Category Archives: Three Stars
The world of Telbyrin is no stranger to the high fantasy wonders of, Elves, magic, legends, and lore. The story unfolds as our two heroes strike out on a pilgrimage turned epic adventure. No sooner do they leave the confines of their beloved farmland do they quickly run into danger left and right. A fearful evil rises once again in Telbyrin threatening the peace and all its inhabitants. At the same time, the Eternal Flame is found extinguished throughout the land causing panic and dread.
From reading Br. Benedict’s book, I can spot his fantasy influences as well as his admiration for the genre. The plot is straight forward but with that Br. Benedict’s builds an elaborate world that is deftly created with care. The author has clearly spent a good amount of time developing and establishing name and traits for each concept presented in The Flame of Telbyrin. With so much effort gone into creating such a rich world, I would have liked to experience more substance in the writing. The story moves quickly and I quite enjoyed the fast pace of the novel. It added tension and suspense to the plot. But with that came less time to evoke a well-crafted setting and character development.
The Elves, Orilin and his wife Larilyn carry the plot as they traverse the land of Telbryin in search of an answer and hope to the fast-approaching Meldron, an arch-nemesis to the Elvish population. The black and white portrayal of morals between Elves and Meldron sets the reader up for a clear choice of who to root for. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is among the first of a few books Br. Benedict’s has written. The novel keeps the quest like adventure and characters simple and rarely deviates from the commonly used fantasy tropes.
It is evident that Br. Benedict loves the genre deeply and enjoyed developing and building the world of Telbryin. I enjoyed reading this book with the knowledge of Br. Benedict’s hard work and dedication to the novel. The Flame of Telbyrin is brimming with potential to become an epic fantasy novel with intriguing characters. I look forward to Br. Benedict further cultivating his ideas and giving us a fuller view of his imagination. The Flame of Telbyrin was a joy to read and I recommend it to any fan of the fantasy genre that is looking for captivating characters inhabiting an intricate world.
Pages: 171 | ASIN: B07HKT4441
My Name is Bacci Bogie, by Sandra Glosser, is a story of travel, of life’s ups and downs, and above all, of love and acceptance. However, unlike many other stories, this one is told from the perspective of a small, but boisterous, Maltese dog.
Bacci tells us the story of his adoption by his doggie mom, Sandra, and their lives together as traveling companions. By accompanying Sandra on her travels as a motivational speaker, Bacci becomes an expert at flying in planes, staying in hotels, and making friends. He gets to live a doggie life full of adventure while bringing joy not only to Sandra’s life, but to many other people’s lives as well. Through Bacci’s own voice we learn about the real love and companionship that is shared between animals and humans.
I think Glosser’s choice to write this book from the perspective of her dog works really well to convey her story in an interesting way. Many pet owners can attest to wondering what their pet is thinking from time to time, and this attempt by the author to reveal her dog’s interpretation of events can appeal to pet lovers everywhere. Even those who are not doggie parents will enjoy hearing about the world from a fresh perspective. By imagining what Bacci is thinking, Glosser reveals her story to us a lighthearted way that is fun to listen to.
While the overall approach to the book is compelling, I think the structure of the story itself could use some fine tuning. Frequently, one anecdote seems to lead into another without much transition, making it hard to follow where one idea ends and another begins. The text is not always divided into chapters in an effective manner, leading me to feel at times like I may have missed something in the plot. In addition, while the stories that Bacci tells are endearing I felt that they were underdeveloped. I think the book would benefit from elaboration on these stories to develop their significance a bit more. Without this, the book at times feels like it is a string of thoughts rather than a fleshed out story.
With that being said, the book is a fairly enjoyable read overall. The author’s message in the preface and epilogue turn what may just be another story into something with a more personal meaning as they reveal the author’s real feelings and motivation for sharing her story with her audience. Grosser’s heartfelt story pays tribute to the life of her beloved pet in a way that is touching to hear.
Pages: 51 | ASIN: B07R9Z76LC
Choker by Bob Moseley is the “coming of age” tale of basketball-obsessed Mark Chamberlain who, in the course on one year went from being the black sheep of his high-school’s basketball team to team captain.
A Clifton High student, Mark Chamberlain misses an all-important throw in the final seconds of a game, which costs his team a championship victory and gets him the nickname “the choker”. However, with help from coach Antonelli and his new girlfriend Su Metha, Mark is slowly getting over the setback and dedicates himself to training hard for the next season. His love for basketball helps him deal with heartache and pain and, after becoming team co-captain, he gets better and better at the game and ends up leading his teammates to victory.
This Young Adult book deals with a lot of issues that are important for teenagers nowadays: race issues, balancing school work and sports, bullying along with social media bullying, and dealing with loss, but also touches on the positive aspects of life, like the book hero’s first love, overcoming obstacles, bettering yourself through hard work. It definitely holds a lot of lessons for the reader, and teenagers and young adults will relate to the characters. The writing is alert and quite visual, and keeps the reader connected to the characters and interested in their evolution. Some of the pages are quite moving, such as the chapters that describe the death and the funeral of Mark’s father. I liked Mark’s character development, but I felt that the other characters were black and white, they were either good or bad. I would of appreciated more nuance.
The abundance of details related to basketball was a little overwhelming at times, for instance the descriptions of some of Mark’s games, a lot of information about game strategies and techniques, or about famous players. Any avid fan of basketball will appreciate the interesting facts and minute by minute break down of the games. This is an engaging and thought provoking coming of age basketball story that is sure to appeal to teens and sports fans.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B07GX8B4T2
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Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black is a children’s story written by Norman Whaler. The story follows a duo of livestock buddies, Oink the pig and Gobble the turkey. Oink is an excitable young creature, and Gobble is more mature and a bit on the serious side. The two find some unusual things happening on the farm and Oink cannot contain his curiosity and must look for answers.
I think the story has a pretty good pace and flow for children, but seems to rise and build suspense and then end abruptly. I think there was some room for some more scenarios to play out following the “unmasking.” I did like the friendship between the pair despite their differences. I liked that the pig was overly curious while the turkey was more reserved. That made way for a nice back and forth exchange in conversation.
The illustrations were cute but the colors seemed over saturated. I think softening things up a bit would add to the playfulness of the farm. The “Men in Black” aspect felt borrowed and I was wanted to see some Oink and Gobble specific twists to the story.
I love the authors work and I think Oink and Gobble has huge potential to be something both whimsical and unique. I’d like to see Oink and Gobble in original story lines that give their relationship and whimsy potential to stand out. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think kids will adore Oink and Gobble as they are both fun and funny.
Pages: 28 | ASIN: B07PBMNYKS
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For the Love of Self: The Proven Tools and Strategies for Healing My Life is exactly what the title implies: a story of how the author, Kaylene Hay, healed herself with her thoughts and practices. Hay describes herself as an intuitive healer. She claims to have healed many of her own illnesses and works on healing the illnesses of others without surgeries or drugs. In this book she describes many incidents where she says she healed herself.
In the book, the author sums up her beliefs by saying, “I believe that, with the help of my Angels, guides, and spirit family, I chose the perfect set of circumstances for my soul’s growth before coming into this life.” She continues on to say that everything that happens to a person is meant to be and that the way we experience life is how we were meant to experience it. She does not believe that the environment we are raised in has anything to do with what happens to us. She also believes heavily in the power of numbers and discusses at length the significance of dates in her stories.
This book, and the methods described within, rely heavily on positive thinking and how our thoughts impact our health. The author reiterates time and again that one must think it for it to happen. I see no drawbacks to thinking positively in life. While I would not rely solely on positive thoughts to cure my cancer, I believe that thinking positively cannot hurt as an addition to medically treating the disease.
Throughout the book the author presented her methods as ‘proven’ but there were no references to outside sources that corroborated her finding. All methods that were ‘proven’ in the book seemed to have been ratified by the authors own experiences. I would have liked to see more references to other studies done by other groups of researchers that substantiate her findings. I am willing to admit that, while I see no proof it is true, I also cannot prove it is not true.
The book could be a great read for someone who believes in the power of positive thinking and is seeking an alternative medicine approach to healing, but I would add caution and suggest you always seek medical treatment in conjunction with the methods provided in this book. I believe that how one receives this story is dependent on one’s belief system when it comes to illness and treatments for those illnesses.
Pages: 94 | ASIN: B07JJ6LPQN
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The Immortal Queen follows first, the life of Endya, an elven warrior with demon magic. Although plagued with prejudices, Endya finds her soulmate and becomes a leader that the kingdom of Sundregham never wanted. Elizabeth, on the other hand, grew up on Earth with a normal life. Her own nightmares reveal to her that life on earth is about to be thrust into chaos. Both women are needed as dark forces seek to end all of existence. Worlds collide and every kind of magic imaginable is released on Earth as war begins. Even the gods themselves are on the edge of their seats as the final encounter arises.
The Immortal Queen has the potential to be a best selling fantasy novel. Complete with magic and guns, queens and intrigue, even gods and demons. This book combines lore from several fantasy sub-genres and mashes them into one, making this a highly ambitious epic fantasy novel. However, at times I felt that there was too much going on in this story and felt like some things were not explained completely. While the magic in itself isn’t always meant to be understood, I would have liked to have a better understanding of how things worked because what is presented is intriguing.
As the story jumps from scene to scene with little background information, I spent my time trying to figure out where and when a scene took place. This is exacerbated by the fact that halfway through the story all the main characters names were changed.
The Immortal Queen has huge potential to be on par with other high fantasy novels, which is a genre I enjoy. I love it when worlds collide and there are seemingly infinite types of magic. Near the end of the book, dragon riders were even introduced and I almost squealed in delight. There is a constant stream of action throughout the story that kept me interested and was one of the main factors in getting me flipping pages.
Pages: 426 | ASIN: B07N1PW8KL
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Ruby Ransom is equal parts mystery and equal parts adventure spiced with a bit of romance. What starts as just another night in the hospital is the start of a series of thrilling events that will send young nurse Rachel to an exotic country where she must face down rebels to help save a kidnapped child. All of this delivered in a little over 100 pages.
This story starts slows but, like an airplane taking off, quickly picks up speed. The twists come just as quickly as Rachel, and the reader, is given new information. Each new chapter brings a new and unexpected direction to her journey. All the while driven by the need to help a child that’s been kidnapped under mysterious circumstances in a far-off country.
Rachel receives helps along the way from her grandmother, and an old friend of the family, and a young man that ends up being much more than he first appears. I felt that Rachel’s character, overtime, was the most developed, but other characters lacked the depth that Rachel was given.
The story is told from Rachel’s first person perspective in a straightforward manner. Like a nurse who must keep logs of patients, the story is told in a similar manner, as if it’s a log of events that happened. Because of this I felt like the delivery of this otherwise intriguing story was stilted. Rachel is given vital plot driving information in large sections of exposition. But in this manner of story telling the book is consistent.
While every good mystery novel must have twists that the reader doesn’t see coming. I can honestly say that every twist in this book surprised me. I, along with Rachel, wanted to know what was going on and I was glad that Rachel and I (the reader) were on the same page. While Rachel is whisked along on this perilous journey through exotic locales, we get to learn a little about the region and local culture, which I appreciated.
Ruby Ransom delivers a circuitous yet thrilling journey set against an exotic location in an unambiguous way. Perfect for anyone looking for a romantic suspense novel that is easy to devour in a day or two.
Pages: 104 | ASIN: B00HZNG9L4
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The Aristocrat by Regine Dubono is a short story about a girl named Marianne Maywee, who lives with her family (including her younger sister, Paula) in Nice, France. One day an older man appeared in their lives and introduced himself as their godfather, Mr. Giles. Marianne and Paula go on many outings with Mr. Giles, until the day he does not come to their house as expected. Marianne learns that he’s in the hospital and she goes to visit him. Will this be the end of their enjoyable outings together?
I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the sights Marianne saw on her outings and the places she visited with her sister, Paula, and Mr. Giles. The book was an interesting and quick read, but I wished that the story had been longer. The ending was too abrupt, and there were still questions that I had hoped to have answered.
I was confused by the hint of romantic interest for Marianne from Mr. Giles. I wasn’t sure if he actually had romantic thoughts regarding her or if it was only an incorrect impression she got from some of their interactions.
I encountered a few run-on sentences, some issues with grammar and a few typos and inconsistencies; (On one page, it was stated that Marianne and Paula were born eleven months apart, but then on the next page, twenty months separated their ages).
Overall this a quick and interesting outing with Marianne and Mr. Giles.
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Friends of the Tsar, by Jon de Graaff, is a story about the author’s “Aristocratic Grandparent’s harrowing escape from the Russian Revolution of February 1917.” The story starts near Petrograd, Russia in 1916 with Vera and George, with George and his mother, Adelaide, saving Vera from a wolf attack. They are at the country estate of George’s father, Baron Alexander Zuckschwerdt. Adelaide and Alexander are very much aristocrats. Vera and George are not on board with the aristocratic ways of their parents. Vera, who also came from an aristocratic family, started rejecting her parents’ ways after Bloody Sunday when even children were killed during a protest.
Vera has ten sisters. Three of them come to stay with her. Monica is 16. Mary is 15. Natty is 10. Vera often gets strong premonitions when something bad is about to happen. Blue is Alexander’s friend. He is an Australian cattle breeder. He comes to stay as well. Blue saves Natty from choking. He learned how to do it on a chance visit with friends. Vera sees it as meant to be. Blue tells story after story of things that happened that seem to have a lot of coincidences. Vera does not see them as coincidences at all. He dismissed them as being luck in the past. He now thinks differently.
The family finds itself in trouble. The country is in trouble. Their money is not worth as much. The people in the country are starving. The family decides that they need to leave. Blue offers to let them stay with him in Australia. Alexander books passage for himself, George, Blue, Vera and the girls for February 27, 1917. The story goes on from there to cover how they escaped and the challenges they faced as they did.
I felt that the story could not decide on what the book was going to be. As I went from chapter to chapter, I felt like many of the chapters could have been stand-alone chapters and were not connected very well. It lacked continuity. There are different stories being told that don’t seem to reach any conclusions. At first, I thought the book was going to be a love story about Vera and George. After the first chapter or so, they seemed forgotten and the book focused on Blue’s stories. Then it would jump to near misses while trying to escape and spy stories. I found myself confused a few time. The language seemed a bit stilted and formal and did not flow like normal dialogue in places.
There is a good story in the book though it would benefit from a bit more organization. The author writes well. Some of the stories were definitely interesting. Some of the story lines had definite possibility and begged for further development as the characters were intriguing and were usually placed in exotic locations.
Pages: 126 | ASIN: B071ZQ6CG8
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Project Purple by Michael Greco is a fictional story about thirteen Americans who agree to take part in a social experience (called Project Purple), with their every action filmed and viewed live for the entertainment of the world. The thirteen people will relive an authentic colonial life of American pilgrims (in the year 1613) for four months, with the viewers as the ‘fourteenth colonist.’ The thirteen colonists must build a colony with twelve other strangers, figuring out how to work together. One of the colonists is Henrietta Dobie, known in the colony as Goatwench. But the colonists were lied to and none of them know the truth about the real purpose of the Project. When Rigor, a detective in Las Vegas, is sent a video of the horrific circumstances Goatwench is forced to endure, he’s determined to put a stop to the Project. But the organizers of the Project will stop at nothing to reach their own ends.
The premise of the book was intriguing, and the story kept my interest. I wanted to know what would happen next for the colonists–would any of them survive? It was interesting to see how human nature played out as the different characters reacted to the difficult–and then deadly–situation they found themselves in. I liked that the author told the story from the point of view of several different colonists, which gave much more insight into the individual characters.
I liked the historical aspect of the story. I enjoyed reading details about the clothing, daily tasks, and customs of American colonial life.
The sadistic actions of the people who created Project Purple were detestable; putting thirteen wholly unprepared people into that situation without their full knowledge and consent for the sole purpose of so-called entertainment for the viewing audience and to further the organization’s own agenda.
The story started out slow, with a lot of set up about the detective’s life in Las Vegas and leading into the beginning of Project Purple. The book felt a bit disjointed, jumping back and forth in time, and jumping between the detective and the colonists. It might have improved the flow of the story if the author had started out with the colonists embarking on Project Purple, and once things started to go wrong, then the detective could have been introduced when he received the first video. In the end this is an intriguing exploration of human motivations that plumbs the depths of humanity.
Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07K7N5M2D
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