Category Archives: Four Stars

Can We Talk? 

Can We Talk? by Sam Smith is an impassioned story of a family trying to adjust to life in a new country while dealing with mental illness, racism, and divorce. Based on her life, being an immigrant in Canada, Sam gives the reader a view into her experiences with her husband, Shawon, and her two daughters, Julie and Shanon. Everyone in the family has a different struggle. Sam and Shawon have a strained marriage that was not made easier by their move to Canada. Shawon and Sam live in the same house but no longer sleep together. They no longer act as a married couple, with Sam’s coworkers not believing she is even married. This relationship trickles down to their two kids. Shannon, the younger sister, still lives in the house with both of them. She is often in the middle of her parents’ fights, always consoling her mother after her father says something cruel. Julie lives away at school and has become an independent and self-reliant person who doesn’t ask for much help.

Can We Talk? is a stirring story about how hard adjusting to a new life can be. The author does a wonderful job at conveying her life struggles and hardships in a compelling story that feels real and is relatable.

Sam Smith does a masterful job of creating a story where the reader can feel the struggle of the characters regardless of whether they have felt those same struggles. She does this without creating a large conflict, instead she tells a real story with real people and real problems.

The story never feels like it is about characters in a book, it instead feels like a story about real people living their life and trying to deal with their family struggles. It is easy to empathize with Sam and her kids, because you understand what they are going through and where the problems lie.

Reading about Sam’s relationship with Shawon and her experience immigrating to a new country, you can’t help but to feel for them. Although the reader can recognize that Shawon causes a lot of issues for Sam and their kids, you still understand his motives and actions. The real enemy of their family is the hardships that come with immigrating and not being able to provide for their family.

Can We Talk? is a deeply thoughtful and emotionally resonant memoir about the challenges people face and how that tests us and our relationships. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an insightful and poignant true story.

Pages: 267 | ASIN: B09BRQGLR4

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LEARN TO LIVE LIFE!

Fred A.  Idiaquez is the kind of author that gets one to appreciate life. In Learn to Live Life: A Positive Outlook, the author talks about life on different journeys. He uses situations he has been through and what he has observed throughout his life. In his book, Fred A.  Idiaquez talks about positivity, realization, and the optimism that life offers.

The first chapter in Learn to Live Life is about understanding positivity. This chapter will enlighten readers and get readers to have positive energy around them. I like how straightforward the author is, defining terms and expounding on words that seem alike. When you read this chapter, you learn that positivity and optimism have some similarities despite having different meanings. This chapter is fulfilling and will awaken the optimist in you.

What stands out from Fred A. Idiaquez’s writing is his neutrality. Even when discussing societal vices, the author is modest and uses friendly language. As a reader, you get a warm feeling when reading Fred A.  Idiaquez’s work as you feel connected to him. I applaud the author for his impartiality and for showing kindness even when he is criticizing certain human behavior.

This book is an eye-opener and will get you to shun negativity, find balance, and change your perspective on various things in life. In Learn to Live Life, the author journeys with you during different stages of life. There are comforting words about grief, calming words about loss, cheerful words about joy, and assertive words about inspiration.

With the content in Fred A. Idiaquez’s book, you can take a new path, and make the life you have been dreaming of. Everything in Love to Live Life: A positive Outlook will leave you with positivity. The tales shared by the author, lessons learned, and the subjects in every chapter were enlightening as well as refreshing. The author uses thoughtful words as he talks about real stories in the most considerate of ways. I recommend this informative self-help guide to readers that are looking for a motivational book on modern living.

Pages: 69 | ASIN: B09V3L76VC

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Chubby Wubbles & Coco : 2 Missing Ferrets

Having ferrets as pets can be great fun, and can lead to some amusing adventures as well. Jeffrey agrees to take care of his sister’s ferret, Chubby, because she is too busy and Chubby needs attention. Jeffrey and Chubby play together and become great friends. But Chubby is missing his ferret friend, Coco. Chubby decides to go look for Coco, but gets into some trouble along the way. Luckily Jeffrey is there to save the day. Will Chubby ever find Coco?

Chubby Wubbles & Coco: 2 Missing Ferrets is a charming children’s book that shows the loving relationship that people can have with their pet ferrets. Chubby is so cute and the delightful illustrations throughout the book will appeal to young readers. The art focuses on the characters emotions and shows Chubby being very playful and getting into things.

Throughout the story readers, along with Chubby, are wondering where Coco is. While Jeffrey and Chubby have a wonderful relationship, which really shows you how close a pet and its owner can be, we are always left longing for Coco. This adorable kids books shows just how charismatic ferrets can be and children will love seeing Chubby throughout the colorful pages.

2 Missing Ferrets is a fun picture following a pair of friendships and shows how ferrets can bring joy, and a bit of playful mischief, into your life. Early readers will have a great time reading about Chubby and Jeffrey, and this will also be a wonderful bedtime story that parents can read to their young children.

Pages: 28 | ASIN: B09R84FL34

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Stories from Ecuador

Stories from Ecuador is a collection of short, well-put-together, and connected stories of the author’s experiences while living and working in Ecuador. The book consists of thirty-four different stories all about the beauty of Ecuador and its welcoming people. It follows Nelson himself as he sets on a journey to work in this foreign country as an English teacher there. He writes about his whole experience from arriving at the airport in Ecuador and needing to quickly switch hostels due to overbooking, to detailed and beautifully explained sightseeing experiences in and around Cuenca, to the everyday life and activities he did and his overall impressions of the country that he got to call home.

One of my favorite stories definitely has to be one of the first stories in the book, where he meets his first friends there, Sheik and her son José. It is a heartwarming story about people instantly coming together and it sets the comfortable and cozy tone for the rest of the book. Nelson did a fantastic job at describing all the beautiful sights you can see and experience in Ecuador.

The book also does a great job of conveying that sense of the unknown that comes with moving to a foreign country and all the love, positivity, laughs and friendships that come with it. In addition to that, the book is filled with pictures of all the people and sights that the author got to meet and see during his stay. This really helps readers to become fully immersed in the authors experiences and understand the beauty with their own eyes.

Stories from Ecuador by Tyrel Nelson conveys all the wonder and joy that comes with traveling and living in a foreign land. It will certainly make you want to visit Ecuador. This is an entertaining and educational book that will transport you to South America as it provides a clear and beautiful view at one persons time in an exotic country.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B08T9KMFV8

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The Demon Mark

Inspector Macleod isn’t one to shy away from unpleasantness or death. He has seen more than his fair share of both. But when a young man is murdered in the small village he’s recently settled into, Macleod is unprepared for the amount of religious fervor and superstition that swirls around the case, watching as the villagers drive themselves to the brink of a disastrous panic in the search for answers. Realizing that time is a factor, and that cooperation from the local police is not likely, Macleod has to connect the current events with a nearly decade old disappearance, and finds himself unearthing long buried town secrets along the way. 

The Demon Mark by Saul Falconer is an intricately layered murder mystery centered by the deeply complex figure that is Cormag Macleod. Macleod is presented as a competent and imposing inspector, obviously flawed, but passionate about his work. As the book trudges on, small bits and pieces of his past are revealed, lending more depth and understanding to his mindset as the mystery builds around him. Despite the array of aspects that come together during throughout the story, nothing is ever convoluted; owing to skilled writing. Falconer finds a modest balance between intrigue and complexity and rarely failing to keep up the pace while weaving between them.

The beginning of the book provides the reader will all the past details of the village they would need to know, integral to the plot or not, this creates a well defined backdrop to the story. Once past that, the story moves at an incredible pace, twisting and turning to an explosive ending.

Falconer infuses a huge amount of history into this book as well, recreating the town of Dungog in detail and using historical figures of the time as supporting characters. Author’s notes further the historical accuracy of the setting and helps to make the area come to life as an integral part of the action. 

Among all the mystery and secrets, the book explores the idea of doing the right thing the wrong way. When the big twist is eventually revealed, it is almost easy to sympathize with the antagonist, as solving this crime leads to the resolution of another. Moral and religious beliefs lay the foundation for nearly everything Macleod discovers. 

I enjoyed The Demon Mark very much, especially once the action really began about halfway through. I thought I had figured out what the twist would be and was pleasantly surprised when the actual answer was drastically different. This is a riveting crime thriller that fans of noir and history will certainly appreciate.

Pages: 277 | ASIN: B09R47Z9MX

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All in the Family

All in the Family is the second book in a series about the Field’s family by André Gress. Having read the first book and being left with a lot of untied ends and questions about the plot and characters, I was rather eager to get into the second book to get some answers.

The plot of this book is a lot more action packed than the first one: it follows the Field’s family, a family of prolific art thieves, who are being hunted by their arch nemesis Gavriil. Like Gress’ first book, I enjoyed this book mainly for the description of the plots. What was also interesting in this book was the dynamics built between the Field’s family characters- their interactions were riveting and offered a unique layer to the story.

Throughout the novel the author includes the narrative voice of another character, a raven who tells the story of what happened. Having an external character retell narratives was a powerful plot device. Since the raven didn’t seem to have any relation or connection to the story the reader is able to get an unbiased perspective.

Many themes in the book were dark and tense and I wanted to know more. As I mentioned before, the book is incredibly detailed so there are a lot of interesting choices when it comes to how things are described. There is a lot of really grotesque descriptions, especially regarding injuries or the appearance of the villain and sometimes I had to stop reading and then pick up where I left off. The grotesque language is used effectively, so if you’re a read who enjoys darkly creative scenes then you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. While I enjoyed the book overall, I felt that there was one particular part of the book that alluded heavily to sexual assault and I felt it was unnecessary. Otherwise, I enjoyed this book for the same reasons I enjoyed book one, for the themes and narrative choice in this book. A lot of the literary choices made by the author were well thought out and played an integral part in the plot.

All in the Family is a creative and dark thriller with an inventive plot that will keep you entertained with its meticulously developed world.

Pages: 281 | ASIN: B07F2TPWFD

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Human Collateral

When a young woman goes missing it’s up to two lifelong friends, Miles Darien and Ryan Duffy, to get to the bottom of things. When Miles starts his PI service in Lakeville, he didn’t anticipate a desperate mother to come knocking at his door. Cora Sims asks Miles to find her missing daughter, Olivia, after she up and leaves one day to start a new life in the big city of Chicago. With the help of his best friend, Ryan, Miles tracks down Olivia and undercovers a loan-shark organization that asks for organs as collateral. A penniless Olivia doesn’t realize how dangerous her situation is until it’s too late. In Harry Pinkus’ thriller novel: Human Collateral characters dodge bullets left and right, but will everyone make it out alive?

Author Harry Pinkus has written a riveting crime fiction story that is clear, concise and to the point. There is not a single plot structure or character that doesn’t fit in the story. The book is realistic when it comes to the political chain of command and police procedures. Even though Miles notes how the FBI blocks him from their investigation, he’s not trying to step on anyone’s toes or override police procedures to get the information he’s looking for. Generally, in murder mysteries, you have the noisy detective who jumps through loopholes to get to the bottom of things, not caring who they have to step over to find their killer. Not Miles though, he respects the police force and doesn’t push the investigation. Even though, as a reader, I wanted more information to help find the killer, I respect Miles for not bulldozing through the chain of command and letting the FBI do what they do best.

This is a realistic police procedural that puts the facts over the need for thrills. We follow the investigation with few surprises due to the methodical method with which everything is provided. Miles and Ryan’s day-to-day life is one that readers can understand, if not relate to, because of how grounded they are. Every character in this story has a very polite air about them. Their conversations reflect this and everyone has the same cordial sensibility.

Human Collateral is a compelling mystery novel that takes readers into the trenches of the private investigator world and tells a crime fiction story that feels realistic while still being interesting. If you are a reader looking for a meticulous who-dun-it that takes a pragmatic approach to solving a heinous crime, then this will certainly entertain you.

Pages: 289 | ASIN: B09JHV754X

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Valley Fliers

Valley Fliers brings readers into Jay Smalley’s high-flying world. He is a teenager who is determined to get into a prominent aeronautics university and has a passionate hobby flying model airplanes. It may have initially started as a hobby, but Jay is dead set on making it a career and claims that this is his best chance to fly the real thing. As good as he was at his craft, Jay’s mother always cautioned him, and rightly so. Jay is certain that his plan is fool-proof and has already made up his mind. Jay had a good thing going but his flow got disrupted by the arrival of Oren, a mysterious new face in their community of fliers. Is Oren more than he seems? Jay must find out, before someone gets hurt.

If you’re a fan of coming-of-age novels with well-crafted plots, then the Valley Fliers by David Boito is right up your alley. The author brilliantly puts us in the point of view of a strong-willed teen named Jay. Boito succinctly conveys the essential features of the protagonist’s mindset, which helps readers understand him if not relate to him, and his reactions to events always felt authentic.

The author’s knowledge of model airplane navigation is impressive and is used throughout the book to ensure readers are fully immersed in the model airplane world. The lingo is used throughout the book but is never overwhelming, and even if you don’t know the first thing about flying model airplanes you’ll still be able to understand the story.

The plot continually thickens as the protagonist, along with his friends, notice odd things about Oren. The most obvious one being that Oren’s little aircraft has the same build and model to a drone involved in an alleged assassination and terrorist attack. But it couldn’t possibly be Oren, right? This mystery sends Jay and his friends, and readers, spiraling into a rabbit hole of conspiracy and investigations that could potentially put all of them, and their loved ones, in grave danger.

Valley Fliers uses a unique setup to tell a compelling crime fiction story that explores themes of loyalty with charming characters and a budding teen romance to spice things up. This is an entertaining story for anyone looking for a lite crime drama.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B09J1LP1CT

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