more. Asad has creatively recreated these stories and the reader can tell a lot of hard work and love was put into this novella. There’s no definitive antagonist and protagonist, though Dionysus is a strong contender for the role of protagonist. I would’ve liked for the story to have been longer so I could’ve learned more about the characters.

Dio in the Dark is a great short story that takes the reader on a mythical adventure.

Pages: 170 | ASIN: B09FFR4M6D

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