Category Archives: Four Stars

The Warramunga’s War

The Warramunga's War by [Kater, Greg]

The Warramunga’s War is a book that follows the Australian Army’s advances in the Middle East and Egypt. The main character, Jamie, is saved by an officer Jacko, who’s half aborigine warramunga. The book leads the reader through an adventure with Jamie and Jacko in the forefront, as they conduct counterespionage and work with real historical figures. They form a close friendship and work together to solve various missions. During their stay in Cairo, Jack and Jamie manage to work against German spies and continue the war effort onto their home turf after their job is done in Egypt. Jacko’s skills come into play near the final leg of the duo’s journey, needing to track down two wartime German Agents in West Australia.

The author describes events in vivid detail throughout the book. Greg Kater ensures the reader is taken through an action filled adventure full of twists, turns, and suspense with lighthearted moments throughout to provide moments of respite. One of these moments was at the beginning, where Jamie was unconscious and had a humorous moment with Jacko and a French nurse. The author also shows ample character development with our duo, showing how they evolve both in strength of friendship and their synergy with each other. They grow as friends and evolve to become better soldiers as well, and this evolution was something that was consistently interesting to me. I felt the part where Jamie develops a romance with someone added depth and emotion to an already well developed character. They seem to gain some level of experience from who they work with as well. Speaking of those people, the author’s level of dedication to research shows as well, with many areas being accurately described. The people he represents in the book are true to their original character and accomplishments.

While I enjoyed the narrative and the characters, I felt that the pacing, was inconsistent and sometimes abrupt. There is a part in the book where we’re zoomed into the future, which threw me off. Other than that small issue, The Warramunga’s War is an amazing read which shows a lot of spirit and has a unique take on old events.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B07NJZFVJX

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Cecilia House

Cecilia House by [Gandossi, Simon]

Cecilia House by Simon Gandossi is a heart-wrenching retelling of a girl’s stolen adolescence. From the very first page, the author creates a gripping air of suspense and it sparks a desire to understand what happened in the past leading up to the initial scene. We are introduced to Ruth, who is going through her recently deceased mother’s belongings and comes across a revelation that has her reeling. Her mother, after suffering the loss of her entire family, ended up in an orphanage that did nothing to help her heal from her trauma but instead made it all worse. The only consolation is that from the perspective given, you know her mother survived. However, while she goes through the trauma, it is all consuming.

The best thing about the book is that the author created such a compelling main character that it was easy to be captivated by her and sympathize with her plight. I was able to go through all of her changing emotions with her and even grow with her as the years progressed.

At times, the language of the novel was somewhat simplistic but this seemed to be more of a reflection of the character at the time. The characters were well developed and as dramatic as the events were in the book, it was all very realistic. At the same time, the subject matter was presented with a certain level of detachment that kept me continuously engaged as opposed to being overwhelmed by the events. The themes of family and friendship were prominent throughout the novel. The concept of chosen families also played a significant undercurrent role.

I like that the author didn’t strive to portray any unrealistic future whether unrealistically positive or unrealistically negative. Overall, Cecilia House was an extraordinary read, with a gripping ending.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07YNH1VXT

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Cycles of the Phoenix

Cycles of the Phoenix: The Whole Interlaced Souls Series by [Nicholas, C.A.]

Cycles of the Phoenix is a series of three books by C. A. Nicholas including Sanity’s War, Strange and Kaya: Where Have You Been. All stories that explore the human condition. The stories told by the author are sad and exciting in equal measure. They deliver different emotions for the reader at different turns. These are unique stories told sincerely and from a  provocative perspective by a father and daughter duo.

The stories touch on impassioned emotions such as betrayal, sexual abuse, trauma, mental illness, and violence. These ideas are captured by the humanity of the characters in the story, and shows how people hide behind facades and smile through the pain. The stories are told with an easy but expressive voice, making it feel as though each character was created as a metaphor with the intention of provoking thought. These stories took me a while to figure out. However, when I did I appreciated the nuances as well as the spirit of the prose.

Cycles of the Phoenix is not the kind of book you read as you wait for your coffee order. This book feels like it has a mind of its own. It feels like the characters are driving the story. Like C. A. Nicholas was merely the vessel for the story. The characters and the stories each have different voices. It feels like the author is constantly changing tack. There is so much emotion tucked in every line. This book is not afraid to delve right into the pits of human turmoil. It is the kind of book that goes as deep and as far as it needs to.

You may find yourself having trouble going past the first chapter. However, the further you go the more rewarded you will be by this strange but brilliant literary experience that hurdles you along an emotional roller-coaster. Take your time with this novel, and you will love it.

Pages: 306 | ASIN: B07RKSD7L8

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Endless Incarnation Sorrows

Endless Incarnation Sorrows: A Spiritual Odyssey of Mortal Imprints on Earth by [Mann, Lucia]

Endless Incarnation Sorrows: A Spiritual Odyssey of Mortal Imprints on Earth is inspired by a true story. The reader gets to experience life through riveting main characters whose distinct roles are revealed one by one. Lala, daughter of Rebekah bas Sora, and Hassam, son of Mohammed el-Din, gets to, unfortunately, undergo suffering due to the sins committed by her mother. Lyveva, a lovable character who enjoyed good relationships, battles abductors, arises victorious and gets to be recognized as a solid healer. The other main character was Lucja, who I was easily able to empathize with. The story of Lucja is mostly told from an enclosed Auschwitz. This place smells of slavery and dissoluteness. Every character was distinct and allowed me to view the story from different angles.

The story is narrated throughout different years and I like how well-defined life was for each of the generations, and how the reader can easily notice the differences. Lala was an unlucky character. Her birth was considered ill-fated since Rebekah, her mother had an atrocious union. It is such a disgrace that some women in the book had to suffer for things that were considered sins. Lala was born in the deserts of Judea and experiences some extreme struggles. Through the lives of such women, the author shows us how unfair life can be and how women endure affliction just to exist. The stories about the women are melancholic and somber, but their resilience inspires hope.

The author narrates every historical tale with ease, giving credence to the impression of a true story. Lucia Mann’s style of description is fluid and rich and engages the reader throughout the narration. Lucy Mann is able to make the reader pause and reflect with some dramatic and emotional turn of events. She takes you through extreme experiences and makes one understand that life can be complex sometimes. I loved reading the thought-provoking parts of the book as they helped me view life as it is in a different cultures. Reincarnation is a major topic in the book, and the exploration will make you question life as it is and the purpose of living.

Endless Incarnation Sorrows: A Spiritual Odyssey of Mortal Imprints on Earth is an excellent book for readers that love engaging literature possessing depth and intelligence. The conversations in the book are fresh, the lessons immense, and we see how women can be superhuman.

Pages: 255 | ASIN: B08222HXKQ

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Dark Times

Dark Times (EuroSec Corporation) by [Gerhartz, Michael]

In Dark Times Michael Gerhartz explores the delicate yet sadly relevant organ trade problem. In this fascinating novel readers get a glance into the complicated and cruel organ trade business. The narrative is constantly changing its perspective, from the lucky recipient to the doomed donor while following the incredible adventures of the engrossing main character, Natascha.

Michael Gerhartz creates a globe-trotting and energetic crime drama that is full of unexpected twists and deadlt turns. I felt that there was a focus on painting the bigger picture while discounting the details. The overall plot was engaging and stimulating, but at times I felt like the characters were acting against their own principles because a certain act was required to propel the plot. While Natascha was a stand out character to me, she was so well constructed that other characters felt underdeveloped in comparison. The personality that is exhibited by the characters is exceptional and authentic but I wanted to see more of it. This story reminds me of Pulp Fiction, where many smaller plots and character stories all interweave to make one complex story. Although this keeps the tension high and kept me flipping pages, it could be hard to follow at times. I enjoyed the way in which the author portrays security companies and the human face he gives to people working in Masad.

I can confidently say that I had a great time reading Dark Times by Michael gerhartz. The story is perfect for readers who like to follow clues to solve intriguing mysteries. Dark Times reminds me of Tom Clany’s Jack Ryan where agents embark on clandestine and deadly missions to overcome a terror menacing the world. Perfect for readers who embrace a bit of romance in their action adventure stories.

Pages: 738 | ASIN: B07MTQ9YWC

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The Wrath of Leviathan

The Wrath of Leviathan (The BetterWorld Trilogy Book 2) by [Weber, T.C.]

The Wrath of Leviathan is the second book in the BetterWorld Trilogy. In this book, the T.C. Weber artistically creates characters that are both enchanting and entertaining. The reader follows through the trials and tribulations of characters who, despite the evil of the world, fight to make things right. One is taken through insane and sometimes creepy locations that require the characters to be intelligent, keen on their surroundings and witty to survive. The Wrath of Leviathan covers various themes that are relevant in the real world. Political wars, state prisoners, cyber-crime, government relations, family and freedom are some of the major themes in the book. The pros and cons of technology unfold in the story as we follow characters who use their power to manipulate situations.

The reader experiences the turmoil and chaos created by individuals whose greed only gets crushed by people who have a conscience. Waylee Freid is in custody for acts the U.S government considers crimes. The good lady is charged with conspiracy, fraud, theft, assault, trespassing, and cyber crimes among many other offenses. I like how the author developed Waylee. Even with the alleged crimes, Waylee came out as a character whose aggression was necessary for her survival. Waylee was imprisoned in Sao Paolo, Brazil by the U.S government, something that bothered her sister Kiyoko. I liked Kiyoko as a character because of how passionate she was about the causes she cared about. Miranda Rossi’s character was too real, I could not picture her in any other role other than the Sao Paulo Bureau Chief, Department for Human Rights and Social Affairs. She understood her job and tried to be courteous every time.

The Wrath of Leviathan is packed with blustering adventure. Kiyoko and her squad were my favorite. Their dedication to fighting evil, and exposing and destroying MediaCorp’s plan to take over the world made the group easy to empathize with and root for. MediaCorp is almost the cliched villainous corporation with dangerous intentions and malign motivations. The yin and yang between MediaCorp and Kiyoko’s team is starkly drawn and I appreciated how easily it was to align with these characters.

I was thoroughly entertained following this inviting tale that engagingly handles trade agreements among countries, political affiliations, government operations, the lives of activists and hackers, and rebellion. T.C. Weber makes every piece of the story exhilarating as he pits well developed characters against well developed gambits. One constant thing throughout the book was the continuous action that was smartly placed to keep the story moving. Every new chapter unveils something new about the characters and a new twist to the story. I recommend The Wrath of Leviathan to readers who enjoy thrillers, cyberpunk science fiction and adventure books.

Pages: 288 | ASIN:  B07GJVHMQS

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Cries of the Forsaken

Cries of the Forsaken (The Broken Pact Book 2) by [Jerome, Kristopher]

The pieces are on the move. As one moves against the other, readers may wonder who is pulling whom and to what end? Does divinity mean the essence of purity or simply the chalice overflowing with power? Cries Of The Foresaken by Kristopher Jerome is a story full of twists and turns that will keep you hooked from beginning to end!

Normally I am very particular about fantasy worlds as many books start well but fail to keep it coherent throughout the story. That is not the case with Cries Of The Foresaken. Even though I realized a bit later that this is book one in a series, I didn’t mind it for two reasons. One, the story started strong and it kept me glued. Two, the author did not try to place undue focus on the background but kept the story well bound to a few characters. As I progressed through the book, I was not disappointed with the turns and twists that I never saw coming. The book is consistently engaging and sometimes there were twists where I didn’t even expect there to be one.

The other thing that I liked about this book was that the author did not try to make it a colossal work like the Tolkien series or the ones by George RR Martin. I prefer a book which does not conform to the stereotypes and is different from the rest. While Cries Of The Foresaken has room to expand, it’s not forced.

I felt that some of the characters were too rushed and I had to turn back to see previous pages. Some things get explained in the course of the series and characters are fully developed, but in this book alone, I felt, the characters were a bit hollow. One thing that I thought slowed the pace was a pause in the middle as the characters were pursuing side missions. Lastly, I felt that the ending was a bit too rushed, leaving too many open threads to tie up. This being part of a series I expect these will be tied up before the series finale, but I still felt the this novel on it’s own did provide me with a satisfying ending.

Cries Of The Foresaken is an exciting and riveting book that is an entertaining read and definitely in the top 10 books that I have read in 2019.

Pages: 299 | ASIN: B07YLC6JNY

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The Haunting of Smock Hill

The Haunting of Smock Hill by [Zimcosky, Steve]

The Haunting of Smock Hill by Steve Zimcosky is a short but fast-paced thriller about the peculiar ongoings in the town of Smock, Pennsylvania. Ed Zielinski our protagonist is from Smock Hill. He is informed that The Dark Energy has returned for the first time since 1961. The Dark Energy is allegedly a daunting black cloud with red eyes and massive arms that shows up to stare at miners a few moments before their death. Having enlisted a paranormal investigator, Ed visits the town, and, with the help of a few friends, finds out that a deeper and more nefarious plot is at play. Their investigation is met with various complications, from Russian meddling to movie production crews. The story takes plenty of wild turns and ends on a climactic but satisfying note.

Although the plot is a simplistic mystery story, Scooby-Doo style, it is written in a gripping and engaging manner. I polished it off in one sitting, which is probably what it is intended for. The story is realistic and logical, and easy to follow. I felt that the characters were two-dimensional, with some having more depth than others, but this is in service of delivering a quick and satisfying story.

The book is also interspersed with a lot of spooky pictures and illustrations, which can make this a pretty fun read for children. Smock Hill is great for a weekend or holiday read, when you need an engaging story to brighten up your day without signing up for a hefty literary commitment.

Pages: 90 | ASIN: B081BG5YH9

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Realm

Realm by [Weis, Alexandrea]

Realm familiarizes the reader with another side of Alexander the Great that not many are familiar with. Alexander the Great is viewed as a conqueror and a hero in the mainstream world. The concentration is often placed on his triumphs, while his weaknesses are almost always overlooked. Realm exposes you to more than the basic history of Greek Kingdoms. The Greek icon makes a good part of the plot but the main focus is on Roxana.

Roxana is something akin to the girl next door in modern-day times. Leading a simple life dedicated to her family. Roxana’s father was a chieftain, which earned him some level of respect. After Alexander invades her home, and the Greek conqueror tries to get acquainted with her father, Roxana meets Alexander the Great.

The author is able to artistically develop each character so that you can easily empathize with them. The character development in this story is something that I truly appreciated as they all continue to change and develop as the story progresses. Alexandrea Weis’s characters are intriguingly diverse and meticulously developed.

Roxana was a beauty that was admired in her homeland. That is one of the many things that attracts Alexander to her. Her beauty aside, Roxana is dynamic and posses an emotional depth that I rarely see in characters. She was of mixed race, something that was not common. Alexander ultimately took Roxana as his wife despite the girl being against the idea of leaving her family behind. The book is fascinating to follow as one not only enjoys reading about ancient Greek history but we’re also treated to a view of ancient life from a perspective that is not often explored. I was not ready for the turbulence that would accompany Roxana after the marriage. Realm is an emotional roller coaster that is both raw and engaging.

One could feel the bride’s emotions through Alexandrea Weis narration. We hear about Alexander’s other women, Roxana’s struggles as she tries to keep up with her husband’s status especially during battles, and dealing with her self-esteem. Even with the challenges in the marriage, one could still see that Alexander the Great loved his wife. I loved that trait in him. Through Roxana, we see how impactful the strength of a woman can be. The girl from Persia had a few moments where she seemed to be falling off but pushed on and beat all odds. I appreciate the author’s portrayal of women in the book. Morella was among the most captivating characters in Realm. I enjoyed reading Realm and would recommend it to readers who enjoy well developed historical fiction with heart-wrenching romance.

Pages: 483 | ASIN: B07NQC9RSY

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Experiment X: Revolt

Experiment X: Revolt by [Haase, Nikki]

Experiment X: Revolt by Nikki Haase is a dystopian science fiction novel about the lives of the Subjects, creatures with special powers that were created in the Lab. These Subjects realized they were being manipulated by the malicious and charming Doctor James Thaddeus who has the ulterior motive of creating his own army and ruling the world. Once these Subjects have escaped and are out in the real world, they soon realize it is no longer a battle of Subjects vs Thaddeus. Rather, due to Thaddeus’ connivance, the whole world views them with suspicion and judgement. After a botched mission, the media furthers the fear mongering surrounding this group. However, if they wish to save the ones they love, they must find a way to take down this despot.

At the center of all this is the narrator Karen. She offers a wonderful window into the lives of the Subjects: their anxieties and discomfort in this world that they are unaccustomed to. The plot, which follows the superheroes as they are framed for wrongdoing by a charming sociopath, is well-executed and moves at the perfect pace. It’s not a series of jam-packed action scenes. Rather it takes the time to develop characters and their complex dynamics. However, the narrative was not at all difficult to latch on to.

If you missed any of the previous books in this series, starting here would be like starting any of the Marvel movies midway: even if it’s a lot of names and superpowers to remember, you can pretty much immediately understand what is going on.

The perspectives of different people throughout the story were explored very well. The Subjects were a believable bunch in a realistic situation. Even though it’s a premise that’s worn thin, I was able to empathize with nearly every Subject’s flaws and troubles. Although Thaddeus was a bit two dimensional, the sheer amount of negativity with which he was portrayed made up for any sympathy I may have had left.

Experiment X: Revolt is a quick, fun read for anyone who is into the likes of the Marvel and DC cinematic universe. Even if you’re not, it’s great for a thrilling adventure fantasy.

Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07L7WJ7K5

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