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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Author Kaleb Thompson’s Peace in the Midst of the Storm is a poetry collection that aims to inspire others, offering sanctuary to readers going through life’s crises. This collection is based on religious beliefs and seeks to glorify God and exalt the human spirit. The writer captures the universal experiences of despair, stress, and not knowing where to turn while offering religious-based solutions to navigating these dark times in life.

These poems contain powerful and evocative images; the opening poem describes a peaceful place “my life will soon leap into.” I feel, at times, these poems would benefit from being simplified. Some lines are so long that the rhyme scheme is partially lost or muddled. Nonetheless, there is a promise of healing within these poems through moments of original phrasing and Thompson’s positive, supportive messaging. One message that stood out to me is that we are not who we were in the past, our future can be different, and we have the power to change our lives.

The poem “Blame” really struck me. The lines “A mature young man in the midst of grown adults who don’t know how / and when to grow up is not only surprising, it’s disturbing.” I see this attitude almost every day, at work, in stores, and even at children’s sports games. How can children learn to live in a Godly way when the example set before them is the exact behavior they are told to correct?

This collection is for those passionate about their religious beliefs and who have a strong faith background. The poetry is religious; there are explicit calls to prayer, alongside a sense of owing life’s successes to God. Through God, readers will find a path to overcoming anxiety, fear, a broken and troubled spirit, and an uplifting message of hope. The uplifting energy of this collection and Thompson’s attempt to reach out to the downtrodden are admirable.

Peace in the Midst of the Storm is a collection of poetry that will help guide readers into the light from the darkness that has built up inside them. This inspirational anthology will give readers hope and encouragement to find the best inside of themselves with the help of God.

Pages: 88 | ASIN : B09PSTJPH8

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Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus

Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus is an illuminating scholarly work on the authentic Jesus and his teachings. Dean lays out three important questions in the beginning of his book about Jesus, his existence, his teachings and what he offered to humanity; all delivered through a critical lens. Dean sets out on a daunting journey of finding the ‘authentic’ Jesus without any bias and only sticking to available evidence.

The beginning of this informative book contains information on different sources the author used and then the book dives into the Gospels, Jesus’ disciples and other topics, to make his case.

Each chapter has an intriguing question at the beginning, which is then followed by compelling arguments. Readers are not made to take sides on those arguments, but are allowed to critically think and decide for themselves.

The simple use of language throughout this book ensures that the information being conveyed is easily understood by anyone, and I think the text is much more powerful because of it. Photographs and other pieces of historical evidence are provided in this book which breaks up the long pieces of text. They are great visual additions that make this book much more engaging.

While I am spiritual, I certainly don’t have the level of knowledge of Christianity that the author does, and I had a bit of trepidation going into this book because of that. But the author provides readers with all the necessary information they need in order to understand the book. I feel like I walked away from this book with a lot more information on the subject, which will allow me to confidently partake in a discourse on this topic with other people.

I was mesmerized by the cover of this book because I felt like you are playing a word puzzle and finding Jesus in the scramble; which I think is a metaphor for this book, or maybe life too. While I think the book contained easy to understand language and the chapters fully covered a topic before moving on, I feel like this book is not something you finish in one sitting. There is a lot of thought-provoking information in this book that takes time to absorb. Going through the book, there were several ‘aha’ moments for me about Jesus and his teachings.

Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean takes on a controversial topic in a way that is comprehensive and impartial. This is an enlightening book that provides the reader with the critical information they need to unravel the mystery of Jesus.

Pages: 211 | ISBN: 978-1-03-913143-9

www.saltandlight.ca

Unforgiven

Unforgiven is a short story written by Andre Gress. The story is told by the character Henry Fields, a once-famous ex-writer whose life falls apart in every way imaginable in the first chapter. However, there’s no silver lining until he is suddenly informed about a huge family secret that will change the nature of his life catastrophically.

The narrative takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s evident from the start that Henry harbors much anger and bitterness towards his life and perhaps the people in it due to various circumstances. The story is told from Henry’s perspective, but it also contains a lot of italicized side comments. These comments feel like Henry’s unofficial internal monologue and often include points of criticism or snide remarks aimed at both himself and others in the story. The addition of these side comments adds depth and intrigue to the story because you get an inside look at Henry’s thoughts and emotions.

I appreciated that the main character is presented as a person who was both a little flawed and quite sensitive. He has a clear adoration for his little dog Rosy and reminisces about his past. So many male characters are created to be strong and dominant, to the point that the idea of being emotional is nonexistent. It was refreshing to follow a character that is a little more realistic with his emotions, especially with the things Henry has gone through and experienced.

I enjoyed the overall story and narrative development; the development of the main character and his life situation at the start of the story was vividly descriptive and exciting. However, once the big family secret is revealed to Henry, he goes from being outrageously angry to accepting in no time at all. I felt this story aspect was rushed, and some of the storylines were cut out. Still, this is a captivating story and takes the reader on a memorable adventure.

Unforgiven is a gripping story about a man and his journey to self-discovery and learning the truth about his family. As events unfold, he will have to choose what path he follows, and readers will be hanging on edge to see his life’s direction.

Pages: 95 | ASIN : B01NAJSA6N

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I Love the Element of Surprise

R. J. Corgan Author Interview

Mammoth Drop follows a scientist to the Black Hills where she finds herself knee-deep in mammoth bones and a murder mystery. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The Black Hills, and South Dakota in general, is heaven for geologists. In fact, most geologists have to do a field season out West as part of our degrees. I studied in South Dakota and Wyoming in the early 90’s and was blown away by the beauty of the landscape. I’ve also worked with paleontologists who have spent their lives studying mammoths and they’re just as marvelous as the animals they study. I wrote Mammoth Drop to celebrate both their legacy and to share the breathtaking scenery of the region with readers.

Kea Wright is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Kea is smart, kind, and terrible with people. Like many scientists that work in the field for months at a time, Kea suffers from broken relationships, a low self esteem, and bouts of depression. I wanted to create a heroine where those attributes, both good and bad, are superpowers: they’re external to the group, often forced to think differently, and wind up in places they shouldn’t be. While a reluctant heroine, I love Kea and I hope that readers will as well.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book (and what can readers expect in Book 4)?

Each book in the Kea Wright series has a unique theme. Cold Flood examines how being put under intense pressure can and release something inside ourselves that we never knew existed. The Meerkat Murders examines the concept of altruism, Mammoth Drop explores extinction, while Murder on Masaya examines sacrifice. Each book also has a different tone. Mammoth Drop is absolutely a camp romp full of drinking and dancing to celebrate a scientist and his life’s work. In contrast, the final story, Murder on Masaya,(released in 2021) is a much darker story about the hazards that scientists undertake to gather data and the sacrifices people make for their family. These changes in tone are deliberate because, growing up, my favorite television show was Doctor Who – you never knew where the next story would take you, it could be the distant past or the far future, or be a comedy or a tragedy. I loved that element of surprise. These books are very much in the same vein and I hope readers enjoy the variety.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

During Kea’s visit to the Black Hills, one of the scientists in Mammoth Drop Caverns is brutally murdered. Determined to unmask the killer, Kea takes up residence in nearby Woolly Hole, a gay campground filled with boozing drag queens and bottomless mimosas. Knee-deep in mammoth bones and potential suspects, Kea soon finds herself in the killer’s sights . . .

Blackface

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Blackface, by Pamela D. Smith, is a celebration of African American’s success in politics, art, and culture. For the longest time, black faces have been associated with mockery, misery, pity, and everything negative. Pamela D. Smith, however, brings positivity to the words and gets readers to revisit the misrepresentation of the term. Smith is not trying to forget history but she wants readers to use these experiences to become a leader. The Author shares painful memories of African Americans, the impact slavery has had for generations, race dynamics, the struggles Black people have gone through, and how African Americans rose up, and are shining.

Smith has written a powerful and inspiring book sharing her experiences as an African American woman and asks the reader what they would do if they were in her situation. Many of the situations the author describes are some that many readers don’t face that often so this was an eye-opening read for me. I also admired that the author debunks the stereotypes given to African Americans, some of which I wasn’t even aware of.

The author writes in a conversational tone that is not out to point fingers but instead to educate us. I feel this book can be relatable to people of different races, not just African Americans. Smith inspires and provides tips on how to be a leader for yourself and how to be the best version of yourself no matter what you face in the world.

The author is honest and open with the reader and she does not hold back about what African Americans have gone through and still go through today. The author’s vulnerability is inspiring and a remarkable feature of her writing.

Every chapter in Blackface has a lesson that will benefit the reader. My biggest lessons were on how to brand and package yourself for more visibility. By creating an exemplary brand with your name, you will be able to skillfully sell whatever product or service you have, impact lives, sub-consciously mentor future leaders, and live a fulfilling life. Apart from the wise teachings, I also loved the quotable texts in various chapters. One of my favorite quotes from Blackface is ‘To become internally self-aware, we must be open-minded’. This quote is powerful and helped me change my perspective.

Blackface: An African American guide to building a personal brand, developing as a leader, and serving with excellency is an insightful look into how African Americans can grow in their professional lives. It gives a realistic look into the struggles and roadblocks that People of Color face.

Dilation

Dilation: A 10,000-Year Sci-Fi Epic, by Travis Stecher, is about the human race’s first encounter with aliens. As this encounter leads to humanity’s impending destruction, many people are sent 10,000 years into the future to defend Earth. 21st-century biology professor Denise Walker and DIA agent Isaac Fowler are joined in the 126th century by 32nd-century fighter pilot Nadia Raynor. Follow their journey across time as humankind struggles to find its way into the future and survive the alien invasion.

Stecher captivates the reader from the beginning as he introduces the character Raynor just after she’s arrived in the 126th century. The reader is in suspense as hints are given that something critical is happening. Then, in awe of the historical figures Raynor encounters, the reader is taken back into “our time” and gives the story’s beginning.

The author does a fantastic job of pulling the reader through time as events unfold and connecting the dots to the beginning of this complex book when Raynor is first introduced. Once all the characters and the reader are fully entrenched in the 126th century, he thrusts us into the action of the human race fighting for survival. The action scenes are one to applaud and are filled with such detail you feel as if you are watching a movie. The characters are believable, along with their emotions and dialogue. They are thoroughly fleshed-out characters in a vibrant and detailed universe. The story was not bogged down with technical details, and the author gave enough information to keep the reader engaged.

Dilation: A 10,000-Year Sci-Fi Epic is a gripping time travel adventure that hooks the reader from the beginning and keeps their attention to the very last page. This novel will entertain hard science fiction readers with memorable characters, exciting conflict, and an unforgettable story.

Pages: 464 | ASIN : B09QQLD79Y

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To Those We Found

To Those We Found by George Ander is a science fiction book based in a completely different galaxy. Instead of having features like tentacles and an exoskeleton, the aliens have the same physical construction as humans. This captivating story has been told from the viewpoint of an alien competing for the position of a champion; the winner will represent their planet in other solar systems.

The protagonist of the story, Taman Yedder, is selected by a random lottery to represent his world to the whole universe. He reaches the destination but finds himself trapped in a desolate hospital with the doctor forcing him to stay there. After a scuffle, he escapes the hospital and begins exploring this mother world he is supposed to prepare a report about.

Through the journey and thoughts of Taman, readers will explore his world. The historical evidence and the leaders’ talks are contradictory, and Taman begins his search for truth. However, his investigation leads him to deep and dark secrets which no one wants to hear about. He also explores his sexuality and begins to question the reason for his sacrifices. The leadership doesn’t want anyone to know things Taman has started asking.

The author explores many human world problems like religion, politics, economy, sexual identity, and technology through the alien world. The characters and their responses are eerily human but being in a different world creates an estrangement with the readers. This book is a deep dive into the psychology and philosophy of the human mind. I felt that, at times, the author’s explanation of the psychology of humans was lost in the story’s narrative or just confusing to understand. The cultural hegemony of our world has been shown, and capitalism has been questioned. The protagonist is an outsider, enabling him to question and look at these from a fresh perspective rather than blindly follow them. This book is fiction wrapped in ideological and realistic problems that plague our world.

The author brings out a lot of contemporary issues through the story. I liked the subtle yet firm way the author establishes the parallel between our world and this fictional world. The writing style is captivating, and the plot engages with enough dialogues and actions. So many contemporary and chronic issues of our world have been represented without any solution.

To Those, We Found is a riveting young adult science fiction novel for teens who want to read action-filled and engaging plots and for people who want a philosophical look at the world in their readings.

Pages: 389 | ASIN : B09MNS6J4V

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Powerless

Powerless is a well-written and gritty take on small town life after a major disaster. Kevin Barton and his family live on the outskirts of Harpursville, a hamlet in rural New York. When a major blackout wipes out communication and modern electrical conveniences, the townsfolk must come together to survive. Most of the story takes place in the Barton’s household, where Kevin must transition from administrator to farmer. His wife, Monica, takes on the role of hunter and quartermaster as she minds their ever-dwindling supplies. Their daughter Kelly, and her stranded friend, Dina, try to cope with being teenagers while living through a minor apocalypse.

Powerless is a very realistic take on a prolonged state of emergency. While it is not nearly as dire or hard to digest as Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” (which gets a brief mention), and there are no post-apocalyptic monsters or zombies, the author covers actual threats, like lack of food, water, medicine, and the mixed intentions of other people, which makes this story feel much more grounded.

I find it refreshing that Kevin is an ill-equipped modern day everyman, more suited for desk work than living off the land. He’s not a man “with a certain set of skills” or a former special forces soldier. He’s just an average forty-year-old man who is lucky enough to live next door to a working farm in a time of crisis.

The theme of “power,” who has it, and who does not, is explored throughout the novel. Characters who find themselves powerless in the new world develop new skills to survive, some for the better, some worse. As supplies run out the idea of “neighbors helping neighbors” becomes more of a veiled menace than cheery mantra. Coming on the heels of a global pandemic, what once would seem like a survival fantasy story feels very real and very possible at this time in history.

Powerless is a riveting post-apocalyptic novel that plays with being a psychological thriller as well as a compelling character study.

Pages: 370 | ASIN: B09TX9P62R

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