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The Marvelous Misfits of Westminster

The Marvelous Misfits of Westminster by Andrea Hahnfeld encompasses the expression “expect the unexpected” in a nutshell. There aren’t many short stories that combine a dog show and a broken marriage with a second-chance grasp at a dream career, all while throwing in a side plot of mystery and suspense – not to mention, it’s got a target audience for all ages.

It’s been five years since protagonist Clement entered the Westminister Dog Show. A gentle character with a big heart and comforting energy, he never expected to be a judge again. However, one thing is clear – something’s brewing. After an unusual decision during the Best of Group event, one way too unacceptable to simply bypass, the board is upset, and it’s Clement’s job to set things straight. In a sticky scenario, the judge who has made the decision is Edith, Clement’s ex-wife. All too soon, the reasoning for Edith’s outrageous judgment comes to light in the form of Irving, who’s the size of a Shetland pony, matted and dirty, from a rare line of hero dogs. The issue: Irving’s dying. He’s also the key to saving Edith’s life from the shadow, a being that stole Edith and Clement’s child in the night and is now set to return at any moment. To accomplish this, Irving must breed with Salvatora – a notorious prize-winning show dog – who comes from a long line of survivors. The connection between Salvatora and Irving is vital, their offspring will save many lives, and Clement is destined to bring about their connection.

Many will connect with and enjoy following Clement’s character throughout the story. I loved that the story was told from Clement’s perspective because I could understand his motives and thoughts. The vivid details immerse the reader into the story, and I feel like I was alongside Clement at the dog show. This unique plot is different but captivating, and I found it hard to put it down because I wanted to know more. The author’s writing is imaginative, making this a read unlike any other.

Overall The Marvelous Misfits of Westminster is a well-written and original mystery with an unanticipated collision of themes and genres. I highly recommend this brilliant story with a well-paced plotline and strategic depth embossed into each character, to everyone, especially dog lovers.

Pages: 39 | ASIN : B091BJXMKC

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Is There Any Love Down Back?

Who watches over those who’ve been left without family or support? Alexander O’Neil shares his cruel childhood experience in his memoir Is There Any Love Down Back?: The Four Boys, through which he exposes the inhumane conditions he and other children were forced to endure growing up, their lives utterly absent of true love and compassion.

Four boys have been abandoned and thus placed in multiple foster homes with the hope that they’ll be able to find their place in a loving family. Unfortunately, the foster care system has produced more horror stories than fairytales. Straight to the point and in minute detail, the author reveals what usually goes behind many of the closed doors of these foster homes. Encountering emotional and physical abuse, the children go through every new family with little hope of finding a place that will provide them with the care and nurture they so desperately need and that life has unfairly stripped away from them from the earliest of ages. To answer this, they try to find support in one another, protecting and providing for each other when needed, fighting back against the cruel treatment given by the darkest of human nature.

From the very beginning, Alexander’s story demands the reader’s attention. Through his concise accounts, he illustrates the severe and inexcusable conditions in which many children have to spend their entire childhoods as they beg for a place to belong. Heart-wrenching, the book is brutal because of the reality that carries inside its pages. Through each new chapter, the reader can reflect on the state of the foster care system that leaves children to their own luck and often even brings them closer to the utmost dangerous and abusive situations.

Is There Any Love Down Back?: The Four Boys by Alexander O’Neil is a heartbreaking memoir of the life many faces in the foster care system. Reading the stories of those who’ve had to deal with such harsh conditions is incredibly important. Through stories like the ones exposed in this book, the reader will be able to understand and empathize with the circumstances that many out there are forced to endure, guiding them to keep an eye out for those around them that are most vulnerable and therefore run the risk of being taken advantage of. Yet, the darkest of situations still hold some light in them, no matter how small, and the innocent charity displayed by such young children is an excellent example of that.

Pages: 160 | ISBN : 1648032605

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The Shut Out

In The Shut Out, Ron Raye weaves a compelling tale that draws readers in and keeps them hooked until the end. The story follows the lives of Ollivierra and Big D, two characters facing unique struggles. Ollivierra finds herself pregnant with twins, unsure of who the father is, while Big D is grieving the loss of a loved one and struggling to make a name for himself as a writer. This riveting book is set mostly in Japan, where Big D is seeking feedback on his work-in-progress novel set in Nazi Germany. Along the way, he encounters various obstacles and personalities, including his mother-in-law, who seems determined to sabotage his career and life.

Author Raye does an excellent job of creating a sense of tension and danger that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. One of the most interesting aspects of The Shut Out is Raye’s inclusion of a book-writing protagonist. This adds an intriguing layer to the story, as readers are able to compare the content of The Shut Out with the fictional novel that Big D is writing. The book is also unique in its structure, with a back-and-forth timeline between 1930s wartime and present-day Japan. However, despite the book’s many strengths, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with. With over six hundred pages, the narrative flow can feel overwhelming, especially with the multitude of characters, timelines, and struggles. However, once readers get a feel for the author’s style of writing, this novel becomes an immersive experience.

The Shut Out is a complex, dynamic tale with deep emotional draws. This thrilling book is a combination of drama, crime, and speculative fiction that is sure to fascinate readers. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a compelling read, and I eagerly anticipate the next installment in Raye’s series.

Pages: 686 | ASIN : B0BRJX8VKN

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Morgan wanted out. After spending her childhood with her abusive mother, alcoholic father, and successful sister, she wanted nothing more than to carve her own path in life as a film director. Likewise, Alayna wished to have a picture-perfect family, even if it meant putting her dreams of singing behind her. Separated by the trauma of their past and brought back together by the death of their mother, these two sisters want nothing more than to move on with their lives. But that’s easier said than done, especially when home means old ghosts are lurking around every corner.

Inspired by the music of Lana Del Rey, author Zachary Ryan tells the compelling story of two sisters trapped by circumstance and family ties as they try to right the wrongs of the past in his newest novel, Ride. The story itself is a beautifully written tale of trauma and healing. As the chapters flip between Alayna’s and Morgan’s perspectives, the reader is welcomed to the full scope of the story and both sides of the sister’s harsh upbringing. In this gripping book, Ryan doesn’t stray away from difficult topics such as suicide and drug abuse but accepts them as a brutal part of life. His willingness to discuss both the good and the bad brings the story to life.

Zachary Ryan tells a narrative that makes it hard not to feel genuine sympathy as you watch the sisters work their way through old ghosts and drudge up long-buried trauma. He writes the story in a way that allows you to bury yourself under the words. With the exception of a few jarring jumps between past and present, this book was a captivating and smooth read, and I found it hard not to put it down.

Ride is a compelling women’s fiction novel about the strained relationship between sisters and the struggle to work through past trauma. Readers will be taken on a journey of self-discovery and reflection as the sisters heal from their upbringing and find a way to move forward in life.

Pages: 341 | ASIN: B0BKYHV2PT

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Hollyland: A Novel

“I began to wonder if it’s even possible to have passion for your work and passionate love at the same time.”

Deanna Schwartz is a timid poetist and contemporary fiction writer who also has a degree in psychology and neuroscience, with a doctorate in art education and an innovative line of research. Ryder Field is a glamorous Hollywood actor and full-time playboy, widely known to the public for his iconic role in a successful action series and for his long list of failed relationships to acclaimed actresses and models.

Their paths cross on a side street adjacent to the entry of a night club in Los Angeles, and they strike up a conversation that has an undeniable spark. A weekend together. Dee teases her companion, goes skinny-dipping and dares to act bold in ways that would leave those who know her with their mouths agape. Rye goes to a farmers’ market, listens to an intimate live reading of her poetry and meets her closest friends on a brunch at her place. At a gala dinner, Rye tries to swoon a prestigious producer for his new series, and the night takes a turn for the unexpected as Rye and his associates discover that professor Deanna, the shy scholar and poetry writer, has some cards up her sleeve that reveal a whole new side to her relationship with arts. One day, though, a tragic event from Rye’s childhood catches up to them in a terrible coincidence, putting everything at stake.

Author Patricia Leavy does an excellent job of building up her characters in this enthralling romance novel. I enjoyed diving into the details of Deanna and Ryder’s characters. While this novel, by the end, utilizes a beguiling and suspenseful mystery to really ramp up the tension, I picked up this book again and again just to see those two together. They are characters that are interesting on their own, but when they’re together the story is alluring and enchanting. Their love for one another is reiterated throughout the story, but I think fans of love stories will still enjoy the story.

Hollyland takes the opposites attract trope to a new level by creating characters that are deep and compelling against an intriguing Hollywood backdrop. This will make a perfect feel-good beach read. The casual language and competent writing make the pages fly by. A bit melodramatic, heavily romantic, and all kinds of fun, Hollyland is a novel that left me smiling.

Pages: 224 | ASIN: B0B8H78CNT

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INFINITY: A Winter Romance

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It can never be said that Sarah Nightingale is a typical lady. As a seventeen-year-old, she is approaching old-maid status and does not seem to care. She is independent, outspoken, and completely willing and more than able to run her father’s farm. Tobias, her father, realizes all of this but still wants to see her married. When he arranges a meeting between his daughter and Matthew, an eligible and promising prospective son-in-law, he has no way of knowing he has set into motion a sequence of events he will soon regret. Meanwhile, Sarah has designs on a marriage of her own–one no one would ever expect.

Infinity: A Winter Romance, by Catalina DuBois, is one in a series of books that follows two star-crossed lovers through time as they continue to encounter one another and fight for the chance to be together. As they fight to reunite and regain the love that was once stolen from them, they must overcome one incredible obstacle after another in order to defeat the forces that are determined to keep them apart for eternity.

Sarah and Matthew make the perfect pair. The dynamic DuBois has created between the two in this time period is intriguing, to say the least. Sarah is headstrong and cannot be told what to do; she is a fantastic main character. Her boldness shines through everything she says and does throughout the plot. It’s clear that Matthew has been written to shine a light on Sarah’s character. He is likable but takes nothing away from Sarah.

I so enjoy the way DuBois writes. This is the second book in her Infinity that I have read, and the element of mystery she adds to her books makes each a must-read. She leaves each chapter with a line or two that will hook readers every time, urging them on to the next chapter. This is the kind of writing I prefer–I want to be made to feel that I am missing out if I don’t just keep reading. DuBois, without a doubt, is a master at producing books you won’t be able to put down until you have reached the last page.

Infinity: A Winter Romance, by Catalina DuBois, DuBois’s romance is tastefully written with just enough sensuality to attract romance fans. DuBois’s characters are relatable no matter the time period in which the book is written, and the combination of drama and humor, along with elements of romance, pushes DuBois’s works into the top spot on my list of books I highly recommend.

Pages: 154 | ASIN : B0BKYSQNZ9

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Holy Parrot

Leonard is, by his own description, a “twenty-one-year-old nerd” in Columbia on a research grant from Australia. Maria is a sixteen-year-old local claiming to be a pregnant virgin, set to give birth to a new Christ, as prophesied by her pet parrot. Despite having exactly nothing in common, a chance meeting brings the two together to form an instant, unexplainable bond that neither could have imagined. Over the course of their friendship, Leonard is forced to question everything he has ever believed about the conflicting ideologies of religion and science. Maria also must confront new ideas and experiences as she faces an ordeal far beyond her years.

Holy Parrot, by Angel A, is a beautiful and thought-provoking novel set in the lush, idyllic landscape of Buritaca, Columbia. The friendship between Leonard and Maria is established almost immediately while treated in a delicate tone that never comes across as either inappropriate or predatory, despite their age difference. It’s easy to understand how Leonard is so quickly spellbound by both Maria and his surroundings, as both are written in such a way that creates a heady atmosphere. Soon Robin is introduced, and he fills out the trilogy of main characters with a group of people who are so incredibly different yet complement each other wonderfully. There are actually few books where each and every character brings the perfect amount of support to a story, but this one manages that feat quite well. Every character, no matter how minor, is a necessary addition to this miraculous tale.

Holy Parrot covers many ideas and themes throughout its pages, including love, loss, religion, faith, and family. At its core, it could be argued to be a story about destiny, setting your own path while finding your true self amid past pain and present conflict. Leonard positively shines as the story’s narrator, slowly revealing himself to be a character with an incredible amount of depth, stepping outside his comfort zone time and time again in the unexpected role of protector. Even as he struggles to justify his own actions, Leonard never fails to stand up for Maria or stand beside Robin, all the time traveling toward a better understanding of what it truly means to live a fulfilled life.

This book gets an easy 5 out of 5 stars from me. It was extremely hard to put down, and the characters became as familiar as old friends. Even though I would love to know more about their lives after these events, I think the book ended in the most perfect way it could have. In addition, the ideas presented in regard to faith left plenty to consider far beyond the pages of the book without weighing it down with a glut of religious dogma. It was a perfect balance in every way!

Pages: 300 | ASIN : B0B8SL82J6

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The Orphan

The Orphan by James Lloyd is about a character called Omar, who is a man in his forties.  Within the first few pages of the book, Omar is introduced to the reader as a blunt character as he navigates through his professional life.  The reader soon finds out that Omar is not the most lovable character that one might expect from a protagonist.  As the plot develops, it becomes apparent that Omar’s character has more to it than meets the eye and has to learn the lesson that many people have to face: if you don’t reconcile with your past, it will show up in one shape or form.

This thought-provoking book is written in the third-person narrative, which further prevents the reader from becoming attached to Omar straight away.  I like how James Lloyd wrote the narrative, as it gives the reader the time to make up their own mind on how they want to view Omar.

The book contains a detailed plot that ties the story together intricately.  Although the novel falls into the drama genre, James Lloyd combines various elements of the mystery and detective genres which lead up to a suspenseful event.  James Lloyd explores Omar’s past through devices like flashbacks and through the curiosity of other characters.  Learning about Omar in this way pushes the reader to question who Omar really is, whether he is a product of his life experiences or using them as an excuse for his actions in the present.

The Orphan is a deeply thoughtful drama with Christian values intertwined. I would recommend this insightful book to anyone who enjoys complex storylines and reading texts by authors who do not share everything with the reader immediately, giving the reader time to think retrospectively.

Pages: 358 | ASIN : B0B7KNMSS3

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