Category Archives: Four Stars

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol: (Retold by Norman Whaler and Illustrated by Bianca Milacic) by [Whaler, Norman]

Norman Whaler’s A Christmas Carol is an exceptional retelling of a classic Christmas story. The story of stingy and selfish old Scrooge who learns through a series of ghostly visits that he has the power to ease the suffering of others and bring joy to those around him.

Norman Whaler tells this story in short rhymes that were spot on every time. The rhythm’s were short and succinct but still summed up the expanded story perfectly. Each page is accompanied by high quality art that supports the narrative and fits the book’s tone. The art is so good that I wanted to see more of it. I felt like some of the paragraphs, because they summarized so much of the story, could have been on another page with it’s own art to give life to what was being told. But this is a critique that comes out of the desire to see more of the exceptional artwork already displayed.

This is a retelling of a classic Christmas story that highlights Christian themes throughout the book with a deft touch. At the end of the book readers are treated to bonus material in the way of Christmas sheet music. I can imagine that this book would be a nice way to start a Christmas night with the family, with a story followed by songs.

If you love Christmas stories, especially the classic one of Scrooge, you will want to pick this up for the young readers in your home.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B07QF4BPKG

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Advanced Lotto Rotation

Advanced Lotto Rotation System

Ever wondered if games of chance can be deciphered? Could math be used to that advantage? To get exactly the numbers you need to win the lotto? You have played too many times by pure chance and instinct. How about applying a little bit of logic this time? Just to see if it makes a difference.

The Advanced Lotto Rotation System is a tutorial on how to break the code. On how to burst through the veil of unluck. Joseph Vlasic breaks down the whole system. He then proceeds to put everything together bit by bit as one looks on. This gives one an understanding into the game. Sort of like getting into the mind of the game.

This is a very short read. However, the writer has put everything down in very simple English. He does not leave the reader behind at any point. This is important as it will help one apply whatever they have learned later on. At the very beginning, you are asked to read and reread. You must follow this directive so that you can grasp every step of the exercise.

It is easy to lose focus and attention when dealing with so many numbers and confusing ideas. Therefore the author uses highlights and tables. These help the reader bring their attention back to the material at hand. It also helps you have a different view of the idea for better understanding and fresh perspective.

This book delivers some very interesting ideas on Lotto and games of chance in general. Although there could be some complex information delivered in such a small package, I felt the author gave each idea plenty of room to develop completely before moving on.

There are some minor misspellings and I felt the book could benefit from a brush over. Other than that it is an interesting read. It is compelling to see just how easy it could be to break games of chance. To bend them to your will. This book puts you in control rather than leaving it up to chance or sheer luck. We cannot all be lucky, can we?

Pages: 19

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Layers of Deception

Layers of Deception: An utterly gripping, international crime thriller. by [James, Leo]

An international crime thriller guaranteed to keep you reading to the last page. Layers of Deception chronicles the life of Steve Roussos as he struggles to land a business deal for his IT company all while pressured with the financial hardships at home. With the company based in England Steve and his team fly out to Malaysia in hopes of securing a contract with a high-profile company in Asia. The authors’ knowledge of Kuala Lumpur with its modern skylines, expensive taste, seedy underground dealings, and masked corruption makes a perfect backdrop to this edge of your seat adventure.

One of the biggest draws for the book was its setting. Having spent some time in Kuala Lumpur it is not unfathomable that something of this story would happen there. Even a reader who hasn’t a clue about the city can easily illustrate a picture from James’ writing. Unlike the solid set up of the stories location, the characters had their lackluster moments. It took a while to distinguish the different personalities between each character. With so many people popping in and out it was hard to keep track of who was who, but the main character Steve is likable. I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue behind the villains, and enjoyed trying to piece together who was who.

In the first half of the book, my eyes were glued to the page wondering what would happen next. Despite the initial disorder of characters, the author writes a fluid sequence of events which gives the reader enough time to process the information and keep the story moving. It was only towards the latter half of the book that I thought there was too much repetition of dialog, with over explanations, and random facts. However, where the authors’ descriptions do shine are that of the technology and software mechanics within the story. As someone who is so far outside the realm of understanding cyber-security, I never felt lost or confused. In fact, I was frequently intrigued and curious for more information on the topic.

I love a good crime thriller and this story met all the requirements. Layers of Deceptions is an enthralling escapade full of danger, crooked characters and criminal activity on a worldwide scale. A book I suggest any reader with a taste for modern crime novels to pick up.

Pages: 341 | ASIN: B07JYBKDJN

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Snapdragon: A Father-Daughter Story

A harrowing tale of family challenges one women faces traversing the life of her defiant father after her mother’s passing. Embodied with the faith of God the author narrates her perseverance with every roadblock she encounters, which adds up quickly as her patience is tested dealing with a rebellious father. Snapdragon reads as a series of episodic events, each chapter highlighting a situation that would bring anyone to the boiling point of frustration. Woven through each of these trials, the author recounts her involvement with faith. Her Christian beliefs are spun deep into the fabric of this intimate story revolving around confronting all odds to find peace with her father.

Allison St. James undoubtedly writes with a personal voice, her persistence to become close and receive the love of her father is heartbreaking at times. The seemingly open face view of her struggles with personal relationships, financial setbacks, and physical ailments never once waiver her beliefs. Aside from anyone who is a Christian or feels they have some connection to organized religion might find Allison’s passages depicting her beliefs to be preachy at times. However, her honest expression of the situation will have any reader astonished with her resolution and drive to care for her father.

The author writes with a clear tone that had me flipping through page after page finishing the book in no time. Easy to read and written in the first person the story flowed smoothly through each transition. I was impressed with the heart and emotion that shown through with such simple language. Although a few characters came off written with just a rigid introduction, and I wondered how many times Allison could be “emotionally drained”, the spirit of these relationships fostered a deeper understanding of how convoluted the authors’ life became as the story went on.

Allison’s story is composed of real-life scenarios which don’t always amount to a fairy-tale ending. Instead, despite all the challenges the author faces, Snapdragon portrays a genuine feeling of forgiveness. It reassures the reader that through these constant battles in life doing the right thing might be difficult but the conscious will always remember that decision.

Pages: 238 | ISBN:1449788777

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RISKING FOREVER

RISKING FOREVER: Vol 1 (The Forever Series): New adult college romance by [GALLINA, TARA]

Ainsley Belle is the 21-year old college student who provides the first person narrative in this story. She’s a funny, sweet and innocent girl in the prime of her life. She and her best friend, Harper Gentry, are students at Ryland. Unlike most of her classmates, Ainsley wasn’t born into a wealthy family and works hard to afford her education. She is desperately seeking independence from her controlling mother. When she loses her employment and an enticing job opportunity presents itself she is more passionate than intrigued. The fact that the job comes from a handsome older classmate makes it all the more intriguing. The reader joins Ainsley as she enters in to a world much bigger than the one she’s known.

The flirtatious build-up between Sebastian and Ainsley is enticing. It’s almost a little irritating how Ainsley doesn’t realize Sebastian is coming on to her or why he might be interested. She’s clearly an attractive girl and playful. She’s written as a virgin which is a little cliche but because we experience it through her eyes it helps define it a bit more.

I love that this book is a serial novel. I haven’t read many serial novels but the idea that’s it made for people who don’t have time to sit through a full length book is very desirable to me.

This was easy to digest and flirtatious throughout. It had a youthful sexy vibe that made me feel young and flirty. I enjoyed the time the author took to organically grow the relationship between Sebastian and Ainsley, although sometimes I wanted it to move faster. I also loved the friendship between Harper and Ainsley. It was very believable and playful.

I think the author could have given us a little more grit outside of the innocent flirting between the two main characters. Maybe this will come out more in the next books in the series. I also look forward to more levels as far as the romance! In all this book was entertaining with endearing characters and an intriguing plot line. I’m definitely interested in reading more about these characters and seeing where the story goes. Serial novels have a way of drawing you in! There are some adult themes so this is better for the older set. Smooth writing helps with a somewhat slow story. Enjoyable book

Pages: 149 | ASIN: B07NQ99MGF

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The Final Wars Begin

The Final Wars Begin (Final Wars Trilogy Book 1) by [Asthana, S. A.]

The Final War Begins is a dystopian sci-fi novel of a fractured society and the people trying to bring peace to the colonies. The story starts as Lieutenant General Bastien is running from the law. He’s wanted for murder and is running to avoid execution. Bastien is an easy character to root for and he had me empathizing with him right from the beginning. He’s a soldier, but one with good and careful judgement.

Queen Marie Dubois was a character I did not like as much but still loved how fierce and determined she was. Marie’s voracious nature had her kill her father so she could assume the throne. She then turns to Bastien to get rid of her sister Belle. With an exciting plot twits, Belle tries to do the same thing her sister had in mind and turn Bastien against Marie. This turn of events makes the book thrilling to say the least and shows how unpredictable this novel is, which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

There is a strong theme of technology throughout the book that is used deftly and subtly so that you always know this is the future and you can’t wait to see what things S.A. Asthana has dreamed up. Cube the robot is tasked with hunting down Bastien. Cube has a few human features and qualities, like familiarizing himself with emotion through music, which made him endearing. Every character we’re introduced to is developed thoroughly, leaving you with complex and intriguing characters. Marie had extraordinary physical abilities, General Crone is as firm as his job required, and Belle brought balance to the story when other characters appear mean. The main character, Bastien, was everything I would want to see in a protagonist in a fantasy novel.

If you enjoy thrilling fantasy novels, then you will love this book. The author has given the characters contrasting roles that make the plot unfold easily and builds tension organically. Every chapter focuses on a single character; which helped me follow the plot. The adventure, shock, politics, murders, tension among characters and the suspense after every chapter will give you an adrenaline rush. The Final War Begins is a top notch dystopian science fiction novel.

Pages: 287 | ASIN: B07LD73841

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Moments in Time

Moments in Time: Poems of Life Love Faith by [Reinheardt, Larry]

Moments in Time is a collection of Christian poetry by author Larry E. Reinheardt. The collection holds poems that range in length, style, and tone but they all encompass the messages of faith, love, and experience. The poems are meant to present the experience of one person and share them with all. These poems are a way to connect with each other and God.

Some of the poems in this collection feel more like prayers while others have more of a sense of a story. I liked that there was variety in these poems as it kept each one feeling fresh and unique. Another advantage of this choice is that it makes the book reach more people. Each poem will resonate strongly with different people, but there is enough variety of experience presented in the collection that each reader has a strong chance of finding many poems that resonate deeply for them.

Reinhardt uses language that is simple and clear but holds an honest tone and deep desire to share their experience with others. This makes each poem feel strong, heartfelt, and beautiful. This book is clearly meant for Christian readers but does not discourage other readers. I found the earnest tone and the biblical story references to be particularly engaging elements of the collection. Many bible stories have poetic rings to them, so I liked seeing some of them addressed in entirely poetic language. It reminded me of being told a story verbally, listening to the melody within it.

This collection is perfect for poetry lovers that also have deep faith. The combination of the two creates a beautiful and thought-provoking book that is an enjoyable read. The poems are fairly short, the longest of them still fitting on a single page, making them short but sweet and many holding powerful messages. You can tell while reading this book that Reinheardt put himself into the words and you can see his desire to spread love and life to all.

Pages: 132 | ASIN: B0793QNPTG

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Ameher’s No More Crumbs Chronicle of a 4-D Woman Rising from Hate to Hope

Ameher's No More Crumbs Chronicle of a 4-D Woman Rising from Hate to Hope: Beloved I Wish Above All That You Prosper and Be in Health Even as Your Soul Prospers by [Ameher]

Ameher is a woman of strength, compassion, and a faith like no other. From a very early age she endured hardships in Nairobi only to pursue the American dream as an immigrant and face immeasurable abuses and prejudices in her new home. When she struggles to find a safe place for herself and her children, she is met head-on with one challenge after another but chooses to hold her head high and never give up as she battles a system designed to protect citizens but fails in all too many cases. Nowhere is faith more explicitly exemplified than in Ameher’s life as immigrant to the United States.

Ameher’s No More Crumbs Chronicle of a 4-D Woman Rising from Hate to Hope is the author’s own story of harrowing experiences as she tries desperately to find someone she can trust. Her story in an important one and one that bears repeating until a broken system is finally repaired.

At 400 pages, the author has enough striking material to make a short series of three separate books based on her life. The many abuses and the detail to which she goes into regarding her life with Todd make for an entire work on their own. The author takes great care to explain the entire process to which she was subjected, and this section of the text would make for a moving book all by itself.

The author recounts the expectations placed upon her as one raised in a religious home. She addresses the stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock quite well. Throughout her ordeal battling the system in the United States, she is able to lean on her faith and holds strong as she relies on friends who seem to exhibit a shared strength of faith. As I see it, Ameher has the makings for a fantastic self-help/devotional book centered entirely on her own faith. A book of this nature would make a fascinating read.

Because Ameher is an amazing example of persistence in the face of adversity, she is a prime candidate to pen a book on the discrimination faced by a woman of color in the United States. The challenges she faces are a sad but true testament to the daily struggles faced by people of color across this nation.

Ameher’s work is explicit enough to be engrossing, but not graphic in nature. The author takes care to explain the horror of her trials without turning readers off with vulgarities.

As effective as Ameher’s work is in capturing readers’ attention, it could use some additional editing. At times, it reads a bit like a rough draft with more care placed in the emotion of the wording than in the accuracy.

Ameher has bared her heart and soul to the world in order to help other women with her book. Any reader who picks up her story will be inspired to keep the faith and rise up in the face of adversity.

Pages: 400 | ASIN: B079438P7M

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Prodigal Avenger

Prodigal Avenger: A Story of the Secret War in Afghanistan by [Moynihan, Tim]

Jake Drecker, a special operator, pursues a mission across country borders to neutralize a terrorist cell, which may be holding an American missionary hostage. When Jake’s boss, Lt. Colonel Mike Sanchez, wonders at Drecker’s insistence and the CIA’s apparent carelessness for his and his team’s safety. The mystery of motivations and history of the missionary begins to settle in for both men. As the rescue operation becomes more and more dangerous, Drecker and Sanchez begin to believe that they may have bitten off more than they could chew.

Military thrillers are always ripe with adventure and thrilling pacing, yet Tim Moynihan’s Prodigal Avenger, seems to subvert his trope. His style is crisp and light and sails over the narrative with ease. There are plenty of nitty-gritty details and numerous mentions of military jargon to please even the most extensive army aficionados. Set in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the setting is immediately visceral and relevant, given the extensive USA presence there in the last 18 years, although Moynihan avoids labeling or commenting on the political foibles that led to the conflict. The mentions and reflections of faith were unexpected, but felt surprisingly welcome, especially in the face of such dire circumstances.

Drecker and Sanchez play off one another quite well and give an almost classic “brothers in combat” that is present in most military dramas, yet Moynihan plays his hand slightly closer to his chest by not allowing either man to be too intimate to the reader. This keeps us at a distance when observing the violence and chaos that occurs throughout the story. There is special attention to show how in war, black and white isn’t clear and that no one is purely at fault nor innocent in war. That kind of appreciation for warfare is rare in these sorts of patriotic, Americanized thrillers and Moynihan must be commended for his discerning prose.

The only fault I found in this book would be the loose ends. Considering how complex and confusing the operation becomes over time, this is no surprise, but the careful narrative never becomes overtly twisted so as to confuse the reader further. The loose ends otherwise will have us begging for answers and one can hope that Prodigal Avenger does not leave Drecker and Sanchez behind.

Any reader of military thrillers or military adventures stories surrounding the Middle East would be well served by reading these.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07KX5K894

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The Red Grouse Tales

The Red Grouse Tales: The Little Dog and other stories. by [Garland, Leslie W P]

The Red Grouse Tales by Leslie W. P. Garland is a book comprised of four short stories. Each story starts off with a quote followed by someone telling that particular tale. Each story revolves around the theme of religion. However, the theme is not heavy or overtaking the tale. Each short story starts off slow complete with building suspense and a twist ending. Each story has its own unique lesson one can learn and think about, making them slightly philosophical. While each telling is different, the main theme is good and evil, which gives the reader a lot to ponder.

I enjoyed this collection of stories and would recommend them. One of my favorite parts of these short stories were the fable-like feeling. They each told a story with a surprising lesson attached to each. I also greatly enjoyed the way the stories were written. Each had a way of telling a story through another person, which made the reading interesting and fun for me. I think it was a nice, added detail that gave it a more authentic feeling of sitting around and hearing a tale as well as making it seem more like a fable.

This book consists of four short stories. The Little Dog is the first one, which I felt, was a great story to start off with. It hooked me in the book itself to see what the rest of them have to offer. I think this short story in particular really set up the rest of the book as it was suspenseful and thought-provoking. It contained one of the more interesting ideas I have come across in a book: What is evil? According to this tale, evil does not have a conscious. I had to pause and think about this for a bit afterward because it was such an interesting concept to propose.

The second was The Crow, which I also greatly enjoyed. The contrast between the teenager and the older man in the story was stark, and I liked to see those differences between the two of them. I think this one was my favorite out of the four as it showed you how unique perspectives can be.

I also found The Golden Tup to be particularly interesting. I think it was my second favorite out of the collection. It was told in a suspenseful and fun way. The White Hart was not of any particular interest to me, personally, when compared to the others, but it fits in with the other tales and tied them together nicely.

All together, I found this collection to be immensely entertaining.

Pages: 347 | ASIN:  B018VWOVIU

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