Category Archives: Four Stars

Young Offender

Young Offender by [Maisey, Michael]

Michael makes his entrance to the world in an uneventful fashion, but little does he know that life is about to deal him a series of devastating blows. Forced to go on the run with his mother in an attempt to get away from his abusive father, young Michael learns next to nothing about what it means to be nurtured and protected by loved ones. His mother’s addiction to alcohol tears her away from him and he soon finds himself looking for care, empathy and a sense of belonging in all the wrong places. The arms of crime and addiction become his ”safe place.” But how does his story end? Does he find his way to redemption or do his relentless demons prove too difficult to be vanquished?

Young Offender by Michael Maisey smashes the stereotype of memoirs being unimaginative. I was helplessly hooked by the surreal nature of the writer’s escapades (I feel tempted to share a few but I’ll let you find out for yourself). I turned each page, curious to see where his self-sabotaging adventures would lead him to next.

The majority of the occurrences took place in London in the 1990s and 2000s. Maisey was careful to include relevant details about places where he grew up or called home, but he was clearly (and thankfully) more interested in telling his story than in describing his environment in detail. Altogether, we can get a decent feel of the state of the locations where he spent some time.

I found Maisey’s portrayal of the main character highly intriguing. ”But what could be so special about telling a story about one’s self?” you might wonder. Well, Maisey’s secret ingredients were brutal honesty and inspiring courage. He gave us unfettered access even to the darkest and most convoluted workings of his mind as he exchanged punches with life. He held nothing back. Going by the way he related some unpleasant memories, it was clear that unearthing them for documentation was an incredibly difficult process. He had to do it to invite readers into his story and make them feel the weight of the pain, guilt and struggles of an addict.

It’s worth mentioning that a few bloopers appeared in the book though. For example, on numerous occasions, names of certain characters were erroneously replaced by new ones, so while reading, you need to pay close attention so you don’t get confused due to those errors.

My pick of the positives of the book is the vividness of the thematic pictures the writer paints. He shows us the impacts of a dysfunctional family on the children, the significance of proper role models, and my personal favourite: the nature of the path to serious change. Each of his experiences, mistakes and victories hold invaluable lessons for the keen mind. This is no ordinary story.

If you are a fan of zero nonsense, riveting and emotional real-life stories, Young Offender is one book you should read. Who knows, you might even shed a tear or two, like I did.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B07MTPSX1M

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I Know When You’re Going To Die

I Know When You're Going To Die by [Bowler, Michael J.]

I Know When You’re Going to Die by Michael J. Bowler is a Young Adult fiction novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Leonardo Cantrell. While working at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, Leo meets a man who passes on a gift–or a curse–the ability to look into a person’s eyes and see their Death. He knows when it will occur, but the details of how it will happen are hazy. When Leo sees his friend, J.C.’s murder, he can’t stand by and do nothing. Can Leo and J.C. discover the killer’s identity and prevent J.C.’s death before it’s too late?

I Know When You’re Going to Die was a book I enjoyed reading because of the author’s unique writing style couple with an intriguing plot. The book raises many interesting questions and left me with many interesting fantasies in my own head; can you change the future if you know what’s going to happen? And even if you can change things, should you? What are the consequences of that decision?

I liked the mystery driving this story forward and I had a fun time trying to put the clues together in order to guess who wanted to kill J.C. The story is replete with red herrings and misdirection that left me spinning, I couldn’t figure out how all the pieces fit together until everything was revealed at the end of the book; which was fantastic. The inclusion of the old house with the secret passages was a fun element in the story.

I liked reading about the juxtaposition between Leo, J.C., and Laura’s typical teenage life, going to classes and dealing with bullies at school, and the life-and-death matter of the trio trying to figure out how they’re going to prevent J.C.’s murder.

Although I thought the characters were well developed, and interesting, I had a bit of an issue with some of the reasoning behind the characters’ actions. At times, it didn’t seem logical. For example, why would Leo automatically assume the killer was not after him when he had never looked into his own eyes in the mirror to see his own death?

But this is a mild issue born out of my fascination with the novel. I Know When You’re Going to Die is an enchanting novel that had me hooked right until the end.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B07Z48BHH4

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The Mission to End Slavery

The Mission to End Slavery by [Akinmolasire, Denis Olasehinde]

The Mission to End Slavery by Denis Olasehinde Akinmolasire is a book that asks an important question. What if slavery never existed? How would it affect our world? Femi Adebayo has fought long and hard over the idea that black people’s lives are more challenging than anyone else. When he crosses paths with Mr. Diggity, who makes an impossible offer to him. Femi is taken back in time to a time when slavery existed. He is forced to watch the brutality of slavery and it’s toll on humanity. Believing he can stop it, Femi set out on a mission to end slavery.

Denis Olasehinde Akinmolasire has created a bold story centered around a thought-provoking question that is alluring yet out of reach. In this novel Akinmolasire is able to pose many moral questions using historic context, along with the idea that no matter what has happened, we can not change it. History is important. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, it brings us together through a shared experience. I felt like this novel invites the reader to take part in controversial topics and see it from a new perspective.

I liked Femi’s character arc, although he didn’t stand out in the beginning of the story, overtime his character began to grow on me. He is living in the modern world and claims that racism still exists. As I was reading all his rants at the beginning of the novel, and we get to understand how he feel about the way he was treated, I kept telling mentally him, ‘It was a part of history!’ And at this moment I realized how engaged I was with this novel.

The Mission to End Slavery is a well-written and compelling work of fiction. This could be considered science fiction due to the time travel elements, but I think of this book as more of a historical and philosophical work of fiction that presents provocative questions and explores unknowable answers. I enjoyed the detailed and well researched historical events that supplemented the story. The novel was slow to start but I was glued to the page when Femi went back in time and was face to face with the Yoruba tribe.

I enjoyed reading The Mission to End Slavery as the emotions were palpable and the characters were believable. It was an eyeopening read that left me with many questions to reflect on.

Pages: 318 |ASIN: B0825H8JV6

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The Third

THE THIRD by [SINGH, AMAR B.]

Aryan is a prodigy–there is no one around him who can deny it. From the age of four, he can out think, out reason, and outwit any adult in his midst. He is introspective and analyzes the most minute details. He is a wonder among wonders and precious to his beloved and adoring family. As the years pass, Aryan advances not just in his ability to theorize, but in his position compared to those around him. Unlike so many people, Aryan is more than willing to sit back and contemplate his own undoing and the cost for himself and others. This is a trait that never leaves Aryan for the remainder of his life.

The Third, by Amar Singh, is the fictional story of Aryan, a unique and stunning mind. Fascinating from the beginning of the chronological telling of his life, this account leaves nothing to the imagination. Author, Amar Singh, takes care to develop a gentle and engaging character he deftly manages to shape and mold as the pages pass by. It is easy to become swept into Aryan’s trials and tribulations and to see quite clearly and painfully through his young eyes.

Throughout The Third, Singh includes simple but moving poetry penned by his main character. This beautiful verse comes to readers in the form of diary entries. Singh has created a wonderful amalgamation of narrative meshed with increasingly insightful verse. Dispersed throughout the book, the diary entries help drive home the point that Aryan remains, for his entire life, a truly brilliant and amazingly creative young man.

Taking nothing away from the skillful writing by Singh, I do have some issues with the organization of thought. At times, I struggled with following parts of Aryan’s story. Flashbacks and references to past events can, at times, interfere slightly with the cohesiveness of the writing.

One of the most striking takeaways from The Third is the ongoing explanation of the caste system. Singh’s writing style effectively describes the complicated system in a way readers will appreciate. Though fraught with sadness and hardship, the existence of the system further molds Aryan and adds yet another layer of meaning to his exceptional life.

Though a fictional story, The Third reads like a biography and gives readers a unique perspective through the eyes of Aryan’s friend. A brilliantly penned account of the life of a prodigy and tortured soul, this book is sure to interest anyone seeking a quick read containing elements of cultural diversity, drama, and adversity. I would love to see more from Singh and more from the life of Aryan and his beloved–that is a touching story Singh could easily build upon and provide eager readers and fans of his amazing character, Aryan.

Pages: 140 | ASIN: B082S3DQZP

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The Blue Chameleon

The Blue Chameleon: The Life Story of a Supercop by [Cinquanta, Daril]

Retired Detective Daril Cinquata gave decades to the Denver PD. He earned commendations, awards, and medals throughout his career. He meted out justice by arresting thousands of felons. He was a hard-working cop who played on the edge of legality to ensure that justice has been served. Even the best TV cops never play by the rules. His adherence to the law and commitment to the service for all was admirable and used as an example. However, not everyone liked his brand of justice. Many people would have liked to see him fail. This only worked to increase his thirst for justice.

The author plunges the reader into a fast-paced world of police work and the politics that lace the police force. You will get a first-hand account of actual events during Detective Cinquata’s service. You will get an insider’s look. This book is like being cast deep into an intense episode of NCIS where it is all action and tough-talking detectives. The narration is so vivid with clear descriptions and masterful settings that the reader will take a virtual walk through the precincts and have a bird’s eye view of crime scenes throughout the book. From the tone of the book and spirit that lurks within the pages, you can feel the passion that one man had for his work. You cannot help but admire his bravery. At the end of this book, not only will you greatly appreciate Detective Daril Cinquata but also have a newfound respect for any man in blue.

The way this story is told, with all the rough cuts and the gruff way only a cop can speak, you will feel like the author is narrating the story in person. He has done nothing to mask the true cop in him. There is a certain honesty in this book that is simply unmistakable. The story of this man’s life and the events throughout his career are told with absolute frankness and transparency. The events are corroborated by local news stories. So honest that he does not hide his imperfections either. He regales the reader with an embarrassing account of being caught pants down (or at least open). The author is not afraid to show his blemishes. He is not afraid to admit that he was scared at times, to reveal his vulnerabilities. This adds a layer of excitement and reality to this book. It lets the reader connect with the author and the story in a special way.

Rarely do we get to see an unairbrushed version of police work. The Blue Chameleon is simply a gem. Kudos for his enthusiasm and commitment to the job. Utmost gratitude for allowing an inside look into a decorated detective’s service and life in the force. The Blue Chameleon is definitely worth a read.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B075BP3XXN

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Safari

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Safari: Poetry by Angela Khristin Brown is a collection of more than a dozen poems that focus on both the historic and modern struggles of Black people–from slavery to Civil Rights and the terrible circumstances that Black communities continue to face today.

I liked the poems that included historical facts. My favorite poem was the one titled Black Power that recalled a number of milestones in the Civil Rights movement. There were a few names mentioned that I was not familiar with, and I was interested to research further to learn more beyond what was relayed in the poems.

I enjoyed reading the poems in the book that had inspiring and encouraging messages about persevering against adversity and having pride in oneself (including A Rose and Brown Skin Girls). Other poems took a much harder view of the subject matter, relating how far the situation still falls short of an ideal world.

The author used a variety of different styles in the poems. Many of the poems included slang or texting abbreviations which made them more relateable to a younger audience. However, it might be confusing for some readers to fully grasp the author’s meaning. And there were issues with typos in several of the poems. I really enjoyed this thought-provoking collection and recommend it for readers who enjoy poetry with a powerful meaning.

Planet of Gods

Planet of Gods (Enigma Book 1) by [Crane, David]

Planet of Gods by David Crane is an exhilarating and intelligent sci-fi adventure set in the depths of space. The protagonist is a man called Peter Blackwood who is on the verge of retirement in the year 3500 AD. He’s looking forward to a relaxing and joyful life away from the stress that marked his earlier years. But those hopes are dashed when he’s suddenly captured and sent to an alien planet via a hyperspace tunnel. The new planet has a social divide and is filled with unrest. Through strange circumstances, Peter finds himself in the middle of all this turmoil. Using his military skills and expertise along with a diverse range of supporting characters, Peter navigates and revolutionizes this strange new world.

What impressed me the most about Planet of Gods is the unique and realistic touch to all of Peter Blackwood’s experiences. Although the novel takes place in a world that is vastly different from our own, the reactions and thoughts of the protagonist are perfectly captured to convey a sense that this character is real. I could picture myself thinking and doing the same things as Peter Blackwood, and that’s a pretty refreshing aspect to find in a book.

Although this is can be considered a dystopian novel, I didn’t find it unnecessarily dark or moody. The story is punctuated by a diverse assortment of exciting missions and varied characters that are constantly cropping up. The author manages to create a hard-boiled science fiction story with a thrilling plot. I enjoyed the rich history of the planet, making it an intriguing character on it’s own rather than just a backdrop.

Peter Blackwood as a character gave me strong Jack Reacher vibes. Both are middle-aged, ex-military men always finding themselves the unlikely heroes of their situation. Although I enjoyed the humanity in Peter’s character, he could be cold and calculating but also empathetic and sensitive. Although I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment in the series. This is an exceptional read that will be enjoyed by any fan of science fiction adventure stories.

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B007FL0KO8

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How to Feel Sexy

How to Feel Sexy: The Art & Science of Feeling Sexy and Being Confident by [Salhi, Amine]

How to Feel Sexy: The Art & Science of Feeling Sexy and Being Confident by Amine Salhi is an illuminating how-to novella that eloquently instructs others on how to be more confident and feel sexy. This short book focuses on how sexiness is a feeling and separates that from the feeling of attraction. In other words, if you feel sexy it does not necessarily mean you are sexy to others. However, the boosted confidence does help attract others to you. This was a very enlightening point for me, and is a good example of how Amine Salhi gives the feeling of sexiness a different perspective. The author breaks down the book into different sections to make it easier to follow along and includes segments on flirting and changing your confidence.

I found How to Feel Sexy, and the discussion it enables, to be both humanizing and uplifting. But with that said I felt that some parts of the book repeatedly stated somethings were “not sexy,” came off a bit out of place at times. AI also felt that there was more of a focus on couples rather than single people. Despite that, I think this was an enriching experience overall and a good book to teach others about themselves via exploration of self.

What I really admire about How to Feel Sexy was that it does not take the “pickup artist” approach, and in fact, teaches how to be more confident in oneself and to feel sexy rather than looking sexy. I also found that the advice in this book did more than just promote confidence, it also helps with relationships and even discusses healthy ways of dealing with rejection, like moving on. How to Feel Sexy: The Art & Science of Feeling Sexy and Being Confident is about 46 pages long, and within this short amount of time you’ll feel more confident and shift your thoughts into a positive state of mind.

Pages: 46 | ASIN: B082RBXMTR

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