Category Archives: Four Stars

Hotel Pennsylvania

Hotel Pennsylvania (The DreamCatchers Book One) by M.G. Pappas is a children’s fantasy fiction book about a group of young teenagers who go on a vacation with their families to a hotel in Pennsylvania. It seems like a normal trip until they are looking at pictures at the end of the weekend and notice an unknown boy in one of the images. Who is he? Why didn’t they see him when they were taking the picture? The group returns to the same hotel the next weekend to try to discover the boy’s identity. But the truth about Keanu is almost impossible to believe.

The book was a quick read, and it had an interesting premise. I enjoyed the supernatural element in the story with several of the kids having various abilities. The story didn’t go the way I was anticipating. After the mention of the hotel’s age and Nicole thinking that it might be haunted when they first arrived, I thought that Keanu would turn out to be a ghost. It was surprising to learn the truth, and I liked that the author took the story in an unexpected direction. I also liked how the kids worked together to solve the mystery of Keanu’s identity.

The crossword puzzle at the end of the book was fun to complete, with answers that were learned by reading the story.

I enjoyed this book immensely but I felt that there was room for improvement.  There was a big focus on social media in the beginning, which was realistic, but not interesting to read about. The narrative sometimes jumped between past and present tense, the story felt rushed in places I would have like more detail, and the kids dialogue seemed a bit stilted at times.

This book is a good example of how interesting characters can really make a story. Put them in interesting situations and you have my undivided attention.

In Book One, Keanu can teleport to other places anywhere in the world, and this is different from the other books in the Dreamcatchers series. Book Two, Cruise to the Past, has the kids traveling back in time, and Book Three, A Chase Through Time, is a story featuring time travel to the future. I like that each book in the series has a unique element to it.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: B078MPTLQY

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Operation Sustainable Human

Operation Sustainable Human: A four-step scientific guide to combat climate change (high impact made simple) by [Macdonald, Chris]

Climate change is affecting every country in the world. It is a global problem. Therefore it is the responsibility of every human being in the world to help with the crisis. Operation Sustainable Human outlines three significant truths about climate change. The first being that human beings have caused the adverse climate change being experienced right now. This book is a simple guide to human action. It takes a step away from complicated and inefficient actions and focuses on simpler more manageable ways to impact climate change and the fight to save the planet.

Chris Macdonald has made an important observation. You usually cannot make a meaningful contribution to save the planet unless you have lots of money to donate to the cause or lots of time to dedicate to the cause. The situation on the ground is different. Even people with full time jobs and can barely make ends meet will feel a need to save the planet. This guide is for such people. The author presents a unique point of view to a complex problem.

There is a simplicity to this book that one would not expect but is very well appreciated. The author addresses the problem in simple language. The reader gets to consume material in a way that lets them understand both the message and the intensity of it. The book is also quite short making it easier to revert back to from time to time. This is ideal for a guide. You can always revisit it to see where you are on the actions suggested. The material is very well researched and has a strong basis in science.

This list is supposed to be about doable things, but some of them don’t feel this way. A good example of this is action item number 4. Changing the system has been on the forefront of things for a long time and is something easier said than done. For this particular action item, I felt that there was a lack of explanation on how it can be achieved. How would a regular individual stand up to the system and come out unscathed?

This is definitely a conversation worth having. If the word is spread wide enough then maybe action number 4 will not seem so daunting. If enough people see how complex the problem is and what the impact could be, they will start to understand that only humans hold the solution to the problem. This is a powerful book that is relevant book and essential. The more people read this, the better.

Pages: 77 | ASIN: B07XWVGPDQ

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Choose a Reality… Any Reality

Choose a reality....any reality by [Morfoboss, Emmanuel]

You will always be told to keep a positive outlook on things. It is possible for a person to change the trajectory of their own life by sheer will and determination. A person’s consciousness plays a big role in determining their relationship with the universe. This phenomenon has been talked about for eons. Rarely do people venture into the root of it to try and discern how it could be so. Emmanuel Morfoboss has used philosophical insight and scientific elements to analyze the idea that reality can be reformed or formed by consciousness.

Choose a Reality… Any Reality takes a unique path and brings a whole new method of preaching. The author has done a good job of decreasing the amount of qualitative elements by including science in the book. Through the various insights of some of the greatest philosophers, the reader will be gradually convinced that they truly bend the universe to their will, so to speak. While some faith and affirmations are present in the book, they are not as prominent as the science and philosophy.

This book has a personal touch as the author has written it in the first person narrative. You get to understand his motivation for wanting to explore this phenomenon. You get to see the progression from mere curiosity to seeking answers to the various questions. From this the reader can relate to the story and the author thus makes understanding the material a little easier. There is evidence of extensive research in science and philosophy as well as other related disciplines.

Short paragraphs and simple language adorn the pages of this book. Despite the subject being so heavy and complex, the writing and language are light and presented in easily digested bits. The prose is clean and crisp. While the material is fairly clear and presented with unrelenting diligence I think that the book can benefit from a good line editor. This is a complex subject. It has many layers to it and requires a lot of concentration. Therefore the reader has to be attentive right from the beginning lest they risk getting lost in the intricate web.

This book provides understanding of the universe and the need for constant positivity as a means of directing forces in the universe. It is an engaging book that imparts knowledge and wisdom. This book does not direct your life, it simply talks about the relationship between a person’s thoughts and the forces that impact their life.

Pages: 68 | ASIN: B07VMN51NP

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Phase Rider

Phase Rider: A LightLit® Book by [Levin, David]

Phase Rider, by David Levin, is a science-fiction novel intended for a young adult/teen audience, published by LightLit. That said, the skill of the writer makes it easy for just about anyone to appreciate the story that unfolds.

There are a lot of things to like about David Levin’s Phase Rider. As a science-fiction story, the futuristic technology that is integral to the story is so well developed that one might wonder how much of it was actually based in reality. Levin creates a world in which specialized space craft can travel many times the speed of light and cross vast distances of our universe in no time at all. Of course, capabilities like those open doors for numerous engaging story elements that were a lot of fun to read.

The plot is another positive point for Phase Rider. There are certainly no shortage of sci-fi books out there that deal with the possibility of total destruction of the human race but Levin manages to approach the topic from a unique angle that many will enjoy. Phase Rider is a well-crafted story that is able to easily develop an engaging plot line.

There are a few direct messages and moral life lessons that I always enjoy having embedded in a story; however, there are times where the message seems more important than the continuity of the story line, which creates a disconnect from the story in certain areas. It would have been better to hide the messages a bit more, as doing so would allow readers to ‘discover’ these elements on their own.

Phase Rider is a well-written book that possess its own unique qualities in a fairly saturated genre. The author finds ways to bring life and intrigue into otherwise dry topics. The well crafted characters in this story possess a sense of humanity I rarely see in other novels. Minor quibbles aside I was invested in this story until the very end because of the interesting characters and captivating plot. Levin has certainly created a book that will be enjoyed by many.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B07TX2T9MS

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Shirley F’N Lyle

Shirley F'N Lyle: VIVA the REVOLUTION by [Lindemuth, Clayton]

Shirley F’N Lyle: Viva the Revolution (Book One in Chick Grit Lit Series) by Clayton Lindemuth is a fiction story about a hooker named Shirley Lyle who is tired of being treated like she doesn’t matter, and she’s not going to take it anymore. She wants to be someone different, someone better. Viva the Revolution. She and her friend Ulyana, a stripper, have decided to make men pay for their actions. But things don’t go as planned, and the two women find themselves running from a drug dealer after they killed his son. The drug dealer isn’t the only person they have to worry about, however. When Ulyana disappears–possibly murdered–will Shirley be next?

There was a lot of action in this book, plus the mystery of Ulyana’s disappearance, which held my interest in the story. The story line was dark, but there was enough humor in the book to lighten it. I liked Dr. Kristanna Rong’s character and the encouragement she gave Shirley to make a change in her life. I was hoping for her to be a larger part of the story, but she only appeared in the beginning. I also liked that there was a slight romantic element with Donal O’Laughlin wanting to date Shirley rather than paying for her services.

I enjoyed reading the back and forth between Shirley and the “voices”  in her head as she argued with herself. Old Shirley versus Viva Shirley. Shirley’s imagination was very amusing, including her superwoman day dreams about making the men who had done her wrong pay for their treatment of her and other women.

But I felt like Shirley walked into a few situations that would have gotten her killed in real life, when her spunky attitude alone wouldn’t have saved her. Some of the descriptions of violence and injuries were a bit graphic and gory. Conversely, there were only minimal descriptions of the setting. I prefer books with vividly described settings that add depth to a story, which I felt it was lacking in this book. The beginning of this book was a bit confusing, switching between various points of view made it hard to figure out how everything was connected.

But overall Shirley F’N Lyle is a fantastically entertaining novel that puts interesting characters in interesting situations. The drama that ensues is enthralling and ultimately uplifting.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B07SMN6H3V

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Revealers and Revelations

Revealers and Revelations delves deep into the reach philosophy has on different things. The book begins with an exploration of some of the greatest philosophers of all time. It continues with a bit about the convergence of disciplines like medicine with philosophy. It then ends with an introduction of human nature and philosophy. Between all of this the book even untangles cancer and genes.

It has been said that philosophy is perhaps one of the most multi-dimensional disciplines out there. The good Doctor does a great job of presenting philosophy in the simplest language possible. This is usually a subject that baffles many as it is riddled with discombobulating elements. The ease with which the subject mater is presented in Revealers and Revelations is instrumental in enjoyi9ng the book as well as promoting participation in the reader. There is something to be said for an academic who is capable of making abstract ideas attainable for people who lack the training to understand technical language but possess boatloads of curiosity and interest.

Dr. Lakhwinder Singh Multani has taken time to comb through the work to ensure this book is well researched. The author’s own passion shines through. He chips in with his own opinions and beliefs lending the book a well appreciated personal touch which turns the reading experience into more of a conversation. Reading through, you get the feeling as the reader that your opinions would be welcome and embraced.

The cover is a silhouette with a sunset as the backdrop. It is beautiful and makes one curious about what is contained in the book. However, it may be a tad misleading. Maybe this is misplaced but most books with such covers tend to be religious which is not this book at all. The title, while fitting, may also feel a little simplistic to some considering the intensity of the subject matter. When you get down to it though, these do not take anything away from the book. It is still a necessary read for anyone who is looking to understand the world more.

Revealers And Revelations: A philosophic approach to scientific literature is an exceptional book that has wide appeal. The subject matter is compelling and the author’s style of writing is engaging and beguiling. It is a book dealing in a heavy subject matter but delivering it simply. It makes for a wonderful conversation starter.

Pages: 147 | ISBN: 938885585X

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The Lord of Long Shadows

The Lord of Long Shadows: Knights of the Fallen Realm: Book 1 by [Anderson, M.]

The Lord of Long Shadows – Knights of the Fallen Realm is an exciting read from a author M. Anderson that will please a wide variety of adventure seekers. The story is crafted with care with a surprising amount of depth making it easy to continue along with the characters while they search for answers and a better existence for the fallen human civilization. Each new chapter brings with it a fresh batch of interesting characters, new challenges, and settings to match. If you’re a fan of epic fantasy books that inspired and, in fact, formed this genre (Lord of the Rings comes to mind), you will likely enjoy The Lord of Long Shadows.

The story follows a young adult, Alex, who was orphaned at the tail end of her teenage years. With both parents gone, Alex was working hard to create a life for herself on her own. Alex was doing okay until she chanced upon a situation that catapulted her into another world: a world where the humans who once ruled the land are now merely sheep in a hierarchical system governed by a rich variety of demonic beings. Alex, having been blessed with powers unknown, now carries the unique responsibility to save the humans she has met. The driving question behind the story is whether she will be successful in her quest, with some events seeming utterly hopeless. Anderson does a solid job balancing out the action with the suspenseful elements of the storytelling, making it hard to tell how each new challenge will pan out.

There are certainly a lot of positives with The Lord of Long Shadows – Knights of the Fallen Realm.  Unfortunately, there were some typos throughout the book, which are not serious enough to hamper the story’s meaning, but they do pull you out of the world the author expertly pulls you into.

Things to look forward to while reading are a creative world full of interesting characters and situations. For a book of this length, the action and quick pace keep things moving at an engaging pace. If you don’t mind typos, there are a lot of reasons to like this story. With a bit of editing this would easily be a stand out novel. In any case, it’s highly recommended to any fantasy genre fan.

Pages: 274 | ASIN: B07WH4M3ZW

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Twisted Pines

Twisted Pines by [Baker, Lane]

Twisted Pines is an intriguing tale that utilizes elements from multiple genres to produce a unique effect on the reader. Mixing science fiction, thriller, mystery and action, this story unfolds in a mostly linear fashion while offering up a healthy dose of surprise twists and turns.

The plot of Twisted Pines centers around the experiences of a first-year film school student named Abe. After completing his first year at UCLA, he decides that taking a job as a summer camp counselor is a better option than going back to his hometown to spend the summer with his mother. Being a film student, he is on the lookout for a story and a story worth telling is certainly what he finds. The big question is, however, who will be the ones to hear his tale?

The narration provided by the protagonist helps the reader identify with him, the setting, and characters he becomes acquainted with at the summer camp, Mendocino Pines, as well as the premise that the story is built upon. Readers can easily relate with the well-crafted characters, plot and setting, as a result. As a perfect complement to the natural feel that the story provides, there is an ominous, otherworldly force intertwined with the protagonist’s story that provides most of the entertainment value of Twisted Pines.

The only small issue I had was that I felt like there was a lack of sensory cues in descriptions. I felt that there was a lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’, mostly because we’re in the ‘inner voice’ of the protagonist.

Otherwise, Lane Baker has crafted a wonderfully interesting story that is definitely worth a read. Written for young adults, Baker uses aspects of classic thrillers along with science fiction to craft a unique story. For readers who like to be surprised at the end of a novel as well as those who like a vivid storytelling style, Twisted Pines could very well be right up their isle.

Pages: 220 | ASIN:  B07VCC2GRB

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Neither Light Nor Dark

Neither Light Nor Dark is about the journey of a young girl, Lily, who unknowingly bears the weight of an immense prophecy. It is an immersive fantasy novel that takes us through the incredible lands of Arcadia. From her childhood, Lily’s own family has protected her from the secrets of a dark and tumultuous past. However, her destiny reveals itself soon enough. She has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of the loathsome Reficul. A ragtag group of friends follow her as they face troubles, misadventures, and battles.

This was an enjoyable and unique read because of the strange fairytale-like narration throughout. The descriptions of Arcadia and its elements were elaborate and fascinating. The characters and their dialogue appeared to be out of another era altogether. However, perhaps because of these anachronisms, the text was a bit dry in places. Nonetheless, the consistent tone and style were a refreshing break from contemporary reads.

The complex relationships between Henry, Calev, and Lily were also surprisingly well-navigated. I’m not the biggest fan of garish love triangles but I was able to perceive and accept the individual perspective of each character, which was refreshing. I was astonished at how quickly I was able to jump ship between characters without too many regrets. I was definitely rooting for some of the quirky personalities that were woven throughout the story.

From the beginning, the family dynamics in Lily’s world appear to play a big role in her life. The strained relationships between Lily and her grandmother was palpable from the beginning. It was clear that these dynamics and relationships were intricately crafted. However, at times, it was difficult to establish a connection with some of the characters. I think this was because the dialogue and style of the characters were a little less believable than I would prefer. This story does take place in an entirely different time and place, and it is not difficult to ascribe this issue to the nature of the story.

Neither Light Nor Dark is a fantastically enthralling read, and a perfect setup to a riveting fantasy series.

Pages: 234 | ASIN: B01LW35M4V

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Floating On Secrets

Floating on Secrets by [Bensko, Tantra]

Flair is a small-town girl clashing with the normalcy she hides behind. Her routine consists of attending psychology classes, working as a bartender, and in her spare time floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Flair uses her time floating as a way to explore her mind, utilizing what she learns in class to discover the far reaches of her psyche. The tank provides an escape, a place to truly be herself. Until one night when all she perceives as real comes crashing down. A stranger visits Flair while she is floating, literally the man of her dreams.

His mother’s float business has a thief, Austin follows Flair suspecting her of the crime. Brought together by shared interests and the mystery of who stole from Addie, Austin and Flair unite in common goals that bring them closer together.

Floating on Secrets is a psychological suspense novel with an emphasis on psychology. It is also a love story with two characters whose everyday thoughts do not adhere to the mindset of their surrounding peers. Their desire for love outweighs the abnormal encounter of how they first met. Flair and Austin are well-developed characters that slowly unveil themselves as the story unfolds. Tantra Benskoillustrates her characters with vivid and compelling descriptions, they are all well rounded and authentic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them.

The theme of neo-psych rock plays heavily into the story. Music shapes the feeling and thoughts of Flair and builds a foundation of commonality between her and Austin. The actual words “neo-psych rock”, I thought, were used one too many times within the first few chapters. But once the plot begins to take shape the word wanes. Looking past my qualms with the word choice, fans of the genre will certainly appreciate the attention to detail Bensko puts into describing the music.

The mysteries that make up the essence of Floating on Secrets drew me in and kept me guessing. After the story picks up and the characters are established the author truly shines in delivering a well-crafted suspense novel. I thought the inner monologues were interesting and added some character depth, but sometimes the inner dialog was overused. However, the overall plot is interesting and goes beyond the typical mystery story premise of predictable characters and events. Tantra Bensko has created an intriguing crime novel that any reader would find enjoyable.

Pages: 366 | ASIN:  B07PXFWH9X

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