Category Archives: Four Stars

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth by [Perkins, Suzetta]

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth, written by Suzetta Perkins is a book which draws the reader into an entangled mess of classified government secrets and the trials and tribulations of military relationships. Military wife Persenia is married to Brigadier General Reggie, who’s been committing adultery for years, and she’s just about had enough of it. Fueled by a meeting with the woman she suspects to be his lover, she vows to divorce him and drag his name through the mud. But, this is all before he is called away on urgent business in the Middle East, where ISIS are increasing their presence.

Perkins narrates the story from a number of different viewpoints – mainly Persenia’s, but also from Reggie’s and Rasheed – a terrorist. The relationships are complicated and fiery, full of arguments and strife. Without the different narrators, it would be hard to keep up – but the variety allows a range of different perspectives. It doesn’t stop readers being on Persenia’s side though and feeling sorry for the women of the story, who are regularly messed around on by their husbands.

The book is an emotional one, powered by lots of strong feelings – thoughts of jealousy, revenge, and anger. But through this, we can see there had once been a lot of love in the ruined relationships, and can’t help but feel sad at the loss. Throughout, it’s easy to find yourself getting involved, which is a testament to how well the book is written. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel with a suggestion of real love forming, amidst a story full of unhealthy relationships and immoral behavior.

Alongside the emotional turmoil is the contrasting stoic, male-dominated world of the military. Persenia is known for her upstanding reputation as a wife and party planner and has been Reggie’s rock, supporting him whilst he has built his career. This draws a comparison to what occurs behind different types of closed doors – such as people’s homes and in classified military offices. To the people looking in, Persenia and Reggie’s relationship is perfect and strong, and the government officers are handling the issues in the Middle East. From the outside, it all seems to be in hand. The issues that face military wives are highlighted – the extensive adultery, emotional and physical abuse from dominant men who are used to getting their own way. Persenia’s character also draws on the isolation that a military wife might feel, as she is moved from place to place as her husband is posted all over the country and overseas for months at a time.

Perkins’ book is a story of intrigue – you really want to find out if the characters will reconcile and how they will react when all is revealed. It runs alongside a mysterious terrorist plot that adds pressure to the boiling relationships and forces the plot lines to meet and come to blows.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B073MC9ZN7

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The Cold Trail

The Cold Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 4) by [Fields, J.C.]

J.C. Fields has brought back our favorite FBI special agent Sean Kruger in The Cold Trail. Without missing a beat, we pick up where we left off: Kruger is retired, teaching at a university and things are moving along for him. However, when an incident that reminds him of an unsolved set of cases from his past pops up, Kruger goes back to where he’s most comfortable: to the FBI. Kruger is truly in his prime as he works to apprehend a malicious murderer who has haunted him all these years. It’s an emotional roller coaster that involves international intrigue and understanding of the human soul. Fields does not disappoint in this installment in the saga that is Sean Kruger’s life.

There’s no denying that Kruger’s retirement from the FBI in the last installment of the series may have left fans wanting more. Whether it was planned or not, Fields has given us more time with Kruger. The chilling case that Kruger couldn’t solve in the nineties has come back in full force as he attempts to settle in at the university. We know Kruger isn’t made for this and he soon returns to the FBI, hot on the trail of the elusive perpetrator of heinous acts. The emotion is raw as Fields uses his skill to describe a very disturbing chain of events that left several college athletes missing. The best part about a book by Fields is that while it is not lacking in action and intrigue, there is also compassion and an excellent unveiling of the human heart and mind.

There are moments when the reader will hold their breath, waiting in anticipation of what will happen next. Fields keeps all of us guessing who the true criminal is while pulling out all the stops along the way. Characters we know and love from earlier installments in the series make their appearance and Fields has clearly crafted a spectacular world. Characters don’t suddenly act contrary to how they were portrayed in earlier books which can be hard to do when you’ve been spanning four full length novels. While it might seem unrealistic to develop four full novels in less than five years, Fields does it and he does it well.

The best part about reading a Fields book, aside from wonderfully crafted characters, is the fact that he makes his genres easy to read for those who may not be familiar with them. Mysteries and thrillers set in a law enforcement atmosphere run the risk of inundating readers with terminology and actions that will be alien to them unless they have worked in that field or have been aggressively reading books in that setting for a long time. Fields knows this and uses just enough vernacular to make it believable while also catering to all types of readers.

Anyone who is looking for an excellent read about the human condition and what we are all capable of needs to pick up a copy of J.C. Fields’ The Cold Trail as soon as possible. Readers will no doubt come to love Sean Kruger and his band of merry agents as they traverse the country in their quest to quell the darkness of the human soul.

Pages: 357 | ASIN: B07DTJN5X2

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Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades

Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades by [Reinard, Cara]

Cara Reinard’s novel is an engaging story that gives readers a literary take on the popular genre of shows called the ‘The Real Housewives Of (enter your city of choice here)’ It tells the story of Cece and her family – her cheating rat of a husband and their children Camdyn and Josie. Very much modeled on the idea of the ‘American dream’, it lets the reader in on what goes on behind the closed doors of a family suffering from mental illness, infidelity, and financial issues.

Written from the first-person perspective of Cece, we see the female point of view in a neighborhood characterized by gossiping housewives who shame their friends at times they should be supportive. The women in the book are judgmental but are bound by the unspoken constraints of their society – lead by their successful husbands. This shows very clearly that the grass is not always greener on the more affluent side of town.

For Cece who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, believed to be inherited from her mother, this environment is toxic and leads to her becoming unwell because she cannot conform to the rigid expectations set by those around her. At a time when she should be surrounded by friends and family, she has nobody to turn to. It highlights important issues in the affluent community as to why the women are not there for each other and the pressure of maintaining a perfect home life and family. This is something we all know to be impossible, yet people still strive for it anyway. It also raises the question as to why Cece cannot speak to anyone about her mental health. In the book, she does not once have a therapeutic conversation about it, and her condition is only seen as a bother to her family. Her friends seem unaware of her mental health problem and just think that she has migraines.

A theme that runs throughout the book is the importance of parental influence on their children. Cece grew up witnessing her mother’s erratic and unusual actions and her children now have similar behaviour. They also see her love for expensive material possessions and become spoiled – so much so that she even indulges their unhealthy habits which lead to danger and illness. They won’t even get the bus, which Cece and her husband admit with a tone of regret. Her children are spoiled but her and her husband are no better.

The book follows Cece as she tries to get her own back on her husband who has shacked up with his young assistant. At times it’s uncomfortable reading and really unsettles the reader as you question just who’s fault this all is. There are moments of danger, humor, and emotional turmoil which keep the reader engaged and invested in the book all the way through.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B01B0XMC24

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Conservative Views 101 Plus

Conservative Views 101 Plus by [Gall, Alex]

Life is more difficult now than it was a few years ago. More and more people have to work multiple jobs just to stay above water. Utilities cost more than they used to and money is losing value. By the time one receives their salary, it’s already spent. With high trade deficits and national debts, people have much less purchasing power. What is happening now that was not happening before? How have we gotten to this point? What conversations do we need to have to change things? How can there be more employment opportunities? How can the citizens live to work as opposed to working to live?

Alex Gall has produced a well-written account of everything people should be saying but will not. The language used in the book is strong but not abrasive and drives the point home effectively and firmly. The authors passion and commitment to the subject matter is commendable and infectious. I consider myself to be an average citizen, I read the occasional hot headline. But this book made me look a little further, and a little deeper, and find something that was shocking and appealed to the citizen in me. This book is delivered from the point of view of a concerned citizen painting a picture, a person who is inviting others to a well thought out and open conversation.

I would appreciated more references of source material because, as stated previously, this book will leave you digging for more information and getting more involved in politics. Some statistics or studies to back up the subject matter would have been appreciated. This book is well researched and is laid out in an easy to follow manner in a compact and readily available format. At times I felt the content a bit dense, or maybe the topics overwhelming. I had to put the book down and think about what I just read. This book certainly causes one to reflect. But once you come out of your reflection, once you put the book down, you will come away with an overriding need to do something.

There are some sensitive topics covered but the author uses a neutral approach which is inviting. His approach to the subjects is completely ‘take it or leave it’. This is one of the best qualities of this book. The fact that the author lays out his position without dragging people with him. The intensity of the book and the truth in the subject matter will carry you effortlessly.

This book does a fantastic job of starting a serious and necessary conversation. This is necessary for anyone who wants to be an informed citizen.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B079YP7LGM

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Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy

Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by [Lee, Canaa]

Before you read my review of Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by Canaa Lee, you should know that I am one of those strange people who really enjoy a good Algebra problem. I have always loved Algebra, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on a book about Algebra for review purposes. I am also a homeschooling parent so I am always interested in textbooks, especially those that incorporate new methods of learning. This book did not disappoint.

Lee is a high school math teacher who conceived of the idea for this book while she was working at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. She was a math teacher given the task of figuring out how to incorporate reading and literacy into her math class. To do this, she would find several topics in her class that shared a theme and try to build a story around them in order to teach them together. The book relies heavily on building an ongoing story throughout the entire course in order to help students retain knowledge and follow along as they shift from one concept to another. As someone right in the midst of teaching Algebra, I think this is a brilliant concept.

Lee wanted to demonstrate to her students that Algebra could be demystified and could become more than just a jumble of numbers and letters. This is especially important in some urban environments where the population is largely poor and underrepresented when it comes to education. Test results from many urban areas prove this time and again. I also know from teaching my own children (who hate math) that making the concepts of Algebra clearer can be a daunting task. Incorporating these concepts into stories can get through to students who simply don’t learn from numbers alone.

The book covers a plethora of relevant and important topics: equations, inequalities, absolute value, graphing, slope, ordered pairs, slope-intercept form, relations, functions, statistics, ratios, proportions, rate of change, compound inequalities, geometry, perimeter, area, surface area, volume, factoring, quadratic equations, quadratic trinomials, parabolas, domain, range, vertex, vertical stretch, horizontal stretch, horizontal shift, polynomials, monomials, binomials, trinomials, leading coefficients, and discriminants. It was very thorough. The author provides ample practice problems throughout the book. She also makes it very clear how the problems relate to every day life. I found it very relatable and relevant.

I would rate the book a 4 on a 5-point scale. Providing a supplement with an answer key to check the answers after doing the problems would definitely move it up to a 5. This is a book I would use in teaching my own children when we run across a particularly troubling concept. Lee has made math relatable for people who might have trouble.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B0792VFC1W

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I am Still a Rose: In Spite of it All

I am Still a Rose: In Spite of it All by [Barbee, Tonya]

Tonya Barbee’s memoir, I am Still a Rose, details the struggle of a modern woman to find stability and true love for herself and her ever growing family. This book is Tonya’s version of events of her childhood, tumultuous love life and her change of heart. She has written this aiming to promote a healthy understanding and level of accountability for bad relationships and to educate women, young and old, about the dangers of unhealthy partnerships.

The book is refreshing to read. It’s a text about relationship struggle that does not place all of the blame on the male perpetrator or plead for sympathy from the readers. It is actually written in a very matter-of-fact and frank tone. Even when there are episodes with heightened emotion, which often occur in life, they certainly seem to have been written with a clear head.

One of the most prominent themes is the importance of family and motherhood. Tonya seems to rate her confidence in her weddings based on how many of her family turn up, and she is always grateful for the help her family, particularly her mother, provides in times of need – when she cannot rely on her current husband. Throughout her adult life she always does her best to provide for her children and stresses the importance of financial stability, which she did not have when she was growing up. Even when she suffers periods of illness and relationship breakdown, she still goes to work and earns a living for her family. She choses each man believing they will be beneficial for her children, as well as herself, always wanting to complete her family.

Due to her hard-working attitude, she represents female empowerment. She is the only constant parent in her children’s lives, despite her efforts. None of the fathers come to visit the children so she has to be both mom and dad. She even makes sacrifices for children that aren’t hers – as she wants her children to know their siblings. Whatever trouble comes her way she always bounces back, ready to conquer the next hurdle. Throughout her many relationships and responsibilities, she continues to climb the ladder at work and gain qualifications.

Tonya clearly explains that she takes responsibility for not listening to her gut instincts and the mistakes she has made and works to overcome them. Admitting this takes guts, and to admit it publicly and open yourself up to the world in writing takes bravery and pride. She uses her life experience with the view to educate women and to encourage them to listen to their own and their family’s instincts. She wants women to trust themselves enough to make bold decisions and to go it alone if they have to, because she knows they are more than capable.

She might not have had the fairy tale ending like she wanted, but did end up with a great sense of pride and independence and a very strong bond with her children and family.

Pages: 159 | ASIN: B07DSTYFWR

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Undercurrents in Time

Undercurrents in Time: Book 2 of the Detours in Time series by [Schloesser Canepa, Pamela]

With Undercurrents in Time, Pamela Schloesser-Canepa offers readers a second novel in the saga of Professor Milton Braddock and Tabitha, his assistant turned wife. While the characters and time-traveling adventures in Undercurrents may feel familiar to readers, the novel is completely different from its predecessor when it comes to themes and plot action. Undercurrents is a well-written, thoughtful, and emotional work, lacking only in that it must be compared to Detours, which created such a fantastic series of adventures between a vibrant pair of protagonists that it is hard to match.

Set two years after Detours, Undercurrents’ present-day is set in 1999 as citizens prepare for Y2K, which will certainly elicit a laugh from readers of a certain age. The novel once again focuses on the dynamic duo of Milt, a quintessential frazzled scientist, and Tabitha, now his wife and mother of their son, Peter. The novel focuses this time, though, on Tabitha much more than Milt, which will likely disappoint some readers yet delight others. A new mother, Tabitha is understandably feeling overwhelmed as she tries to balance being a good mother and wife with her desire for independence – oh, and don’t forget that there’s a time-traveling car tempting her in the garage. Schloesser-Canepa follows Tabitha as she sets off on some of her own adventures to try to understand what will happen to her family in the future and to attempt to thwart the sinister Dr. George Mahoney, a rival to Milt who was introduced in Undercurrents. As in Detours of Time, Schloesser-Canepa dedicates a balanced amount of time on both action and emotion, as she skillfully lets readers into Milt and Tabitha’s psyches, yet never bore, and always has a surprise waiting around the next page.

Undercurrents in Time is full of interesting futuristic characters and quick witted dialogue, but fans of Schloesser-Canepa’s earlier novel may miss the charming yet somewhat awkward Milt, as Tabitha ventures alone in much of the story. However, Schloesser-Canepa introduces several characters who are begging for a novel of their own, including the mysterious Ellie, who I will not describe at the risk of revealing too much, and the hired actor Malachi, whose coolness is undeniably intriguing.

Readers who have not read the first installment, Detours in Time, may feel a little lost upon occasion, as Schloesser-Canepa does not spend much time rehashing the past (or future, depending on how you look at it! This is a science fiction novel, after all…), so I recommend reading Detours before beginning Undercurrents.

Schloesser-Canepa closes this novel saying she does not anticipate a third installment in the series. While Undercurrents in Time came to a natural close, it felt almost as if it ended with a fizzle, and readers of both Milt and Tabitha novels are certainly craving a bang. As a standalone novel, Undercurrents in Time is a very thoughtful, enjoyable, and unique combination of science fiction and motherhood. But, when read as a sequel to the fast-paced Detours in Time, it may leave some readers craving more high-speed journeys into the future. But, who knows – maybe Tabitha and Milt will delight readers with a surprise reappearance down the line in other stories by Schloesser-Canepa. You never know what the future will hold!

Pages: 299 | ASIN: B07DCCQS3N

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Caution to the Wind

She and her partner answered the call of the sea. They wanted to heed to the breeze and sway to the wind. Such was the image of what would be expected of the sojourn. The reality was different. Marred with seasickness, a faulty water trap, uncooperative winds, and even loss of a crew member, Lin and Geoff were in for the ride of their lives. So many hurdles thrown into their plans and expectations. Frequently doubting their plans. Getting on each other’s nerves at some point. This is an outline of the journey from New Zealand to England. With an unexpected end, this story is one of a kind.

In Caution to the Wind the author does not leave even the bad parts untold. If you are going to tell a story, tell the whole of it. That is what Linda Ford has done. She has given the reader an inside view into her adventure. Her passion for the sea is evident in her narration. However, she does not let her expertise boggle the reader’s mind. She tells her story in simple language. Even providing a glossary in the back which will come in handy because this book is immersive.

Linda has quite the writing skill. Her descriptions are vivid which is perfect for the many picturesque scenes that this story sails into. The book is fairly short and can be read in one siting. From the first page, I was taken with Lin and Geoff, and did not want to put the story down until the end. The author clearly knows how to capture the readers attention.

You know when you walk up to a group of people having a conversation and it takes you a little while to catch up? That is the feeling one might experience in the beginning. The first chapter sort of starts in the middle. It feels like there should have been something before that first chapter. However, you will catch on quickly to the flow of the story.

The chapters are really short and lends to the idea that this is more of a journal with the chapters being akin to journal entries of sorts, but I was left wanting a bit more structure to allow me to be immersed in this fantastic story even further.

Some talk about bravery. Others talk about going for it. This story is inspiring in it’s ability to unveil a story that captures both of these things. I mean if Lin and Geoff can stand against treacherous weather at sea for months with overlapping disappointments, surely no goal is too ambitious. This book will have you on the edge of your seat then it will have you off that seat going after whatever that goal is that you set aside. The story is one big adventurous metaphor for the way to live life.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 0648164756

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Tainted Evidence: A Lieutenant Beaudry Novel


Imagine just having gotten back from vacation only to find out your best friend’s cousin has been murdered.

This is what greeted Lieutenant Beaudry, a renowned but controversial officer who isn’t particular in living by the police handbook. He is known to solve cases by his own rules. Will he make sure not to ruin it this time after his recent dispute? Or will he tamper the evidence just like his close friend Nico did after seeing his cousin motionless in his car.

Tainted Evidence by Michael Kent could seem like your typical murder novel except that in this story the professional assassin knows the art of prosthetics, perfectly disguising himself and surpassing immigration officers. He also makes his murders seem accidental. Nobody is suspicious until an officer was present in court when the judge suddenly lost consciousness, and later on, his life.

I liked the plot, as it stayed close enough to reality to be believable and there weren’t too many tangled lies and deceit to unravel. The descriptions of scenes are so detailed that even my imagination played it in my head with vivid clarity. Michael Kent is able to offer picture perfect scenes for his superb characters to inhabit.

My favorite character in Tainted Evidence has to be Pat. The book depicted her as an independent woman who successfully came out from an undesirable marriage. She had a struggle with her ex-husband but managed to break free, started over, recovered until becoming fully independent. I admired how she took charge of her own new life, not being discouraged by her

past, and being able to live alone and even choosing the house she and Beaudry would live in. She is a perfect epitome of a strong woman in this day and age. As fierce as her character seems, she did maintain her soft side by being as understanding as possible to Beaudry’s hectic schedule.

I also appreciated the inclusion of Jimmy, an autistic boy with exceptional photographic memory and drawing skills. I applaud the fact that his talent has been highlighted instead of his lack of social skills. I think this is a good example of Michael Kent writing, he always plays to a characters strengths.

Interesting characters and a fascinating murder mystery will give any fan of the mystery crime genre plenty to enjoy.

Pages: 220 | ISBN: 0993713165

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Kill the Teachers: Mexico’s Bloody Repression of Human Rights

Kill the Teachers: Mexico's Bloody Repression of Human Rights by [Stout, Robert Joe]

Terrifyingly gritty is the world within Kill the Teachers: Mexico’s Bloody Repression of Human Rights by Robert Joe Stout. Reader will not find a kind world in this historical retelling of events from the not-so-distant past. Corruption, suppression and oppression are what wait for readers within these pages. It is important to read about the past in order to learn from it: to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes again. However, learning is not the same for everyone. The brutal history of Oaxaca, Mexico is what readers are going to find themselves thrown into within this book. This small area that has never quite advanced with the rest of the country where dangerous men with big ideas crushed the spirits of those who lived there. Sometimes even ending their lives.

This book is a carefully researched and written recounting of life in Oaxaca. There are interviews with those directly in attendance of the rallies and demonstrations those who wanted reform. These first-hand accounts bring home the reality of what people were facing in this tiny state. Stout crafts his retelling of the events in his novel in easily digestible chunks. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the history, politics and subterfuge in books like this. Those who are not history buffs may be turned off by the content at first, thinking it too dense for their enjoyment. They’re not wrong, as a lot of information is covered in this book. This is not something you pick up to read while relaxing in the backyard.

That being said, the layout and the formatting of the book are reader-friendly. The chapters are peppered with quotes from interviews and the content is presented in a way that makes it easy for readers to absorb the information they are reading without feeling like they signed up for an intensive history course. The data is dense, but it is not difficult as it flows like a novel would. It is not dry and boring.

It is easy to see that Stout had a competent editor as the errors in grammar and style are minute. It is not easy to share the fragmented history to a world that is not familiar with its roots. Stout appeals to the reader in such a way that learning happens naturally.

Those who are looking for a political or historical thriller will find their needs met with Kill the Teachers: Mexico’s Bloody Repression of Human Rights by Robert Joe Stout as he shares the non-fiction reality of Oaxaca, Mexico. This is the real-life story of a state that has a bloody history. At times, this information is devastating to read, especially when the reader realizes that this did not take place hundreds of years ago, but within the last half-century. However, this truth is something that we should not avert our eyes from, but learn from instead.

Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07C883C1S

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