Category Archives: Four Stars

Transgression

Transgression: Hitler, Mirka, Mireille and Me by Ben Stoltzfus is an captivating autofiction written in first person narrative. In this fascinating story, the author presents his journey from the city of Sofia to America. The Nazi rule and the conditions of German-occupied places have been described in vivid detail by the author. The story is continuously moving from one place to another while the author explores the conundrum of youthful wishes and religious preaching’s.

This is a thought-provoking book that is very descriptive. The author has described everything around himself in detail. It is autofiction, which means it is a mixture of two different genres, i.e., autobiography and fiction. While reading this book, I also felt like I was reading a candid memoir. The protagonist of the book is the author himself. Readers have a limited point of view, and through this point of view we see the intriguing development of the author’s mind.

This book explores romance and youthful pleasures in Nazi Germany. Through subtle hints and indirect narration the author explains the political, economic, and social conditions of the world at that time. There was a constant battle between good and evil in the author’s mind and this gives readers an interesting peek into the author’s thinking. This book is much more than just an autobiography; it has a huge part of history infused in it. The author has done a brilliant job in relaying small details and facts in subtle ways throughout the book that make the story feel authentic.

This is an eloquent portrayal of the people living and leaving Germany during Nazi-occupation. The instances of hiding and bombings are excruciatingly realistic. The fear of survival yet the normalcy of buying food items from the market, studying, and thoughts of settling in the future shows readers the stark contrast of that time.

I recommend Transgression to readers looking for an intellectually invigorating yet emotionally-resonant historical fiction novel that provides a look at humanity during a monumentally difficult time in history.

Pages: 290 | ISBN: 163988517X

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Zipline

Zipline tells the riveting story of two couples and their friend who are determined to zipline down a mountain. Each of them have a bright future ahead of them, but will they survive what hides in the woods? The group’s trek up the mountain is riddled with intrigue. Strange sounds and curious marks on the trees leave them wondering, is something following them? Gail has heard scary stories about the mountain from her uncle. Could the stories be true? What secrets are the woods hiding? Zipline hooks the reader almost immediately. This is a suspenseful story with a compelling mix of tension and adventure.

I really enjoyed the characters in Zipline. There is complex but brave Gail, resourceful Danny, insecure-ish Paula, weed-head Sam and hard-to-pin-down Neal. Each character is unique and compelling and their issues with each other makes their relationships feel deep and meaningful, and makes for a gripping read when things go awry.

The trek through the woods is written in such a way that readers will feel practically compelled to continue reading. The characters reactions to situations in the woods are stunningly detailed and their emotions are conveyed in a way that allows readers to experience the emotional highs and lows right along with the characters. The majority of the story takes place in the woods, which provides a captivating setting for the story and imbues the book with a sense of intrigue and adventure throughout. The story has many suspenseful moments, but there are also light-hearted moments which is welcome because at times the issues faced in the woods can be grim.

P. Anthony Michael has created a suspenseful story with a unique adventure element that is interesting, but I felt that some scenes were a bit drawn out. I would have liked more of an emphasis or build up to the warning that Gail’s uncle gives them about the danger in the woods, but otherwise I think this is still and entertaining mystery story that fans of adventure novels will find engrossing. I recommend Zipline for its gripping storyline that leaves you wondering; what will happen next?

Pages: 87 | ASIN: B0B3C7ZZ7H

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Price of Life

Price of Life by David Crane is a page-turning and suspenseful science fiction story that follows the journey of a prehistoric boy who discovers an unusual meteorite while hunting, which gives him the power of immortality. He becomes the first known human to possess this power, and all the benefits and challenges that it carries. It’s a great supernatural story that touches on many historical eras, including references to World Wars I and II and the Russian Civil War.

Crane writes in such as realistic way, as if the story is a documentary, following the character through many years, societies, and relationships. The gift of immortality is a power for which many people would do anything, but what are the consequences when an immortal falls in love with a mortal? Many people, such as Laura, keep the nature of their existence secretive, though eventually, it must be revealed to those closest people to her. The story explores many aspects of immortality and how living without the fear of aging and dying, while an amazing experience, can present a new world of challenges.

How do the characters handle life after thousands of years of existence? Would you abandon your gift of immortality to become a frail mortal and live like everyone else? Crane does an exceptional job of bringing up the question of humanity’s fragile existence and how people would handle a life that never ends. Is it a gift that later becomes a curse when everyone you love eventually leaves you in death?

I recommend Price of Life for its original and creative style and unique twist on the human side of a popular science fiction theme. It’s a great story for fans of this genre who want to explore the implications of immortality.

Pages: 318 | ASIN: B00Y424WD6

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The Way of Courage

Mia the small raccoon loves exploring and hunting alongside her mother and brothers. But when the unexpected occurs, Mia finds herself far from home and everything she knew. Thrust into a brand-new environment, and struggling to use her limited knowledge to survive, Mia finds herself in danger as she fights to adapt. Discovering new allies as well as new enemies, Mia and her friends, Coe the handsome raccoon, Henry the badger, and Gallant the crow work together to defend their forest home. Encountering both good and bad from their human neighbors, Mia and her forest community must find a way to protect their futures against a deadly foe.

Raccoons are one of nature’s most endearing creatures. When I was young, my family and I would safely observe these highly intelligent creatures from our own home. The Way of Courage showcases the raccoons propensity for mischief and their ingenuity in navigating situations. The message of protecting the forest environment as shown through the eyes of Mia feels authentic and grounded, while the characterization of the animals weaves a story that is both suspenseful and engaging. I loved the legend of how the raccoon got her mask, and I look forward to the day when leg-hold traps are effectively illegal nationwide. This is an adventure story that has intense moments, but that ends satisfactorily with no loose ends. This educational children’s chapter book also includes notes on safe observation tactics and how to chronicle your own nature findings.

I recommend The Way of Courage by Janet Hallagin for its ability to weave an important message of ecological protection into an interesting and informative narrative. A story of bravery, teamwork, and going the extra mile to protect the world from harm, The Way of Courage is a highly engaging children’s book about heroism, and how even one small raccoon can make a big difference.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B0056J6WES

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Demented

Cindy Smith is a young woman living in Washington, D.C., making a life of her own. Her present seems perfectly happy until her past hunts her down. Cindy has frequent suspicious encounters with Adan Jackson at her workplace. Adan Jackson is one of the three men who gang-raped her sixteen years before and got away with a misdemeanor assault charge. Cindy engages a private investigator, Nickey Arnold, to deal with her tormentor. But, as Nickey investigates further, a harrowing set of events lead all three men to make their way back into Cindy’s life, and she has to reopen chapters she never wished to read.

Demented by Joe Clark is a crime thriller novel that begins like a mystery and ends like an action movie. As stated by the author, it is genuinely a “story of crime, punishment and getting away with it.” Though being a crime drama, the author successfully maintains the characters’ compassionate nature. The story revolves around events that would help bring the plot forward and dwells in the great depths of its real-life characters.

The writing style is simple yet gripping. The story progresses with multiple episodic scenes, which could be translated well into a screenplay. The plot may feel like a train where we keep adding carriages to reach the end. Though this might be interesting for readers who love the suspense as a genre, it might be mind-boggling for others. The numerous characters and their names could be hard to keep in line with the story. However, the multifold narrative, strong roles, and quick pacing story wouldn’t let readers put down the book. The author effectively covers a realistic description of how law and justice play out in society.

Demented is a mystery thriller that will leave readers wondering if it is right to believe everything is either black or white or if it has been a grey area all along. It is a reviving tale of right or wrong and everything in between.

Pages: 412 | ASIN : B0872HRL57

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The Ballpark Buster

The Ballpark Buster by Don Shearer tells the story of an average kid, Buster, who lives an ordinary life like everyone else, with just one difference: he’s well over six feet in height by the time he’s twelve years old. Buster strives to have a normal life, hanging out with friends, going to school, helping his parents at home, and playing sports, despite this unusual medical condition that rapidly speeds up his growth rate. Instead of focusing on the challenges of his record-breaking height, Buster Logan uses it to his advantage to become an athlete. He quickly learns how his size can work for him, not against his pursuits, transforming his life from ordinary to an extraordinary nationwide sports hero.

This fascinating story is set in the 1940’s, imbuing this sports fiction story a unique historical fiction feel. The story explores the golden era of major league baseball, a simpler life, and the nostalgia of this decade. Shearer writes a rousing story which feels like a classic with a clear and lighthearted tone throughout, making this an easy read. It’s a fun book for children and young adults. It conveys the importance of living your life to its fullest potential and using any attribute you have, including an unusual height, to your advantage.

Shearer adds creative and unique characteristics into a tale that could otherwise be considered ordinary. It’s a fantastic story for baseball fans as there are pictures of ballparks included, and the descriptions give the reader a decent visual of the author’s love of the game. It’s an inspirational and feel-good story that makes a great light read. I recommend The Ballpark Buster for its creativity and simple but profound writing that makes a fun story for all ages.

Pages: 287 | ASIN: B0B7QP7V9X

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Late In the Day

We all sit and think about the future and what’s to come. What should we expect when a tragedy befalls us? Such as losing a loved one. We shake at the mere thought of it. Brett Shapiro’s thought-provoking book, Late in The Day, explores this emotional strife in a thoughtful and candid way that makes the idea approachable.

This enlightening book follows three individuals in three different settings; all wandering in a very similar path in life however. Honey, Hank, and Seth find themselves feeling this sense of detachment in life due to troubled personal circumstances with their spouses, or late spouses. Hank’s wife, Marilyn, died five years ago. His children live afar, leaving him on his own for most of the time except for on special occasions. Seth is left with Winston, his dog, following his divorce with his husband, Yoni. Honey lives with her husband, but not really. Having minimum interactions as they see each other in passing, to sleeping in different rooms to his sudden death. All three are fighting their own battles, but on similar grounds; isolation on Florida’s coastline.

Readers follow the three as they encounter each other due to their similar ritual of a solitary walk on the beach at five in the morning. Their friendship develops further with every step and every walk. Through this friendship the three find the companionship they’ve subconsciously been longing for and find solace in each other.

Late in the Day explores the harsh realities of life and conveys interesting ideas through a unique and uncensored perspective. This heartfelt story also gives a sense of hope to readers and teaches a valuable lesson. Companionship doesn’t just come from a romantic relationship; it could also come from friendship. And no matter what stage in life you are, it’s never too late to make friends!

One of my favorite sayings from the book is an exchange between Hank and Honey, where Hank says, “Nothing belongs to us. We don’t possess anything.” To which Honey responds, “but there are certain things that we cling to anyway, as if our life depended on it. For me, it’s this place. If this place has to change, I want to have a say.” This is a profound exchange that reflects the contemplative feel of the whole book.

Pages: 358 | ASIN: 1639885331

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Homecoming Heist

Four men. Four desperate situations. How far would you go to keep a roof over your head? This is the question posed in Tyson Collin’s crime thriller, Homecoming Heist. Centered around our downtrodden protagonists, each man is pushed to his end when the economic situation of their dwindling, rural town threatens his livelihood.

Bo, a down-on-his-luck real estate developer can feel the hounds at the bank breathing down his neck just as another deal falls through the cracks. Doug, an unemployed ex-con, is simply trying to look after his brother’s son after several stints left him unable to raise the orphaned child, now a young man who grew up in the foster system. Steve, Doug’s nephew, has no job prospects to replace the anger constantly coursing through him from losing both his parents at a young age. Phil, a recovering alcoholic turned AA sponsor, has also seen better days and could use a windfall after years of battling addiction.

Desperation forces them to band together when a series of unfortunate events pushes them to cook up the biggest money heist their small Missouri town has ever seen. The play is sure to solve all their financial problems, but will they be able to pull it off without getting caught, or killed?

Readers will immediately be sucked into this spellbinding heist novel. I really enjoyed the intriguing depth that each character develops throughout the story. This adds much more suspense once the action picked up because I was so invested in the characters. The story reminded me of the American neo-western crime drama Hell or Highwater; compelling because you care about the characters.

Readers follow the band of thieves throughout their scheming, which is all planned out during the distraction of their local high school’s homecoming celebrations. This is a suspenseful novel with a variety of twists that I never saw coming but thoroughly enjoyed. Things quickly go sideways, leaving every man’s freedom in jeopardy. When tragedy strikes, will our antiheroes be able to overcome it or will they have to pay the ultimate price? After getting a little more than halfway through Homecoming Heist I found it hard to put down.

Pages: 261 | ASIN: B0BF2SS5B8

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