Category Archives: Four Stars

The Significant

The Significant by [Kyra Anderson]

The Significant is a dystopian tale of a society in which the few have it all but there are a large number of poor without nationality. Kailynn is born into this society and vehemently detests the rich and controlling Syndicate. However, in order to save her brother, she takes on a job as a Significant who interacts with Elites for a price. Her whole world changes when she is assigned to the mysterious Golden Elite and suddenly things become more complicated, but there is hope for a brighter future. If Kailynn survives. The story is fast-paced and will keep readers hooked from the first page as the characters are plunged into different twists and turns.

Author Kyra Anderson’s novel has an original plot and world-building despite taking on a lot of familiar themes such as dystopia ruled by the rich or increasing automation. Unlike most dystopian stories, The Significant does not have a near-apocalyptic theme and creates a more original universe than what many dystopian novels offer. Similarly, the idea that a controlling society is bad for everyone is explored in this book which makes it easy to empathize with many characters and get new perspectives.

The Significant has a unique take on a dysfunctional society in that it reflects a lot of modern immigration issues and sympathizes with displaced peoples. That issue features prominently in the book and makes connections to modern day issues. Similarly, in connection to the modern day, the book features many lead LGBTQIA+ relationships which are normalized in the novel. It is extraordinarily refreshing to read a book in which a lesbian couple features prominently and is not merely used for entertainment or to appeal to a male audience.

The plot and story itself is highly enjoyable. It provides a lot of detail and background that gives a clear idea as to how Tiao works and why their society is locked in the situation the book is set in. The characters are well-done and distinct, each having their own voice and personality that comes off the page, especially Kailynn and Isa although the reader does have to take some time to get to know Isa, just as Kailynn does. The action is vivid and heart-pounding and the quieter, more intimate moments will still have the reader hooked and enraptured by the tension. Fans of science-fiction must read The Significant!

Pages: 599 | ASIN: B01HSMVA1A

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Out Of Time

Out of Time: Predicting the Science of Future Centuries and Millenia educates readers on the universe and how it is infinite and eternal, but scientifically created. It is written by Australian author Rodney Bartlett, who describes himself as a ‘citizen scientist’. It is clear that the author is very passionate and knowledgeable about this subject.

Out of Time has a simple to follow structure; it is structured into chapters, sections and subsections. These are all detailed in the Table of Contents at the beginning of the text, enabling the reader to select specific chapters or subsections to read.  Some of the chapters are long, whilst others are quite short, dependent on the subject. Overall the text is well structured, and tighter editing of the sentences would enhance its readability.

In this illuminating book the author switches from using scientific and mathematical phrases and jargon to more conversational language, which keeps things moving but consistently informative. The choice of more informal language allows the book to be more accessible to a wider audience.

I appreciated the numerous references provided throughout the book, which indicates that the authors has researched this topic thoroughly, and it allowed me to follow the subject in other text which greatly expanded my understanding of the ideas discussed. I think that consistent formatting in the reference lists would allow readers to find the article or book easier if they want to do further research.

There are multiple references to well-known scientists throughout the book such as; Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Galileo, and Kepler. This is helpful in linking older scientific research with newer scientific theories and theories and I liked how this placed the work in historical context and gave the impression that this idea transcends time.

Out of Time: Predicting the Science of Future Centuries and Millenia is a well-researched and highly enlightening book. The author makes a very complex subject accessible to everyday readers. It is always a pleasure to read a book written by such a passionate author.

Pages: 132 | ISBN: 6203573957

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Heavenly

Heavenly is a fascinating and stirring contemporary fiction novel that explores the themes of second chances, priorities, love and hope. It follows the remarkable journey of John, a man who is suddenly killed and, instead of being admitted to heaven he is given a second chance at life by returning to earth as another man, Peter.

Duffy gives a very detailed description of John’s physical appearance, and later, Peter’s physical appearance. The effect of this is twofold. Firstly, the reader gets a feeling for the characters and the characters begin to come alive. Secondly, the reader begins to see how much value John, and later Peter, place on physical appearance – both themselves, but also in those that they attempt to form relationships with. Set in the present day in various cities in the U.S., the setting is described, but not in great detail. It does seem authentic but doesn’t give the reader the feeling of being immersed in the setting.

Although the story opens with John, there are really two main characters in this contemplative story, Peter and Tara. Both of these characters are fairly well developed. Peter, a middle-aged man appears to be overly interested in how women look and is constantly concerned about money. Although he has been given a second chance at life, he doesn’t know this. Tara is on a very different journey, although her life also focuses on money. Both characters yearn for love, this is evident in their dialogue with other characters, with each other, and their inner dialogues. Both characters also switch between having hope and feeling hopeless. There are also a number of smaller, but equally intriguing characters, whom often offer sage advice to the main characters.

Heavenly is a well-structured literary fiction novel that I found to be easy to follow. Although John and Peter are similar, it is clear from the structure which character is speaking. The structure follows Peter’s life as he ages, and the reader continually asks themselves – is he going to use his second chance wisely?

Heavenly is an intelligent and poignant novel exploring themes of hope, love and second chances in refreshing and satisfying ways.

Pages: 234 | ASIN: B08Z2ZG5SR

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A Place to Hide

A Place to Hide by [David Salner]

Set in early twentieth-century New York, A Place to Hide by David Salner narrates the story of Bill Waite, a fugitive. He escapes from Montana’s merciless boss and arrives in New York in the hope of starting a new chapter in life. There he discovers a friend and confidant in Virgil Shulman, who helps him secure a job.

Shulman is the first-ever man of Jewish descent that Waite meets, and he learns a great deal about the Yiddish culture, history, and religion. While trying to help a child, Waite falls in love with her mother, and finally finds happiness in life after years of suffering. But his peace doesn’t last long as he comes into the public eye via newspaper coverage after saving someone’s life. To know how he manages to dodge these circumstances and find the light at the end of the tunnel, you have to dive into this gripping novel.

A Place to Hide has an intriguing narrative that delves into a fugitive’s psyche and allows us to explore his side of the story. The author skillfully conveys thought-provoking messages through this work while keeping the readers glued to the pages. Waite is wholeheartedly embraced by the new culture that he finds himself in, and he learns to celebrate the differences among religions, rather than having a biased outlook on life. While working on the tunnel-making project, the tremendously risky job ties the workers in a single thread, where nation, race, or religion become irrelevant. They share a camaraderie untainted by the worldly evils that attempt to discriminate and differentiate one human from another.

Throughout this action-packed novel, I was surprised by the consistently high level of intrigue throughout the novel, possibly due to the authentic and emotive characters. This riveting historical fiction story offers insight into the lives of people during the 1920s, the prevalent societal issues and morality, bound together with suspense and a touch of humor.

The powerful storytelling, the lucid language, the carefully crafted plot, the thrilling action, and the element of suspense are some of the key aspects that make this book a must-read. A Place to Hide is an emotionally resonant and stimulating story that is as exciting as it is enlightening.

Pages: 216 | ASIN:  B08TWGQP43

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Perfect: A Path to Love, Forgiveness and Transformation

Perfect: A Path to Love, Forgiveness and Transformation by [Judi Miller]

Perfect: A Path to Love, Forgiveness and Transformation by Judi Miller is a combination of memoir and a spiritual and motivational self-help book. The main focus is learning how to actually feel your emotions in your body rather than creating negative stories in your head about the events that caused the emotion. The author tells of her personal journey to overcome fear and find her purpose and the path that led her to become the person she was meant to be. The book is divided in to three parts and at the end of each section, Judi provides exercises to put the principles she describes into practice to benefit the reader. Additional resources at the back of the book include a list of her mentors and their websites.

I liked reading about the different people that helped Judi on her journey, especially her healer, Diana, and Spencer the dog. A few of the names that were mentioned were ones that many readers will recognize, since they are well known persons. But most of the names were new to me. I was inspired by the way that Judi kept working to process her feelings despite obstacles and setbacks. One example is how she had to accept that she might never learn all the answers about the secrets she discovered in her family’s past. I liked how she acknowledged that she still struggles at times, but she does not allow that to make her give up.

Judi hid so much from her family and friends and she never mentioned sharing any these things with them in the end, which I would have liked to see. She felt so close with her healer that she could talk about all this to Diana even though it was sometimes delayed. It was mentioned multiple times that Judi did not feel as though she could share the things she was going through with her family because of the fear that she would not be believed or they would not understand.

Perfect: A Path to Love, Forgiveness and Transformation is an uplifting memoir detailing an inspirational personal testimony that affected me greatly. Judi Miller’s impassioned book will take readers on a compelling and contemplative journey that will stay with them long after they are done reading.

Pages: 207 | ASIN:  B08CWTLH78

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The Unexpected Journey: Fire and Gold

The Unexpected Journey: Fire and Gold by [Dedrick Moone, Haelee Moone, Sterling Harrell, Shanique Davis]

For many people, being able to work doing something you love is a dream. It certainly began that way for Dedrick Moone. But the dream only lasted a few years before it turned ugly, eventually taking a path toward discrimination, harassment, and illness which only served to create an environment where Dedrick feared losing what he truly loved most- his daughter, Haelee. Even as she faced her own struggles, with the both of them locked in conflicts that literally took years to resolve, they never failed to have faith that they would come out on the other side, stronger from their experiences.

The Unexpected Journey: Fire and Gold by Dedrick Moone, with contributions by his daughter Haelee, is at its heart a story about perseverance and faith. As Dedrick recounts all his trials and tribulations, he associates each one with a scripture or passage that he feels corresponds to his situation. The writing is impassioned gets to be a little technical at points. Each incident is described with analytical details and includes copies of letters, memos, and legal notices at the end. As far as the message goes, however, the optimism and faith that both authors exhibit, even at their lowest points, is remarkable to witness over the course of the tale. In a way, the book can be considered a testament of sorts about not abandoning your faith when all seems lost.

The huge setbacks that Both Dedrick and Haelee suffer in both their personal and private lives would leave many others despondent, but they continued on. Dedrick is also consistently motivated by his love for Haelee, and often talks to his readers, reminding them that how things are now, is not how things will always be; which is something we all need to be reminded of every now and then.

The message was wonderful and the resilience of the Moones was incredible to read. I’m fairly invested and will be looking up more of their story, but I would have loved to explore their personal journeys more and have less technical details because I found them to be so compelling on their own. 

The Unexpected Journey: Fire and Gold is an emotionally charged memoir that will bring hope and inspiration to many readers.

Pages: 192 | ASIN: B08W8SNH8Z

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The Philosophy of Vice

The Philosophy of Vice by [Vasile Ghiuta]

The Philosophy of Vice is an enlightening book that explores the realities of life, people and their personalities and how social norms get practiced. The author writes in depth about a variety of topics, covering science, religion, humanity and other disciplines. Reading Vasile Ghiuta’s work is a delight as the author gets you to focus on different topics as you learn about the diversities in life. I like the approach the author took when writing the book. After introducing a topic, the author gives a simple definition and then goes on to discuss the topic in detail.

The first chapter contains the definitions of a variety of words, including ‘philosophy’ and ‘vice’. Defining these terms was important for the reader as the two formed the basis of the discussions in the book. Once the reader understands the terms, the author goes further and subdivides the two topics, talking about different classifications and comparing them to related subjects. This style of writing gets the ready to fully comprehend the message that the author is passing. Every topic covered in the book is crucial but there are a few topics that stood out for me.

Some of my favorite topics were about morals and vices, consciousness, identity and vice, and religion and vices. The topic on religion and vices is eye opening. Religion is personal to many people and so discussions revolving around the topic can be sensitive to certain individuals. The author was however objective, not looking down on any religious folk and instead highlighting important subjects and how religion affects everyone. One thing every reader will appreciate about Vasile Ghiuta is how the author writes everything based on facts and proven theories. The author simplifies complex concepts to the satisfaction of both seasoned and young readers.

The Philosophy of Vice is a sharply observant and thought-provoking book exploring various topics from the authors unique philosophical views.

Pages: 187 | ASIN: B0917V6GRX

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Someone’s Story

Someone's Story by [B.A. Bellec, Sheila Harris]

Someone’s Story by award winning author B.A. Bellec follows a seventeen-year-old teenager who wants to be referred to as “Someone”. When young, naive, and inherently “weird” Someone moves to a new town and is suddenly faced with the grueling challenges of adapting in high school; academics, crushes, bullying, and making friends in an environment not suited for many personality types, especially introverts. As Someone navigates through the complexities of high school life, he struggles with the feeling of not belonging, friends who don’t really want the best for him, friends who do, and the most daunting of all; mental illness. And so as he goes through all these seemingly normal activities, Someone is dealing with an internal struggle which leads to a couple of surprising plot twists and a mind-blowing finale.

This book is written in a poetic narrative using short and simple sentences which is similar to the way actual modern day teenagers speak. The writing style is unorthodox, but it makes for a wonderful literary treat. The pacing is somewhat slow at the beginning, and it feels like the plot is just random occurrences happening to the main character. However as the story progresses, these connect with each other to form the plot as a whole. Also, what at first seems like a mundane high school story – typical mean popular kids, the outcasts, and inspirational teachers- evolves into a series of surprising plot twists that keep the story fresh and interesting.

A very important aspect of this book is the way the main character (Someone) is written. It is revealed that he struggles with mental illness. But what really matters is the way it is portrayed. Someone is shown to go to parties, make friends, and do okay academically, which is pretty accurate. People hear depression and expect the character to be bed-ridden and unable to complete basic daily life tasks but that is not usually the case, and it’s beautiful how this book shows that mental illness can come in many shapes and sizes and could be happening to anyone.

Someone’s Story is a uniquely thoughtful young adult novel that accurately portrays what mental illness can feel like both for the person who struggles with it and the people around them. This is an impassioned and emotionally resonant story that will stay with you for a long time.

Pages: 330 | ASIN: B086Q2Y41W

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