Category Archives: Four Stars

The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi

Education is not only in school because we also learn from our family, culture, and environment. Traditions, beliefs, and upbringings in many homes are different. Being an immigrant in America is proof of that, and recognizing it can give you a new perspective on life. The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi shows the daily life of a Nigerian-American man who discovers himself amidst the contradictions of life. Obi tries to balance family, work, and ideological responsibilities. He soon faces reality and realizes that generational customs are changing. He goes through life reflecting on situations in search of realistic expectations for his life. In this way, Chinedu Achebe demonstrates how education and society change, evolve and adapt.

Obi learns that marriages are relationships that do not always meet people’s expectations. Every family has its secrets, and Obi’s is no exception. As I continued reading on, I learned that Obi and Nkechi are not the perfect couple that they like to portray to others, and Obi is struggling to be a better husband. The tension and drama build when Sade and Tamika enter the picture as Obi has to battle with temptation, leaving the reader wondering how Obi will handle this situation.

I found it interesting that Obama’s re-election is discussed by Obi and it shows how politics affect our lives. This made for a relatable read because many readers have experienced what Obi is experiencing, from having to pay for daycare, healthcare, and the worries of a stagnant economy and how people are wary of Obama’s policies affecting our decisions life to care for our families. Nkechu is a character that some will either love or hate because, on the outside, she is a strong woman who is trying to find her footing as a new mother and have a career, all while still trying to have a healthy marriage. Still, on the inside, she is really insecure, which begins to take a toll on their marriage. I felt that Obi needed a better support system, especially regarding his needing advice on marriage.

Chinedu Achebe emphasizes the effort of Nigerian immigrants to integrate into a community, all while trying to hold on to past traditions as well as create new traditions. I recommend The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi to those who are looking for realistic and current fiction that focuses on family, culture, and politics.

Pages: 228 | ASIN : B076KP1GWX

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I Am Why They Killed Diana

This captivating and detailed piece tells the story of an American girl with Scottish roots named Cynthia. In this diary-like memoir, Cynthia takes you through her mostly abusive but sometimes beautiful childhood that turns into an even more tragic but still sometimes beautiful adulthood. Follow along on this journey with her as she takes readers through the twists and turns of her friendships, family members, lovers, jobs, and a secret heritage that no one seems to know about. 

This shocking and captivating read is set up like a journal with entries from the author that contain dates, times, places, and even images making this an authentic read. The author manages to weave her experiences, adventures, tragedies, and love all in about 150 pages. Cynthia Gunn takes us on the crazy journey that is her life, and if it’s anything like the writing, it truly was a chaotic love story to herself. Jumping around and going off topic sometimes, you can see the passion and fever that Cynthia was writing within every word. The author speaks directly to the reader, and I can sense her heart and the truth that lies in these pages.

I AM WHY THEY KILLED DIANA The Secret of The Red String… is Cynthia’s story and is a fascinating and intriguing account. However, she jumps from one subject to the next and then back to the other, sometimes making it a little difficult for me to keep up with it all. Nevertheless, I feel this is a style choice, and combined with the author’s passion and dedication to her history, it works. I would recommend this riveting read to those who enjoy history, drama, and memoirs, as this book has it all.

Pages: 144 | ASIN : B0026MS6U6

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Godsmack Part I

Godsmack Part 1: The Mother Earth is an intriguing book that combines a criminal gang, spirituality, love, and regret. This suspenseful book follows the story of Yahn Marynugh, who, in his quest for a simple life, ends up in the heart of a dark plot (or so it may seem!). After leaving his day job, he embarks on a journey of peace and natural living. Meanwhile, a group of heroin producers, under surveillance by the police, wreak havoc on themselves and those around them.

I really enjoyed Josie Peterson’s writing style. She writes formally and ornately, which is a pleasant change from most crime thriller literature. This formed a nice contrast to some of the controversial topics covered, such as drugs and violence. In addition, it was interesting that the majority of the characters in the book were homosexual men, especially considering the book’s direction.

The whole story is unique and makes the reader work hard to uncover the details. This fast-paced story is filled with suspense and exhilarating moments. The plot takes twists and turns when readers least expect it so readers should be fully engaged if they want to follow the action. I think that readers would benefit from an author’s note to explain the relevance of the first chapter and its overall meaning to the story. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, but each has its own backstory that adds to the plotline. I especially like the way that Josie Peterson developed each of their personalities, creating a mix of empathy and somewhat disdain for most.

Godsmack Part 1: The Mother Earth is a stimulating crime novel laced with dark humor. Readers who enjoy life’s darker side and an engaging crime novel will find this one hard to put down.

Pages: 357 | ASIN : B0BFNN1KBM

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SPORT: A STAGE FOR LIFE

In Sport: A Stage for Life: How To Connect With the Touchstones of Elite Performance And Personal Fulfillment, readers are immersed in the world of Water Polo and other sports as the authors share interesting facts, aspects, and tips about their favorite sports and others. Cristiana Pinciroli and Pedro Pinciroli have written an intriguing and enlightening book that is relevant in both the world of sports and real life. Both father and daughter were professional water polo players who participated in major leagues and big tournaments worldwide. Cristiana played in Italy and captained the Brazilian national team for more than a decade, while her father, Pedro, represented Brazil at two Olympics, among other major sports events. As you read about the stories of these two prolific sports icons, you realize that sports are not just for fun, as they also play a critical role in the wellness of society.

I like how Cristiana starts the book. The author familiarizes the reader with her story, writing about her father’s achievements and how her inspiration for sports was born. Cristiana Pinciroli is an engaging author. Her writing gives one a sense of realization. When talking about her background and family, Cristiana makes the reader feel every moment of her writing. She chronicles funny stories and witty tales and is authentic in her writing. Cristiana’s love for the game is moving, and her dedication and passion are admirable. When writing about water polo, the author ensures that even readers that are not familiar with the game grasp how it is played. The readers get it all from the rules, how the scores are counted, training, and tips on being a good player and playing in big matches.

Sport: A Stage for Life is well written, and one of my favorite things in the book is the historical tidbits. There is a ton to learn about Latin America and the western world and the changes that have been happening over the years, whether in politics, sports, economic changes, and social transformations. One can draw many lessons from the authors’ lives and other sports professionals discussed in the book; endurance and competitiveness are some of the greatest elements of a great sportsman or sportswoman. Practice every chance you get and build your confidence with every game. Both big and small games are important, as there is something to learn.

Sport: A Stage for Life is an inspirational self-help book that gives readers insight into making personal transformations. This well-written book has 12 chapters that take you through the ins and outs of sports and enlighten you on life hacks. The authors may have written about sports, but shared lessons can help the reader in their day-to-day activities. Whether focusing on health, discipline, setting goals, being spirited, or following your dream, Cristiana and Pedro Pinciroli have tips that will help you elevate your mindset and whole being.

Pages: 449 | ASIN : B0B3M2XL6K

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She’s Still Here

Kate Sablowsky just moved to Iowa with her famous news anchor mom, Maria Silver. Following the move, Kate starts the seventh grade at Ravendale middle school, where she discovers more than just a cast of kooky teachers. She quickly finds out that she has a gift passed down that allows her to see and speak with the dead. With this skill, she meets Jane, a shy girl who loves chemistry but who died a tragic death in school over 20 years ago. Jane is not fully sure of why and how she died; is there possibly a killer on the loose? You can find out in the first installment of the Kate Sablowsky Paranormal Investigator Series, She’s Still Here by Caitlin Alexander!

This exciting book is a much-welcomed refresh to the middle-grade detective/horror genre. It has all of the simple but entertaining qualities of a classic Nancy Drew mixed with the spookiness of John Bellairs’ works.

Alexander’s writing is simplistic in language but has enough complexities in the plot to make the book appropriate for the targeted audience. As an adult reading this, I was still thoroughly entertained and engaged. Throughout the book, Alexander hints that the killer may still walk amongst the school halls, but all is not what it seems, and I appreciated that final twist to make the book less predictable.

Seeing as She’s Still Here is the first book in a series, I am hoping to see Kate’s character grow and evolve. I feel that Kate comes off as a bit shallow and unwilling to embrace small-town life at the start. The characters encounter typical teenage social situations and struggle to adjust and fit in with peers. Middle-grade readers will be able to relate and sympathize with the characters’ feelings as they navigate middle school. These themes are mixed into the storyline seamlessly next to the paranormal mystery and adventure components.

She’s Still Here by Caitlin Alexander is a gripping paranormal mystery and adventure novel for middle-grade readers that a wide age group can enjoy. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Pages: 184 | ASIN : B0BHFDRYVW

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The Mole Vol II

The Mole Vol II by Ron Raye is a book of poetry that takes an in depth look at both the perpetrators and victims of slavery and the lasting impacts of that institution. Raye doesn’t pull any punches as he dives into the sensitive topic, following the journey taken by many slaves and exploring both their individual stories and their collective pain. From the woman who is raped and beaten, to the returning character of Willem, who appears to “[serve] as one of the architects of slavery,” Raye manages to use a variety of characters and stories to convey the depth and breadth of the history he is dramatizing, and he does so without romanticizing, dehumanizing, or trivializing.

Some pieces seemed to end but not and vice versa, so readers will need to read closely. There is a repetition to some of the pieces and I can see the reason for that repetition being an illustration of the continued suffering of the characters and others whose stories are not told. However the sheer power of these pieces and the stories being told is captivating.

Raye does a fantastic job of bringing characters to life in a way that feels raw and real; these aren’t just caricatures of villains and victims, but engaging people and stories that connect readers to real struggles. His language is incredibly evocative, painting a picture that is so vivid and at times uncomfortable that Raye succeeds in not just making you hear what he has to say, but feel what he means you to feel.

Pages: 307 | ASIN: B0BBJVZGMX

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Nothing’s As It Seems

Nothing’s As It Seems by Holly Brandon lives up to its title in the best possible way. Chastity Morgan, also called Chase, is a romantic with the desire for marriage and a happily ever after. When Chase finds herself in her 30s after multiple failed relationships, she’s beginning to think that she’s never found “the one.” She fights the pressure of her family and their traditional views on the need to find a husband. Instead, Chase focuses on her independence and being happy without a man. She learns from her family, friends, and personal experiences that life is all about the journey, and love is about mutual respect and commitment.

Chase soon discovers other forces are at play, including Daphne’s psychic abilities and a questionable series of events that occur unexpectedly. She soon learns that the destiny she’s been chasing and the life she’s been looking for were in front of her all along, and essentially, nothing is quite as it seems.

I found the book to be fun, with quirky, likable characters and excellent development throughout the story. There is a significant dynamic between Chase and her cousin Roxie, with rich inspiration and empathy. I really enjoyed her family’s relationship, creating a sense of nostalgia throughout the book. It’s an enjoyable, creative story filled with original ideas that give the story more depth and thought-provoking ideas than I expected. I love how the dialogue between the characters shapes their relationships, and there is a good dose of humor driven by fate, the setting, and the characters. Chase’s journey is a must-read that I highly recommend.

Nothing’s As It Seems by Holly Brandon is a light, fun, and fast-paced book with loveable characters and an enjoyable plot. I recommend this entertaining tale that blends love, friendship, family, and a drive for more out of life.

Pages 539 | ASIN: B09R4GFSPN

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Who Knew?

Who Knew? is an eloquent collection of poems that capture the emotion of a person at a moment in time in New York City’s history. Each poem is short but impactful. I was astonished to find that each poem conveys a deep meaning with so few works.

Each poem is evocative and captures the person’s strife and uncertainty all with a single sentence at the end of each poem, ‘Who knew?’ Each poem gives readers a glimpse at the life of someone who lived, or lives, in New York City; an immigrant, a slave, a police officer, a firefighter. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a test at the end, which asks the reader to guess who each poem was about. Before moving on to find the answers, I found myself flipping back through the poems one more time to try and find out who they might be about. This adds a lot of engagement to the poetry, and made me want to read the poems more than once.

Poetry readers will enjoy the potency of each poem, and casual readers will be able to easily pick this book up and complete it quickly because of the brevity of the poems. Anyone interested in New York City history will also find this poems fascinating as they are intriguing artistic glimpses of what it meant to be alive in New York City to different people at different times.

Pages: 17 | ASIN: B08V1SH4QH

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