Category Archives: Three Stars

103 Simple Poems From One Simple Person

With a collection of singular point of view narratives the author, Mayne Leitzer, offers his first complete book of poetry; 103 Simple Poems From One Simple Person. The book is sectioned into chapters outlining the types of poems that follow, what those writings mean to the author, and how they came to be. The title is indicative of the style of writing, not the writer, as the poetry is fairly simple; using straight forward thoughts and uncomplicated prose to reflect on life’s complications. The story arc is more of a summation of personal perspective and reflection than a journey forward or illustration of action.

In penning “103 Simple Poems” Mayne Leitzer offers up self reflection, self deprecation, a heavy dollop of fundamentalist religious dogma, and more than a little bit of sadness and remorse, with a glimmer of joy and hope.

Many of his poems are jargon one could find on a motivational poster or greeting card, but that is not at all bad. Life can get messy and sometimes people need soft, plushy words to find comfort and solace. The reader will find many situations that they can relate to; lost love, death, pursuing success, loneliness, finding your destiny, conflict of conviction, etc.

However, there are many poems that can be divisive. Sex before marriage, gun control, abortion, prayer in school, Heaven and Hell, those types of things. The thoughts Leitzer lays out are organic in nature and not derived of a need to be quoted for inspirational prose or to start a deep conversation, but rather, just as he states; a need to express his soul at different stages in life.

Some poems showcase the more complex layers of his humanity that struggle to shine under the dominance of a narrow vision.  The Promised Land poem is thoughtful and embraceable. Not a Bad Day and One Moonlit Night lets out his optimistic side which he admits is not in his nature. Leitzer is honest about his mistakes and his struggle with alcoholism. His love poems are truly good; especially Seasons, A Smile and Rock A-bye.

There are a few grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors, which are distracting as is his zealous religious fervor, but his writings let the reader feel his authenticity and the last few poems wrap up nicely to summarize his goal and wishes for success.

This book uses simple and fluid style to expand peoples emotional depths but seemed content to keep its voice generalized. The individual writings have value no matter your religious leanings. At the end the reader will come away with some reflections of their own and maybe, quote a few lines for their own stages of life.

Pages: 124 | ISBN: 1425979149

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Adventures of the Cabin Kids: 88 Mountain View Cir.

Adventures of the Cabin Kids: 88 Mountain View Cir. by [Lipscomb, Zachary]

Adventures of the Cabin Kids follows a group of children, known as the Cabin Kids, through various adventures they experience during their time at 88 Mountain View Cir. They are the fun childish adventures kids often have when left to roam the woods. They meet wildlife, explore the woods, and have to deal with a trio of bullies called the Field Boys that try to chase them off their mountain. By coming together as a team the Cabin Kids are able to beat the Field Boys at their own game. All the while they have to make sure they are back home for supper.

Any grade school child would enjoy this book. From beginning to end it’s filled with the kinds of ‘adventures’ experienced when exploring the woods. They are minor things, like helping a deer and following train tracks to see where they lead, but the book presents these in such a way that each holds it’s own unique interest to the Cabin Kids.

The Cabin Kids are supportive, helpful, and kind to one another. These are exactly the kinds of family and friends you want with you as a kid. The kids are cute, in their mannerisms, and in how they utterly support one another. The illustrations certainly help sell this point. Each illustration in the book looks as if it was drawn by the kids themselves and fits the story perfectly. I wish that there were more illustrations that showcased more of the memorable moments in the story.

The ideas presented are simple and easy to understand for any child. While the motives are sometimes vague, the emotions and actions of the children are something that sets this story apart from many other stories of this genre. Honest and kind to the core. When the Field Boys show up, you can tell they are definitely trouble and the challenges that ensue are sure to cause reflection of playground games in any child.

Adventures of the Cabin Kids showcases the complete support and friendship kids can have toward one another. Foregoing any challenges or drama within the group and instead focusing on the intrigue and wonder of the forest and what could be waiting just down the next trail.

Pages: 24 | ASIN: B07965DQJ9

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Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power

Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power by [Afman, Joan Conning]

Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power By Joan Conning Afman is a contemporary story set in West Palm Beach, Florida. The books starts with Mel Martinelli and Sam Abrams, two unethical businessmen, looking for an up-and-coming politician to groom for state senate. They want a man they can control, who will serve their own interests. They decide that David Shepherd, a young, handsome lawyer is the ideal candidate. David insists that he will not be a party to anything illegal, and with their insincere assurance that they would never ask him to do anything like that, he agrees to their proposal to fund his campaign. Mel goes so far in his machinations as to encourage a romantic relationship between his daughter, Michelle, and David, which eventually leads to marriage. Will David’s ambitions cause him to act contrary to his beliefs? Or will he stand firm against others’ attempts to compromise his determination to do what is right?

Michelle Martinelli is a controversial character that had me shaking my head at the beginning of the story. She was entitled and snobbish, with no ambition and was supported by her rich father. She was a character perfectly created to be hated. She was drawn to a man based on his looks alone, without any thought for what kind of person he was. What I really enjoy about the characters in this book is how they evolve over time. Michelle starts to develop some redeeming qualities as time passes, although still unlikable, I was impressed with how well developed here character was.

While the books started with me loathing Michelle, I had the opposite feeling of David Shepherd. He seemed to be an ethical man who refused to comprise his principles for others. But as the story progressed, he abandons his scruples and becomes corrupted by power. This slow decline into the very worst sort of politician reveals how someone can change, and the contrast is stark and revealing–accepting bribes, having an adulterous affair, fathering a child with a woman who was not his wife, contemplating and condoning murder to further his own ends.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, it flowed easily and was frank and to the point with only a few editing issues. The story was well paced but there were a few sections where I would have enjoyed a little bit more information before the story moved on. The story follows the development of the characters over the course of more than twenty years so there were points where there are large time jumps leaving me with a few questions in an otherwise well written story.

This is a fascinating story that examines how people change over time. This is a character driven story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes stories that put humanity to the test. 

Pages: 190 | ASIN: B0793QKWYF

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Love’s Story of Why We Are Here

Love's Story of Why We Are Here: And What We Can Do About It (Making Sense of It Book 3) by [O'Neill, Francis]

Why are we here? Where did we come from? Is there a bigger picture than the existence that we know? Is human life purposeful? Humans have contemplated the answer to these questions, and others that are similar, for much of our history. Here, author Francis O’Neill makes his own attempts to provide answers through a mixture of science, religion, the supernatural, and some ancient mythology. O’Neill’s theories lead to a definitive “yes, we are here for a reason”, but the journey to his conclusion is more interesting than the resolution itself.

In Love’s Story of Why We Are Here, O’Neill explores one of humanity’s most philosophical conundrums from a wide variety of angles. By his own admission, the theories that are proposed are speculative, and therefore untestable. For that reason, much of what he provides as answers can’t be considered true science. Many might argue that there is no science involved at all since much of the book focuses on the idea of a living Earth (not terribly far-fetched) and the importance of extraterrestrial life in human evolution. Despite the very unusual ideas that are discussed, O’Neill’s theories are presented in a well researched and organized manner, often including quotes from well known scientists in a plethora of fields. The professionalism of his work protects the subject matter from ridicule. The excessive use of commas throughout the book seems to imply a casual, conversational tone but instead creates long and circuitous sentences which often hide O’Neill’s intended meaning. I had to read many sentences multiple times, which interrupted the flow of the text and made it difficult to comprehend some of the concepts.

The theme of this book is simple- existence, purpose, and an explanation for both. Curiosity is a basic human trait that propels us forward and O’Neill uses that interest in the unknown to explore these ideas from a fresh standpoint. While some of what he discusses is not exactly new, he creates a fresh combination out of multiple theories that have been proposed in the past. It is also interesting that he uses both science and religion to support his theories, since those two schools of thought are typically contradictory.

There were parts that laid out simple rules for happiness and self-care, which everyone could stand to be reminded of. There was also a quick lesson on quantum theory that is thorough yet simplified, and incredibly interesting. Ultimately though, much of the book had a very new age and enigmatic feel. While this would be appealing to readers that are already interested in such subjects, it would likely make very few converts out of those that are not.

Pages: 163 | ASIN: B07FDG9FSL

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Gain Weight… Lose Your Mate

Gain Weight…Lose Your Mate by [Turner, Carl]

Life happens. We all know this and generally don’t have to be reminded of this truth. Along with the rigors of work, family, and relationships come changes in metabolism and eating habits. Women seem to bear the brunt of these changes with weight gain following the transition into marriage and motherhood. Make no mistake about it, women are well aware of the changes their bodies undergo, and they are hyper aware of the impact their weight gain has on relationships and their overall health. Whether women work to lose weight or not, they don’t need reminding that their bodies are changing in ways they may not necessarily like.

Carl Turner’s Gain Weight…Lose Your Mate examines the tendency of women to gain weight and focus less on maintaining the size they were upon entering the relationship with their mate or spouse. Turner spends a significant amount of time examining men’s awe regarding their girlfriends’ and wives’ seeming unwillingness to lose weight following childbirth. Though I understand some of the reasoning Turner sets forth, he focuses rather relentlessly on the desire men have to see their wives lose the baby weight.

Another aspect of Turner’s writing lies in the fact that he relates men’s feelings to the physical appearance of their wives and girlfriends. According to the author, there is a certain level of happiness most men feel as a direct result of their wives’ physical appearance, and that level of happiness is negatively impacted by their choices not to pursue exercise and healthier eating habits.

Peppered throughout Turner’s book are scenarios and examples of couples coping with the woman’s weight gain. Turner presents these situations in order to better illustrate his point but succeeds only in making men look more and self-centered. In once such scenario, Turner introduces a brief scene in which one man tells his wife that he will leave his wife alone with their children if she keeps her weight as is and doesn’t find a way to drop the extra weight she gained after having the two children. Sharing this story would have been effective had Turner used it to explain the selfishness behind the man’s comments. However, Turner goes on to explain that men don’t care what their mates eat as long as their weight/appearance is not negatively affected in their opinions.

Turner does include research-based measures and manages to warn readers of the consequences of obesity and the ensuing health conditions which result from overeating and failing to exercise regularly.

Turner’s writing style is straightforward and polished. Overall, I am mortified by the tone taken by the author and feel the writing lacks solid advice to rectify an issue rather than pointing out that there is a problem. His point of view is well crafted and easily understood.

Pages: 140 | ASIN: B079K5D4FY

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Beloved Mother

Beloved Mother

Beloved Mother by Laura Hunter is a saga that follows the lives of several members of the Parsons, a poor coal-mining family. The story begins in Covington, Virginia in 1923 when thirteen-year-old Mona Parsons is taken away to Carolina by Jackson Slocomb. He abuses her, and she’s rescued by a Native American man named Walks in Tall Corn. He takes her in and raises her son, Briar, as his own. Ten years later, Tall Corn is injured in a farming accident and his wound becomes infected. He dies and Mona (River of Two Tears) returns to Covington, but her father doesn’t welcome her. She and her son end up in a coal mining town, Breakline Mining Camp. Mona’s younger sister, Anna, runs away with Clint, and they end up in in the coal mining town, too. But although Two Tears and Anna interact and live in close proximity to each other for many years, they never realized that the other is their sister. Told from a number of different points of view, this book spans generations and decades, even going back in time to earlier generations.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and her vivid descriptions drew me into the story. I liked the bits of history that the author added throughout the book. The story touched on a number of different time periods, from the great depression and World War II to the mid 1800’s.

I enjoyed the Native American aspect of the book–the Great Spirit, Sister Sun and Brother Moon, and the Cherokee medicine woman (called a Beloved Mother). It added an interesting element to the story that I would have loved to read more of. The characters lives were hard, as they struggled to scrape by, but I felt that most were selfish, thinking of their own wants and needs, in desires to get ahead. There is a lot of colorful, and questionable relationships, from adulterous affairs to a twenty-six-year-old man married to a thirteen-year-old girl, and an older man with romantic feelings for his young half-sister–though he was unaware of their connection. This made it hard for me to relate to, although I certainly appreciated, the characters.

Overall, this is an emotional story that pulls at your heart. I would have enjoyed a more uplifting theme, if not a few moments. There were a number of deaths, and very few characters were still alive by the end of the story, but I suppose… such is life.

ISBN: 9781949711097

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Functional Nutrients for Brain Health

Functional Nutrients For Brain Health (Diet Planning for Brain Health Book 2) by [Kumar, Shantha]

It’s fascinating and scary thinking that the center of our bodies can contemplate its own demise. Our brains can study, research, and fear ailments like cancer and Alzheimer’s. And finding a healthy combination of these reactions might be our best chance at avoiding these terrible conditions. Dr. Shantha Kumar’s Functional Nutrients for Brain Health: A Vegetarian Perspective seeks to help readers find that balance.

Dr. Kumar undertakes a noble, yet challenging, task: helping the mind keep pace with a body that continues to live longer and longer. To do this, she applies her knowledge and experience to a full body type of medicine. In other words, the book’s advice goes beyond nutrition and includes commentary on exercise, sleep, and stress. In our current hashtag nutrition culture, where foods are elevated to savior status with little to no explanation, Dr. Kumar’s words become particularly refreshing. Take this passage for instance, “Olive oil is an Omega-9 monounsaturated fat which is a healthy option for the brain, although it is more cholesterol genetic (increasing blood cholesterol) than other unsaturated fats” (12). Rather than just uplift olive oil as a cure-all superfood, she takes the time to explain how some substances that increase brain health can simultaneously put other parts of the body under duress.

Additionally, the book provides a wealth of nutritional information that though aimed at vegetarians can apply to anyone. I particularly liked the section on fruits – which she lists hierarchically to indicate that not all fruits contribute to the same level of brain health. Just as useful was what food to avoid. I’ve heard a lot about why I shouldn’t eat artificial sweeteners or food coloring, but only now do I know it’s because they “increase free radical formation” and can “trigger generalized allergic reactions” (24).

Unfortunately, this fantastic information is buried in technical jargon. It’s not unusual to come across passages like, “the major apolipoprotein constituent of HDL-like particles in the CNS is ApoE which transports cholesterol and other lipids made by astrocytes and microglial cells to neurons” (14). Passages like the one above, as well as charts that occasionally stretch on for multiple pages, can discourage the average reader. In fact, one might think the book is intended for a professional audience were it not for the lack of sources backing up the information. Dr. Kumar is upfront about this approach. But this combination of medical terms and missing sources leaves the book in a weird middle ground: too complicated for average readers; too simple for medical experts.

Yet, discouraged readers should commit to reaching chapter four’s “Menu Planning Criteria and Strategies.” Here Dr. Kumar breaks away from the medical jargon and dives into specific dos and don’ts of brain health. This chapter transitions into recipes – which again prove more useful than the early sections of the book: even this meat loving reviewer admits that the bean salsa sounds delicious. People motivated to improve their brain health can trust they’ve found a worthwhile guide.

ASIN: B07JLNLZ79

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11 11: The Awakening Code

11 11: The Awakening Code by [Light, Star]

Initially this book seemed to be about what the 11 11 awakening code is about and how it shows up in life. At first the author talks about her son and how his birth and death, along with that of his cousin, are all impacted by the synchronicities of 11 11. After a discussion of how she came to see this pattern in life, the book turns political while also stating that there is no desire to make this book political. While names of politicians are omitted, keen observers will be able to understand who is being discussed. This book covers topics such as: socialism, war, farming, legalization of pot, secret societies and even alien lifeforms.

The book is written in a stream of conscious style of writing,  with no chapters or dividing sections, and jumps from one topic to another and back again with little to no segue. The topics discussed are varied and interesting. If you are into conspiracy theories, like aliens, secret societies and new wave thoughts of how you consume energy, then you would definitely find this book intriguing.

Star Light uses this book to convey thoughts and opinions about today’s society. These views do tie into the idea of the awakening code and the ideas expressed push readers to awaken their mind and not be sheep just following the status quo news that we are fed. This is an idea I like and I think many people would benefit from. The author encourages people to think more about their actions and how they live their life. 11 11 The Awakening Code is and interesting read, although it would benefit greatly from an editor and some structure. The views expressed are more idealistic rather than evidence based, but the ideas are genuine, interesting and are used as a justification to prove the existence of the 11 11 synchronicities.

Pages: 70 | ASIN: B07964M478

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I just look like this

In …I Just Look Like This, a book fitting for those seeking spiritual guidance, the author, A. Kirk Williams M.D., seeks to guide the reader towards finding peace in a world filled with lies and chaos. Williams provides social commentary in the form of articles, poems, and journal entries pertaining to a variety of topics in history, biology, and spirituality in no particular order.

Every chapter contains a new topic, allowing readers to piece together the greater story as they read. Most of the chapters are short, but ultimately leads to a provocative message pertaining to white males destroying the earth and inflicting misery on the rest of the world with their selfish, capitalistic, and destructive intent.

Williams attracts a large audience by relating to multiple cultures through his interesting genealogy and popular message of finding peace. Slowly, he reveals a controversial message to his initial pursuit of peace by encouraging people to be skeptical of ”those in power” and later equating that to white males. This turns into a biochemistry lesson on why white people are inferior to other races, using his professional background as a medical doctor as leverage to make his point.

The author uses some examples from history to boost his claim of white inferiority by presenting cases of war, genocide, and negligence committed by those of European descent. I felt that the historical cases were cherry-picked and ignored similar incidents throughout history perpetrated by other races on different continents.

This book has some great advice for living a happy life. Williams encourages his readers to seek a deeper sense of spirituality by pursuing mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical discipline. He details how to balance each of these four areas by seeking the innate truth of the world. This allows allows readers to find the truth that lies within them. Mostly, this is done by prayer and seeking the will of God, but I would have liked to have read a more defined description of this this search for truth.

Another inspiring concept addressed in …I Just Look Like This pertains to the benefit of close communities and seeking the wisdom of those who have experienced more in life. It’s the author’s view that wisdom comes with age and how he wished he had listened to his father’s advice on many things, saving him from his shortsighted nature.

While there are many life lessons and entertaining passages, I felt that this book blames many of the world’s woes on whites. Those uneducated in world history might be easily persuaded by Williams, but it’s always important to fact check authors with such bold claims of racial inferiority.  This book has the potential to accomplish the opposite of the author’s stated intent, to promote peace, and instead, inspire hatred of others.

Pages: 158 | ISBN: 0964189453

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Sunken Spanish Treasure Quest

Sunken Spanish Treasure Quest by [Johnson, Richard Joseph]

Sunken Spanish Treasure Quest by Richard Joseph Johnson is an adventure story about four friends who go in search of an 18th century Spanish galleon, the San de Cristo, that sunk off the coast of Florida during a hurricane in 1733. Brad, a commodities trader, finds a journal at an estate sale in Chicago. The journal is written in Spanish, and Brad gives it to his friend, Maximo to read. Max, the owner of a men’s clothing store, has a degree in world history and discovers a reference in the journal (written in hidden code) to the location of the San de Cristo and the lost Spanish treasure–gold and silver coins and ingots–that had been aboard when it sank. Brad and Max enlist two other friends–George, an electronic engineer, and Lou, a former boiler technician on an aircraft carrier and current restaurant owner–to help in the search. Although the four men have no experience or knowledge of maritime salvage, they set off to find this sunken treasure. Will they locate the lost vessel and discover riches beyond their imagining? Will their friendship survive this quest for lost Spanish treasure?

I liked the historical aspects of the story. The history imbued in this story is something that any history buff will surely enjoy. References to the 1700’s were very intriguing and lends an air of mystery to this story that doesn’t dissipate and was one of my favorite parts of the book.

The story started out slow, with a lot of lead up and back story before Brad, Max, George, and Lou actually begin their quest. I felt that there were a lot of unnecessary details (such as what the men ate during their meals together). Eliminating some of the details describing their day to day lives would have improved the pace of the story. The first quarter of the book is filled with the planning and preparing for the trip, including almost two chapters about the drive from Chicago to Florida.

The story picks up once Brad, Max, George, and Lou arrive in Florida and begin their search, and the adventure truly begins when we are introduced to a group of pirates that the four men must battle. Their adventure continues when they return to their lives in Chicago, and trouble follows them home. I liked that although many things changed for them in their lives after their quest for treasure, some things remained the same.

This was an enjoyable read that gets better and more interesting as the story progresses. The bond between the characters is something that I enjoyed watching develop as they pieced together their trip and battled pirates.

Pages: 434 | ASIN: B079437WVB

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