Category Archives: Four Stars

The Diamond Soul: 5 Stepping Stones to Christlike Character

The Diamond Soul: 5 Stepping Stones to Christlike Character (The Diamond Soul Trilogy Book 1) by [George Vasilca]

The stepping stones shared by George Vasilca in his book The Diamond Soul will help you change your life for the better. The author highlights the necessary virtues and habits that you can adopt to be the best version of yourself. The text in the book is uncomplicated and convincing for any reader who enjoys reading inspirational and religious books. When reading about heavenly virtues, I got to understand why God wants to be closer to his people and why everyone who believes in him has a personal responsibility to do by his will. The virtue of love spoke to me the most. Human love is beautiful. The author explains that by loving each other unconditionally, human beings get to exalt and exhibit the nature of the Almighty.

Other than improving your character to be Christ-like, George Vasilca will also have the reader ponder life and it’s meaning. While reading through the chapters, one thinks of one’s purpose on earth, their destiny, and why certain things happen. The author also gives clear answers to questions Christians ask about God as a supreme being. Reading this book is fulfilling as the author makes one feel at peace with his words. The text is therapeutic and gives one hope to face the next challenge. George Vasilca also reminds the reader that God’s love is all we need to enjoy life. The Lord has plans for everyone and will not hesitate to step in when the devil tries to overpower you.

Every stepping stone discussed in the book is important. My favorite stepping stones were 2, and 5. The topics under the two were ‘You are a Fighter’, and ‘Polishing Your Character’. The second stepping stone is helpful for someone who feels conflicted about self and is on the verge of giving up. the author reminds everyone that even when the going gets tough, there is someone or somewhere where you can lean on until things get better. The author also speaks to people who are still discovering themselves and explains how change can influence one as a human being. The biggest take I got on polishing one’s character was being a kind and humble servant. Christ loves it when his people serve the church and others. You will receive blessings when you serve your family, perform acts of kindness to strangers, and respect your friends. By putting yourself ahead of others, you are living as God intended.

George Vasilca incorporates his personal stories while giving lessons in the book. I enjoyed stories from his past because they show that human experiences are almost the same. His encounters were interesting and the conversations he had with people fascinating. The stories also added a personal touch to the book which made reading and relating with the author’s words easier. The stepping stones are like guides or tidbits of wisdom that will help you build character. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy inspirational books and are looking to live a righteous life.

Pages: 282 | ASIN: B08FMXTWVR

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The Calla’cara Gambit

The Calla'cara Gambit: The War Against Infinity: Book 2 by [Rob Bartlett]

The Calla’cara Gambit is a high- fantasy science fiction novel by author Robb Bartlett. It is the sequel to the award-winning novel The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity. Starting with the prologue, Lilith Morningstar´s plan goes awry when she is shockingly defeated and sent to an unknown planet by a powerful and mysterious man, identified as the “Chosen of the Adversary”. As she is discovered and forcibly escorted away by two individuals, she silently plots revenge against everyone who ever wronged her. Milo Sapphire finds himself in a difficult position, after being blackmailed into helping the Sentient Ships emancipate from the Empire and killing Lilith Morningstar (or so he thought), he’s aware of being targeted by three groups: the Lotus Eaters Society, the Khan of Calla´cara, and the Emperor himself. When one of his lovers is captured by the Empires ambassador, who threatens her should Milo do anything against the Emperor’s agenda; he must find a way of getting the job done before the deadline without risking the lives of his crewmembers while navigating a harsh political climate.

The Calla’cara Gambit is a space opera that combines the best elements of science fiction with elements of epic fantasy to create a consistently riveting novel. I enjoyed the detailed political and financial climate that the story exists in. I felt like these types of details made the world feel real. The story is mostly narrated in first-person through Milo Morningstar, a witty and sarcastic yet charming man who feels elevated because of his past actions, which have proven him to be the one chosen by the creator of the universe. The way the story is narrated through his point of view helps the reader form a deeper understanding of his character, his decisions, and his way of seeing the universe. Milo is cunning and therefore overconfident, which at times can be annoying but ultimately makes for a complex character and an interesting read.

The universe the story takes place in feels vast and is formed by many different worlds and planets, particularly Calla´cara, an exotic planet ruled by intelligent reptiles who seem to have their own agenda. The writing is unique, alternating between Milos first-person narration with third-person POV´S from different characters, this makes for a refreshing break from the main character’s monologue. Sometimes the mixture of genres can make the tone feel inconsistent, but that’s just a very minor concern.

The Calla’cara Gambit has a unique plot that is helped along by an engaging protagonist. Fans of Star Wars or space opera’s will have plenty to enjoy in Rob Bartlett’s dramatic novel.

Pages: 454 | ASIN: B08FWV5TBQ

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The Thriving Hive: How People-Centric Workplaces Ignite Engagement and Fuel Results

The Thriving Hive: How People-Centric Workplaces Ignite Engagement and Fuel Results by [Mari Ryan]

Anyone who has observed workplace trends and how employees in a company mingle while working together will agree that Mari Ryan wrote an informative book. The author bases all the information in the book on facts, experience, and years of research. The Thriving Hive gives you an insight into how different workplace cultures influence the productivity of employees and the rate by which companies grow. Organizations just like any entities need a specific framework to be run and a set of rules to be followed. If the management of the company puts minimum effort, then, the employees will reciprocate. The energy shown in company leadership has a huge effect on how the employees work.

In The Thriving Hive Mari Ryan talks about various types of employees, how the workplace can be a place of growth and the foundation for long-lasting goals and friendships. When reading this book, you realize that the workplace does not need to be too serious. A little fun and lightening up is allowed as long as everyone is taking care of their duties.

Through Mari Ryan’s personal experience, the reader learns how important it is for one to start their career in a warm and friendly workplace. The author writes about their lovely experiences which are encouraging. Working around people who show love and concern especially for junior employees is a pipe dream for many. Most times, seniors at a company tend to show juniors contempt due to their lack of experience and sometimes financial status. This should never be the case.

While reading this book, the general impression one gets is that the author is addressing the heads of companies and the management. Mari Ryan has solid advice for CEOs, managers, human resources, heads of departments, and all staff with senior positions. The message being reiterated throughout the book is that company heads should put their employees first. This includes employees from the lowest levels like janitors and messengers to those that hold the highest positions. Mari Ryan encourages organizations to treat their workers with dignity and in turn, they will get the best services from the employees. A happy employee will ensure that your client is also happy. This will lead to an increase in clients and thus growth of the company.

One notable thing in the book other than the solid advice is the beautiful storytelling done by the author. The narration skills are both modest and enthralling. The thriving Hive is for everyone in a leadership position or those aspiring to be leaders. This book will help business executives improve their administration skills and help shape the organizations that they head.

Pages: 234 | ASIN: B07H3879LT

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Amen and Amen

Amen and Amen by Gene Vickers is a simple but enchanting story set between the backwoods of Blairsville in northern Georgia and the elegant suburbs on its hilltop. While abject poverty and limited opportunities have kept one side of society barely scraping by, the other half lead extravagant lives filled with imported cars and vacation homes overseas. Long-buried secrets and animosity steeped in classism have divided the town for generations yet all that will start to change when the wealthiest boy in school befriends one of the poorest girls in the county. Their unlikely relationship will inspire a revolution throughout their town, leading to well-drawn lines in the sand becoming blurred as God and humanity intervene.

At its core, the book focuses on faith, family and football, first and foremost, and how those factors can come together to unite those who would be torn apart otherwise. Prepare to get swept away by interweaving tales that peer into the lives of the disenfranchised and the rich that prove that maybe the two have more in common than expected at a glance. Follow two disadvantaged adolescents in a heart-warming underdog story who join the elitist ranks of the football team in a move that upsets long-established social dynamics, for better or worse. Out on the gridiron, economics hardly even matter as the playing field is leveled to allow everyone’s God-given talent to shine through whether they reside in a trailer park or a mansion. Enemies can become brothers just as school friends can become lovers as long as everyone grows in grace and understanding.

Still, not everyone is without their faults and prejudices and, since the ages of old, the sins of the father can and certainly do come back to haunt his children so it’s easy to get caught up in the quaint town’s gossip mill and endless drama. Sinners and their descendants alike try throughout to reconcile with their past and present misdeeds from clandestine backroom dealings to unplanned pregnancies with only a hope and a prayer. However, with God’s eternal love comes forgiveness, culminating in a story brimming with vibrant characters, a touch of colorful language, and a whole lot of soul.

Amen and Amen is a twist on the classic boy-meets-girl theme yet the rags-to-riches theme can become repetitive. Some characters can feel one-dimensional at times as they heel-turn their previous convictions seemingly through faith alone and not necessarily hard work. Perhaps it just goes to show that humans are flawed and still God forgives all.

Read Amen and Amen if you want a feel-good Christian story filled with patriotic characters who, through their faith, prevail no matter what comes their way.

Pages: 357 | ASIN:  B08DL6FB5P

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The Second Truth

The Second Truth: Korean War by [John Viola HM2]

Everyone has a second truth in their lives. There is always some choice which can be made that will lead to suffering. We often do not know what these choices will lead to until it is too late. There are many people who do not fully understand what is entailed by their choice to protect and serve others, especially the suffering that can easily result from this choice. In the case of the Korean War, many of these sacrifices went forgotten by people back home, with a lack of recognition, this war, and the people who fought it began to fade into obscurity.

The Second Truth written by John Viola is a riveting personal account of his time spent in the military during the Korean War. This intriguing memoir gives incisive and thoughtful insight into what service men and women actually experience during their tours of duty. There is a matter of fact feeling to the book that tells it like it is.

While I enjoyed this memoir immensely, I would’ve like to have had the military terminology explained a little bit more so that readers who have no direct relation to the military could better understand what is being discussed. However, the book had a natural feel to it as well as an integrity to it that I found very satisfying and authentic.

If you are looking for a memoir that provides a candid view of the military during the Korean War then I would highly recommend The Second Truth by John Viola.

Pages: 62 | ASIN: B0794RTL9M

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Hidden Unknown Truth

Hidden Unknown Truth: A Guide to Consciousness, Spiritual Awakening, and the Joy of Living by [Edward Scott]

Edward Scott book, Hidden Unknown Truth, is about consciousness, self-improvement, and being a better human in whatever one does. The author focuses on important aspects of human life that sometimes get overlooked as people tend to be busy. Reading Hidden Unknown Truth is therapeutic. The author gives step by step guides that will help readers in their journey of self-improvement and enlightenment. The book opens by talking about motivation to try a new way. The author adds in questions that will help one examine life and everything that exists.

I enjoyed the chapter about consciousness the most. The mind is a beautiful but sometimes strange organ. Edward Scott demonstrates how the mind works and why it is crucial to not believe everything that we see. One of my favorite lines by the author is ‘Consciousness begins once we are aware that we are thinking or feeling’. To expound on this statement, the author recounts an experience and how he tried to watch his thoughts. The author writes that we have no power over which thoughts enter our mind but we have power over what we decide to do with our thoughts. The discussion on this particular chapter was enlightening and interesting on many different levels.

Other than getting life lessons, the author also talks about humility and the satisfaction of being a kind person. You may be the sharpest in the room but without humility, you are no different from those who are proud and arrogant. Three major ideas from this chapter are acknowledge, ask for help, and give thanks. There is no shame in asking for help when stuck. Being grateful is an excellent quality for a wholesome being. The explanation beneath every virtue made things clearer. Spirituality is as important as any other virtue. The breaking down of the topics was a great concept as the author highlighted critical areas that readers can pay more attention to.

Hidden Unknown Truth is one of the best self-help and motivational books I have read this year. With the author’s advice, one is sure to sharpen the areas in their life that they feel were being neglected. Edward Scott writes gracefully and reasonably. He minds his readers and understands that everyone has different experiences in life. I like his view on many things like having faith, self-love, respect, being grateful, and not giving up. The discussions are brief but have a massive impact on the reader. Edward Scott encourages positivity and loving life. His step by step approach to achieving inner peace is the best thing any reader can follow.

Pages: 119 | ASIN: B07VFLZ9QB

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A Rift That Lies Between Us

A Rift That Lies Between Us: A Novel by [Nasiha Muna]

A Rift That Lies Between Us is a coming of age story about love, tradition, race, and the impact of unlikely friendships. Farisa is an art-major, who escaped the pressures of her highly traditional Muslim family, by going to college out of state. This is where Farisa meets Caiden, a charming, but sometimes overly dramatic classmate who Farisa forms an unexpected friendship with. Despite their drastically different backgrounds often getting in the way, Farisa’s relationship with Caiden shifts something inside her that proves to be the exact push she needs to start living her life, for her and not just everyone else.   

Following a coming of age story that starts in college and goes through early adulthood was refreshing in and of itself, but the fact that this novel also tackled the difficulties of first-generation kids growing up with the conflict of traditional family pressures, and more modern beliefs face was a delightful departure from the norm. Muna was able to bring us into the conflict and pressures of Farisa’s Muslim Bangladeshi-American family in a way that is accessible and eye-opening. 

While Muna was able to give us a well-rounded view of Farisa’s family life and what that demanded of her, some of the attempts at representation seemed a bit forced. I’m all for more representation for minorities in books and media, but some of the lesser storylines about LGBTQ+ issues and mental health didn’t get the focus and the detail that it deserved and as a result didn’t feel as meaningful as it should have. 

I was invested in Farisa’s life and her relationship with Caiden but the book could have used a bit more time to develop some of the other storylines that were brought in to have the impact they deserved to have on Farisa’s life, self-discovery, and beliefs.

Farisa and Caiden’s relationship and all the forms it took over the 8 years this novel covered provided a refreshing look at the evolution of how cultural differences can inform relationships, for better or worse, and the importance of finding your own voice before it’s too late.

I haven’t read a book in a long time that I couldn’t put down in the way that I couldn’t put A Rift That Lies Between Us down, I found myself giddy with excitement, devastatingly sad and completely engrossed in Farisa and Caiden’s story.

Pages: 278 | ASIN: B07T324W4L

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Raw Kingdom: Buried in the Dust

Raw Kingdom: Buried in the Dust by [Y. Daher]

Khadir is beginning to regret going to visit his cousins in Djadzele. It’s hot, nobody speaks English, there’s no cell signal, and it comes with it’s own new dangers. He grew up in the Hood, but this place is different. Yeah there may be a few loose cannons occasionally having drive-by shootings, but at least he never had to deal with animal attacks or full on roving armies. He makes an innocent mistake and drinks some juice so he gets sent to the market. While at the market he sees someone in trouble and decides to help…. and it all goes downhill from there. So much for being the hero.

I found the juxtaposition between Khadir’s American upbringing compared to Mohamed’s Djadzele upbringing to be interesting and engaging. Mohamed is a sweet and practical boy that makes for a good side kick to the story. Khadir is a snarky American teenager, brimming with cockiness and pop culture references. For all his cockiness though, it’s funny to watch him be so afraid of things. Having Mohamed level him out and be more rational was just what the story needed. Mohamed is less worldly, but is also confident. He knows what to do and when to do it, but he lacks the cockiness of his cousin. If they were both confident and cocky, the story would lose it’s charm. In the last chapter or two of the book we get a new addition to the story. We get some hints at their personality, but I can’t wait to see how they fair. Hopefully the next book will be out soon, because they aren’t out of danger by the end of the book! I have to know how it ends!

Raw Kingdom is a thrilling adventure story that will have urban fantasy fans begging for the follow-up novel.

Pages: 123 | ASIN: B08DK3GXRG

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