Category Archives: Three Stars

The Lethal Elixir

The Lethal Elixir by Dennis Ross is a mystery romance novel that follows the events of a strange outbreak at Deaconess Hospital in Chicago. First, a man is brought in ailing from an unknown disease, prompting the staff to call on Dr. Maggie Hamilton, one of their Infectious Diseases specialists, for a diagnosis. Unfortunately, it is discovered the man has an altered strain of Ebola. Soon more people are found with the strain, sending the hospital into an outbreak scenario. In their search for answers to the origins, Maggie teams up with the FBI, led by Agent Matthew Johnson. As the pair investigate the possible source of Ebola, they uncover a nefarious plot on the nation and possibly find love along the way.

I find Maggie to be everything I’m looking for in a leading lady: a smart, stand on your own kind of woman. She’s the head of her field and quickly takes charge. Matthew Mack, to most people, is a great leading man. He’s described as strong and handsome, but he’s also not afraid to show his creative side in things like dancing. These are unique characters who compliment each other well. I also liked the medical side of the story. It was well researched for that genuine “I could believe I’m in a hospital right now” feel. I also loved that we saw from the villains’ side of the story. It kept me interested in reading and wondering if our pair would stave off the dark plot we saw unfurling.

While the concept of the novel is stellar, I didn’t feel like the mechanics of the story succeeded in conveying that concept in a way that was equally compelling. I felt that the dialogue could have used some of the creativity that went into the plot to breakup the otherwise stiff writing. This is a medical thriller so there is a lot of technical medical jargon that is being used, which provides an authentic feel to the story, but I would have liked a medical term dictionary at the back of the book to help me understand the technical terms.

This fast-paced novel is an instalove romance. The characters fall in love quickly, and given that they are rushing to stop an epidemic, this feels plausible. The high-stress conditions, and working closely with someone you find attractive, set them up for romance while still getting their job done. The relationship adds to the drama of the plot rather than overtaking it.

The Lethal Elixir is a dramatic medical mystery novel that feels realistic. The attention to detail with the medical conditions adds credibility to the story. In addition, readers will get caught up in the whirlwind romance of the characters as they work to stop a worldwide epidemic.

Pages: 280 | ASIN : B09CD4669N

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Raymond Graf’s Treezz is a novel that touches on some of the prominent issues of our time, and sees sentient trees, or Treezz, making the decision to work alongside humans in order to combat humanity’s greed and propensity for environmental destruction which threatens their existence. Jeremiah Simpson and Becca Carlsbad, the duo chosen as representatives by the Treezz, join with wealthy entrepreneur siblings Robert and Elaina McAlister, who have put together a team of scientists to devise free herbal medications and establish environmental conservation areas to protect the Treezz. Along the way, they build relationships and antagonize corporations.

Treezz is a poignant sci-fi story with an important message concerning the sustainability of humanity’s treatment of our planet. It gives a telepathic voices to the Treezz and asks what they might say if they could communicate with the species which is cutting them down for profit. Interestingly, given their willingness to take physical action when the need arises, the Treezz choose to work collaboratively and peacefully with humans through their champions.

Characterization in Treezz is good overall, with the main characters having distinct voices. Becca is one of the more believable characters as a quirky young woman who speaks her mind, often to the surprise of other characters. I felt that the emphasis on how young she looks coupled with how attractive she is (only after a makeover) to be a belabored point that is reflective of narrow societal views on femininity, and the author does a great job of showing the objectification of females frequently throughout the story, which causes readers to reflect on how points of view change our perspectives of individuals.

Dialogue from one of the most important parties, the Treezz, is rare as they are reduced to the role of an overseer, sharing whatever secrets Jeremiah needs to drive the work of the scientists forward in moments that are told to readers. I would have loved to have seen the important message of environmental awareness and conservation expanded on because what the author does give us is very interesting and the idea of interspecies communication is throughout-provoking and begs to be explored further. However, I did enjoy the herbal remedies focus, as I did find it intriguing and felt that it did provide some structure to the storyline.

Treezz is a unique science fiction adventure novel that looks at some of the current-day environmental issues we are facing. The relevant topics combined with genetic engineering and science fiction make this a fascinating read for those that love environmental thrillers and want to see a glimmer of hope for restoring the environment to its healthy state.

Pages: 352 | ASIN : B09N4QX8K1

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Gary The Go-Cart: Wind Blows/Carbon Comes out of the Closet

In B B Denson’s first book, Gary the Go-Cart: Wind Blows, Gary is hard on his luck. He wants to be helpful and make special deliveries for a living. The only problem is driving uphill. He has no engine power to make it up those steep inclines, so Gary goes on a journey of discovery and finds the perfect energy source to get him up those tricky hills.

Denson’s book sends an important message to kids about the environment and how important it is to do your research when going green. When one option may work for someone else, it does not always work for everyone. This book is light-hearted and kid-friendly. The book provides a good wholesome environment for kids to learn about difficult topics. While I thought the story was charming, I found it a little confusing that the pinwheels represented windmills, but I know that this makes it easier for children to understand.

In Denson’s second book, Gary The Go-Cart: Carbon Comes out of the Closet, Gary is told he cannot emit carbon fumes anymore. So, he buys himself this handy-dandy new carbon machine that will store all his carbon in the closet. In his struggle to store his carbon, Gary finds he loses more and more money every day to the carbon machine. Gary needs to think long and hard about why it is so important to store his carbon.

Carbon Comes out of the Closet is an interesting story on a hot topic that is the cause of a lot of debate lately, and it is important to be very clear when discussing the subject as there is a lot of nuances that have large effects. Carbon Comes out of the Closet does an admirable job of trying to distill a large and complex idea down so that children can understand it. While it answers some questions, it leaves others up to parents, but I would have appreciated a child appropriate answer to why Gary decides to stop storing his carbon. This is an amiable story with a charismatic protagonist that attempts to answer a variety of tough questions.

Overall, I found both books to be adorable and could be the starting point for a good discussion about the environment. The author uses rhyming couplets for both books to keep children engaged. The illustrations are also well drawn and eye-catching and I think children will really enjoy looking at them as their parents read the story to them.

Pages: 70 | ISBN: 0997588365

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The Smiles and Tears of Love

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The Smiles and Tears of Love, written by Ray Cantan, follows Mabel Fox’s life. Starting with devastating news as an adult, the author changes directions and takes us back in time to right before Mabel was born. We get to read about Mabel as she grows up as a small child living with her parents in Tullow, Ireland. As she gets older, she moves in with her aunt in Curragh, where she learns to become a lady.  As the story goes on Mabel marries the soldier of her dreams. Life brings her many ups and downs as she navigates life as a military wife. Mabel even has a steamy fling with a married man.

I want to say first that the overall story was spectacular. I really enjoyed reading about Mabel’s life from right before she was born to where it ended. It is rare to read a book that starts off with so much information at the beginning. I feel like it really builds up the character, and you can get to know their personality very well. Her character was very well developed, and it felt natural. I would have thought I was reading about a real person if it wasn’t stated that it was a work of fiction.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the story and plotline of this interesting book, I felt like there wasn’t much of a description of what Mabel looked like. I had a hard time envisioning her appearance. I know the styles of the Victorian and Edwardian Era, so the outfits were easy to picture in my mind. I feel that the story would benefit from another editing and proofreading as well to correct some grammar, incomplete sentences and some repeated chapters.

The Smiles and Tears of Love is, overall, an exquisite family saga. Once the author polishes up the manuscript this will be a wonderful novel that readers of historical fiction will be drawn to with its attention to detail of the period and strong relatable characters that readers will feel like they know personally.

Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest 

Joseph and Eric can’t wait to start their summer vacation filled with video games and pizza ’til sunrise. But when the two best friends receive an unexpected invitation to try out the most anticipated game of the year at an exclusive tropical island resort, they jump at the opportunity. However, once they arrive, they are thrown into a fantastical adventure where nothing is what it seems. Friends and foes must be sorted, puzzles deciphered, and their own hidden abilities discovered. They will have to fight with all they have because life is not a video game, and there’s no respawning.

In Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest, author J.T. Tenera gives us a “finding one’s true self” adventure filled with action and video game references. The main characters go through various settings trying to stop an evil force from being released into the world. There are moments of calm in the book while the main characters enjoy a tropical vacation and meet new friends, followed by fast-paced danger when they encounter enemies much stronger than they are. The heroes are never guaranteed a win in their fights and end up seriously hurt at times. Characters “level up” throughout the book, just as video game characters would. In fact, the book is filled with references to video games – “tutorials” where they learn about hidden abilities and magic spells, new weapons and items found during quests, and a band of characters with specialized skills.

Younger readers may also connect to game streaming references, with one of the main characters trying to build a subscriber base. I felt at times there were many cryptic messages and long-winded explanations that didn’t add much to the storyline. Young readers will find characters they can identify and relate to, such as the arrogant, wealthy classmate with a posse and a slightly crazy scientist/professor with exploding inventions.

Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest ends with many questions unanswered. This is the perfect lead-in to the next book in the series. This coming-of-age novel for young adults will entertain them with action and adventure on a topic they love, video games.

Pages: 297 | ASIN : B09DMFR44V

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Pages and Leaflets of North Oxfordshire

Pages and Leaflets of North Oxfordshire: My Lineage Pre 1700-1959 by Angela Fortnum is a book on family lineage and history. Fortnum was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Throughout her life, she has taken up several roles. After completing her schooling, she worked in a bank, took early retirement, and did a health and social care course. However, it wasn’t until her mother’s death that her interest in genealogy was rekindled that ultimately led her to write the book that explores her ancestry, going back to her seventh maternal great grandfather (GGF) and finally concludes with her mother and herself.

Fortnums exploration started off as a simple curiosity about her history; it was only when she started with her research that she realized that there was a story to tell and decided to publish the book as we see it today for the interest of the family historians. The book explores the gradual transition over eight generations from agricultural laborers to self-employed to smallholders and a change in religious beliefs, which stays an essential theme throughout the book. Fortnum’s ancestors have worked in various occupations, been affiliated with different churches, and passed on numerous possessions down the family line, the original account of which has been provided wherever possible in the text.

The text is supplemented by original and unabridged documents. It also provides photos of the churches and directions for those curious and who wish to dive deeper into the local history. I would have liked to have seen topics of general interest or more details about the historical events from the ancestors’ perspective and the impact on their general routine. This insightful book is a fascinating family account filled with photos and historical documents.

Pages and Leaflets of North Oxfordshire: My Lineage Pre 1700-1959 would benefit those doing an in-depth academic pursuit of genealogy. It provides readers with examples of how to put together a family genealogy history and examples of what documents to look for.

Pages: 53 | ASIN : B07HMTFL3M

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C# Via the Happy Path

T. Cloudhorn makes programming seem easy for everyone. The author starts the book by introducing the reader to tech words, programming phrases, and new terms, and he goes further to explain how they function. Readers will love this book because it is not just for busy undergraduates but also for any beginner that wants to learn more about the C# language.

While going through the book, readers will learn about the coding concepts that are needed to build a foundation for successful programming in C#. The author explains even the most complex terminologies in a manner that those that are just starting out with programming can comprehend.

Included in this educational book are appealing and clear illustrations to help the reader understand object-oriented programming concepts. With simple language and concise explanations you will not feel lost while reading this book. T. Cloudhorn explains everything that needs to be explained in either text or visual methods.

In one section of this enlightening book, the author explains the difference between compilers, interpreters, and hybrid language systems. Other topics of importance that are included are learning about classes, generics, inheritance, interfaces, delegates, and events and why you would need to use them. If you are struggling to differentiate those mentioned above, this book is for you.

C# Via the Happy Path: Conversational style book for the busy (undergrad) student will help aspiring programmers learn about different programming concepts. This is a great educational resource for anyone just starting their programming journey, or for programmers who have been out of the programming space for some time and need a refresher, to better understand object-oriented programming.

Pages: 261 | ASIN : B09MN8V248

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Becoming Soul

Becoming Soul by El Alma is an intriguing book that reminds us of the simplicity of life. Before the modern age and having technology at our fingertips, we as humans were connected to our god. Our soul is the one being reborn with a purpose that is chosen before we enter this earthly life. After we are born, we forget this purpose to learn from our experiences in an unbiased view; thus, we settle into our life here on Earth, unaware at the beginning of how we arrived at this point or why we are even here. The book starts with a striking opening, ‘We start our journeys long before we arrive on Earth, for we are eternal consciousnesses.’ This take on life makes readers think back on their past experiences and contemplate their beliefs on life and the afterlife.

The author describes seven steps to reach Heaven and be together with the mother of all. These seven steps are Silence, Hope, Suffering, Loss, Survival, Believe, and finally, Heaven. This process, however, is not as easy as it sounds. Comparing and contrasting with Jesus’ journey, the author tells the tale of Asina. She embarks on her journey, where she almost gives up her quest for reaching the mother. There are times she thinks of ending her life and pursuit, but with the guidance of her guardian angels, she climbs one step after another in her journey to Heaven. This complex novel gives readers hope that even in your darkest moments, you can pull through and find the light that will lead you to answers and enlightenment.

Throughout the book, we also follow the story of women connected to Asina. Ezara, her grandmother, and Nettie, her own daughter. Both of these women, too, live through their seven steps, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see them suffer, but it is unrealistic to imagine a life without ups and downs. Yet, these moments strengthen the soul and your courage and determination to fight and survive till the end. The realistic approach to life without sugar-coating one’s existence will allow readers to take with them seeds of hope that the darkest moments of your life are part of the lessons your soul came to Earth to learn.

Becoming Soul is a beautiful story, and El Alma’s style is relatively easy to grasp. The characters show substantial development throughout the story, and at the end, the reader is left wondering and reflecting on their own journey and existence on Earth. Readers of inspirational fiction, new age fiction, or religious spirituality will find this an inspiring and thought-provoking novel.

Pages: 103 | ASIN : B085DHJC62

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