Category Archives: Four Stars

Through Me to You: A Life Through Poetry, Stories and Songs

Through Me to You: A Life Through Poetry, Stories and Songs by [Wick, Eve]

Through Me to You: A Life Through Poetry, Stories and Songs by Eve Wick is a collection of writings that span the author’s life from age thirteen to the present. A verse of Bible scripture accompanies each poem, story, and song, and the author uses these Bible passages to show that no matter what a person is going through, they can find an answer in God’s word. The purpose of this book is to inspire and encourage others who may be going though a difficult time in their lives, and it focuses on a wide range of emotions, from despair to hope, friendship, and love.

I enjoyed reading the poems, short stories, and songs in this book. I liked the connection between the Bible verses and the author’s own writing, which illustrated that even though the Bible was written thousands of years ago, God’s teachings still have meaning and power in the present, and people can find peace in the written word of God. I especially enjoyed reading the author’s short stories throughout the book, which were a bit longer in length than the poems.

Some of the scriptures seemed much more fitting to the author’s writing than others. When there was not as strong a link between the two, a different scripture could have been chosen instead. And if no more appropriate verse could be found, then I would have preferred not to have a scripture accompany that piece, since it seemed to take away some of the impact from the poems and stories that were much more closely linked to the accompanying scripture.

The verses that accompany the song lyrics seemed particularly fitting, which led me to believe that some of the songs are likely based on those specific Bible passages, giving them the strongest connection between the author’s writing and the words of the Bible.

This is an exceptional piece of work that I heartily enjoyed reading.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: B0794HFFVX

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The White Hand

The White Hand: A Rutherford Manor Novel by [Lavery, Konn, Ewasiuk, Preston]

The White Hand (a Rutherford Manor novel) by Konn Lavery is a dark historical thriller set in 1890 outside of Chicago, Illinois. The Fleshers and the Savidges live at Rutherford Manor, a house filled with outcasts with a dark past. To provide for their family, Alastor Flesher and Spalding Savidge make a deal with the Irish Mob (The White Hand). They work as resurrectionists, obtaining bodies for anatomists. Alastor and Spalding have a unique process to get the dead bodies, by helping death along, which makes their ‘product’ more desirable. Their position is always precarious due to their methods of body-snatching, but things spiral out of control after Alaster is found dead and the residents of Rutherford Manor suspect he was murdered. Was he killed by The White Hand? Or did someone seek revenge against Alastor for his dark deeds?

I liked the author’s writing style, and the story was filled with intrigue that kept my interest. Even as I was reading about the dark actions of the main characters, I wanted to know what happened to them next. But I had trouble connecting to the characters because the book did not show the struggles the Fleshers and Savidges went through that led them to such desperate acts. Their actions didn’t feel justified. I wanted to know why they didn’t have any other option but to kill, and that compelling motivation was missing.

I liked that several chapters in the book started with philosophical inner narratives that gave additional insight into the minds of the characters. The book was told from the Fleshers and Spalding’s point of view, but they acted more as villains in the story than someone I wanted to root for. While plotting murder, Alastor and his son, Nox, questioned why God let bad things happen to their family. It was a stark juxtaposition seeing them willfully and remorselessly causing bad things to happen to others, yet believing that they themselves were not deserving of the bad things that happened to them.

The demon aspect at the end of the story was surprising and supported the otherwise mild supernatural elements in other parts of the story.

The author is a graphic artist, and I enjoyed the art that was sprinkled throughout the book. The black and white illustrations were able to capture the feel of the novel and gave the overall story some depth. I liked having the visual of what the characters looked like and an image of the scroll that Nox found in his father’s study.

Although the ending of the book left me with as many questions as answers because the story of Spalding and the Fleshers is not finished, I would love to read the next book in the series to learn more. Horror, history, mystery, intrigue… the list goes on. The White Hand is an intriguing page turner.

Pages: 207 | ASIN: B07RGH1KV1

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Heart of a Warrior Angel: From Darkness to Light

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Articulate and full of spiritualism, Heart of a Warrior Angel by Lali A. Love is a journey not only in the world but within oneself. Our protagonist, Lilac, reflects on her life’s path as she reaches her twilight years. She recalls her journey through life as she crosses literal and metaphorical oceans to become the person she is in the moment. We learn her life story, her heartache, and her triumphs. We celebrate and grieve with her as this book lays bare the raw emotions that entangle themselves with the journey of life.

Heart of a Warrior Angel drips with dramatic tension, and excellent descriptions of the living situation Lilac regales us with is moving and heart rendering. It is a metaphysical thriller, with a touch of supernatural fantasy, following one woman’s journey through the hell on earth she was forced to live as she comes to terms with her ascension onto a spiritual plane deserving of her essence.

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Experiment X: Sacrifice

Experiment X: Sacrifice by [Haase, Nikki]

Let conspiracy enthusiast and sci-fi fans rejoice for there is a new series of books launched that engages the reader in an action filled thriller; rich in violence, plot twists, the supernatural and human connections.

Experiment X – Sacrifice is told from the first person narrative of Karen; a regular woman with a regular job with secret abilities she didn’t know about. What starts out as a story about a waitress with a terrible boyfriend and superficial friends spirals into an intricate voyage of family secrets, genetic manipulation and a high death toll.

The heroine’s catalyst arrives early on in the form of Jack, which is a man she has had violent dreams about. Jack makes Karen aware of her part in a hidden and awful government experiment. The breakneck pace of this novel does not let up and the plot is very interesting as are the characters; but I felt that they were underdeveloped and sometimes the plot overwhelmed the narrative. Experiment X still draws the reader into its deeply rooted story lines and paints a vivid picture.

The author is also successful at striking a good balance of action and world building, such as when some of the survivors of the experiment try pizza for the first time. I wanted more depth to Karen’s transformation because I liked her and her relationship with her fellow mutants enriches the story. I also wanted to feel more of the mental and emotional cost of such atrocities because what little is presented is very well executed.

Experiment X sets up some seriously interesting story lines for the heroes to be expanded on in the continuation of the story; such as how the mutation develops differently in each person and family loyalty. There are many layers to this narrative, exploring those while keeping the action oriented style of the book elevates this series. Be ready for betrayal, plot twists, a high body count and a fair amount of emotional turmoil.

Pages: 303 | ASIN: B014880TIW

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Imprint Legacy

Imprint Legacy by [Keys, Dorian]

Imprint Legacy by Dorian Keys is a science fiction short story. Detective Robert Miers and his partner Steven Enry are part of New City’s Interstate Operations Unit, working with the FBI to solve unusual cases. While investigating a missing persons case, a tip leads Robert and Steven to a house in Ohio. But nothing there is as they expected. Ten days later, Robert is missing chunks of his memories and his actions are under investigation by the New City Police Department because Steven disappeared that night. Will Robert be able to find his missing partner? And even if he does, will anything ever be the same for him again once he learns that reality is far different from what he’s always believed?

This book has an intriguing premise with a unique world parallel to reality, and I enjoyed reading this story. The ten day time jump between Chapter One and Chapter Two left me a bit confused, but I knew exactly how Robert was feeling because he had no idea what was going on either. The entire story was told from his point of view, so I only knew what he knew, which allowed me to feel his emotions as he tried to figure out what had happened to him during the gap in his memories.

I liked the addition of ‘aliens’ who were actually humans. There were many elements of this world that were unique from other science fiction stories I’ve read. A lot happens in the story given the short length, and I would have liked the book to be a bit longer because I wanted to know more. Some things could have been explained or described in more detail, like the technology used by the Caretakers and the imprinting of Caretakers. And I felt that the story ended a bit abruptly. I wanted to see Robert reunite with his family, and I was left to wonder if he would accept his fate as a Caretaker or continue to try to fight against it.

But all this is to say that this was a fantastic story that I wanted more of. This really could have been a longer novel because Dorian Keys has done a fantastic job of setting compelling characters along a provocative plot against an intriguing background.

Pages: 76 | ASIN: B07NSNMSGF

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Environmental Trap

Al Wynn is determined to provide a good life for his family. However, he finds himself in situations that threaten that resolve. He’s only human and makes bad decisions like everyone else, but Al has qualities that help him every time. He’s determined, nothing can keep him down and he endeavors to be a better person. But can Al survive the numerous beat downs life has handed him? Will Nella come back home? What will become of his contracting gig?

Al Wynn tells a tale of a young man who overcomes all sorts of odds. The story flows seamlessly and takes the reader through every wave. The writer pulls the reader in with simple language and a relatable story of a young-mans life as a minority. This book provides an accurate account of what it is to be black in America. However, there is always an underlying tone of hope through redemption. That one does not have to follow down the wrong path. The trick is to get up stronger and wiser every time life beats you down.

Sometimes, you have to take what you want. What I’m saying young man is sometimes you have to make things happen, that you want to happen in life.

This is a piece of advice given to Al when he gets out of jail and sums up Al’s life from that point on. He makes it through life by using his head and simply taking whatever job he wants. His family is cared for because Al has kept these words with him throughout. This is great advice and is applicable in so many areas of life. It is also one of the many things the reader will learn from this book. The writer is over 70 years old and his wisdom shines through. It is not just the story of Al, it is a bundle of simple maxims to live by.

The book, while well written and structured well, could use some trimming. I thought that there was some unnecessary dialogue which was confusing. However, it is an enjoyable and enlightening read. The grammar and syntax are excellent and tone is just right for this book.

An environmental trap is the perception that a future can be determined by the surroundings in which one resides. This book is a sort of guide to getting out of that trap. The Environmental Trap is a tale of the trials of human life. Most of the things that happen to Al can happen to anyone. The lessons in the book can be applicable to anyone regardless of race.

Pages: 536 | ISBN-10: 1466938595

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Max Happiness

MAX HAPPINESS

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects thoughts, emotions and even behavior. It’s severity is achieved gradually with symptoms that include hallucinations, altered reality and even disorganized thinking among others. Often when it is believed that the patient will be a danger to his or herself and others, they are institutionalized so the condition can be stabilized.

Max Happiness, written in first person narrative, is a series of thoughts as they run through the character’s mind. This character is schizophrenic and therefore presents many different ideas in quick succession. This presentation of thought provides insight into how people with this condition think and feel if they are misunderstood. As a person looking in from the outside, one would be compelled to quickly dispel any fantasies or notions that do not conform to reality. However, from this text it is clear that the approach used to do this matters quite a bit. The person in this book talks about how his ‘abilities’ albeit imagined have had him committed.

This book by Ali Ismail is enlightening, but not in an informational booklet kind of way. It is enlightening in that it gives the reader first hand experience of a schizophrenic’s train of thought. This is meant as an advocacy exercise for people with this condition. To raise awareness and shine a light on their plight. They really do believe the things they utter so there is need for some sensitivity when interacting with them. From the way the thoughts are structured, it is clear that this character is an otherwise sober individual.

The author has done well to introduce the character first before introducing the condition they suffer from. I think this gives the reader time to endear themselves to the character before they can start to sympathize. The author has also done a good job of making the prose so confusing and discombobulating that one feels like they are reading an anagram. The spontaneity of speech and thought is quite complicated. This provides a truly accurate picture of the patient’s thought process.

This book is a good effort towards advocacy for schizophrenia. However, it does require a bit of an edit. For example, use the right ‘there/their’ and so on. For such a short book, these little mistakes really do stand out.

Otherwise, this is worth taking the twenty minutes or so that you would need to read the contents. It is also worth the one minute it will take to recommend it to someone. It would be nice to expand it a little more to provide a more wholesome picture of the life of the character. This is just one day in the life.

Pages: 6 | ASIN: B07N2RHTW5

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Doves & Crows

Doves & Crows by [Heathcote, MJC]

MJC Heathcote delivers a story that combines mystery and family history in a chilling way that has you wondering about the dark forces embedded within a seemingly average object. Although Doves and Crows starts slowly, it quickly ramps up and once it captured my attention it rarely let it go. Heathcote does a fantastic job at slowly building up the mystery and drama, drawing you in and making the resolution all the more satisfying. There are moments when the story slows, but the unique writing style and the clear storytelling keeps this book engaging throughout.

Doves and Crows is an intriguing supernatural horror story that reads more like a crime thriller when people start to meet their untimely death, and more like Paranormal Activity when strange things start happening. The the mystery surrounding the necklace, although intriguing, left me wanting more details. Richard is an easy character to follow and is easy to empathize with, but I would have liked more background on his character.

With any mystery novel that relies on subtlety it’s easy to be too subtle and lose the reader along the way, but Heathcote’s writing is exceptionally fluid and effortlessly delivers some odd twists and dramatic scenes in dark an eerie settings. What I really liked about this book was how it combines many different genres to create a thought provoking story about paranormal forces wreaking havoc on one boys life and his ultimate struggle to rid himself of the dark forces his grandparents unknowingly brought into his life.

Pages: 434 | ASIN: B07L5RS1SD

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FRANK PAÍS

José Álvarez (Cuba, 1940) nos presenta en FRANK PAÍS una extensa biografía del “revolucionario” cubano del mismo nombre. Hace un repaso de su corta vida (1934-1957) y de la importancia que sus actos tuvieron en la Revolución Cubana. Cómo después de su muerte el pueblo cubano sigue recordándolo.

Los primeros datos los obtenemos de mano del único hermano País que sigue vivo, Agustín País, quien ha residido en los EEUU desde la muerte de sus hermanos. En esta entrevista personal José Álvarez y Agustín País, nos hacen una introducción de los fechas más importantes en la vida de Frank. Relatan como la muerte de su padre les afectó y alaban la figura de su madre. Le sirve al lector para situarse en aquella época y descubrir los incios de Frank en la vida política.

A partir de aquí, José Álvarez se centra en la relevancia que tuvo Frank País en la Revolución Cubana. Nos adentra en su ideología y nos explica cómo se va “creando”, iniciando, ese sentimiento en el pueblo Cubano. Dicha Revolución (1953-1959) provocó la caída del régimen de Batista y la llegada al poder del líder del Ejército Guerrillero, Fidel Castro, con todo lo que eso supuso a nivel nacional e internacional. No quita importancia a todos aquellos que rodearon a Frank en este gran cambio.

Después de exponer todos los datos relevantes sobre la vida de Frank País: infancia, educación, familia, amigos… y la importancia que éste tuvo en este gran cambio histórico, José Álvarez incluye en el Libro II los escritos selectos de Frank País y sus cartas a Fidel Castro, documentos oficiales… Todo este tipo de escritos le sirven al lector para comprobar de primera mano la relación entre ambos, y porque después de su muerte, hace tantos años, la figura de Frank País sigue viva.

En el Libro III, José Álvarez ofrece una visión más intimista de Frank País. Incluye sus escritos más personales, sus poesías. Vemos el lado más personal y a lo mejor menos político del protagonista,  a pesar de sus ideas por liberar al pueblo cubano.

Considero que es un libro recomendable para todos aquellos que estén interesados en conocer más en profundidad la importancia de Frank País en el proceso de cambio cubano. Ofrece esta información desde todos los puntos de vista posibles, de un modo neutral y utilizando todas las fuentes biográficas que están al alcance de su mano, destacando principalmente la información proporcionada por Agustín País.

Pages: 622 | ISBN: 1090437552

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Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

The magical forests of Germania beckon! When five-year-old Stan is invited to a party by a talking Fern, he eagerly enters a lush, verdant world of discovery. When Stan falls ill, his forest friends find a cure. When he gets lost, they guide him home. The forest’s generosity truly knows no bounds.

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania reveals the protective and healing powers of the forest and its vegetation. Author Gloria Gonsalves cleverly teaches children the names and characteristics of plants, and their ability to heal or harm. Her enchanting fable reveals the countless ways the Earth protects and provides. The true magic of this book is in the illustrations that were created by children. Each drawing is engaging and gives the story an added layer of meaning through the imaginations of young artists. It is a heart-warming story that speaks to the giving nature of the Earth.

Pages: 61 | ASIN: B07926X9S4

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