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Phoebe and Fred

Harmony is your typical village; secluded, close-knit, peaceful, and quiet. That was why the city-living Watsons found it to be the perfect spot to grow their little family. They added to their little family Phoebe and Fred, the brilliant Basset hounds, as well as a truckload of gossip and weary villagers. But, in a world where talking dogs are as impossible as flying pigs, will a loving family be enough to reassure the bassets that they will not again be thrown out and abandoned?

Phoebe and Fred by Nathaniel S. Johnson tells the story of two lovely not so ordinary basset hounds that found their way into a charming family. When Watson lost their dog, Billy Beau the Black Lab, Henry Watson was thrown into despair and almost swallowed by loneliness. His wife and kids thought a new addition to the family to replace their previous dog was the only way to save him, and it turned out the bassets were the best thing that happened to their whole family. Things, however, took a turn for the worse when one morning, the bassets did something that no ordinary dog could do.

Phoebe and Fred is a lighthearted story. I found the book straightforward and a solid read. There were not lengthy conversations, but they were sure long enough to warm my heart. The Bassets were particularly intriguing, and I was somewhat confused why the villagers were so weary of them. My blood boiled at some point, and I was dismayed by how petty Reverend Treadwell was and so delighted that Kyle, the sheriff, had some faith in the hounds.

Phoebe and Fred is a humorous story about two amazing Basset Hounds and the family that falls in love with them. The writing was immaculate, the characters were on point, and it was a delight to picture life in the small town in my head just from the description. Children will find this book an absolute delight, and fur parents might as well too.

Pages: 88 | ASIN : B0BMLPJSLH

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Give Me Shelter 

Set against the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, this emotional story follows the lives of Willie and Denny, two boys who live with their grandfather after the mysterious death of their parents. Their lives are separated when Denny heads off to college, and Willie’s friend tells him about “The man in the suit.” This sends them on a journey that will have them cross paths with a whole host of others, all trying to live, survive and figure out a world on the brink of collapse. And if they can’t do it alone, could they do it together?

Give Me Shelter by David B. Seaburn is a beautiful story about human connection and condition. It follows the story of Willie, a sixth-grade schoolboy. His life changes after his parents mysteriously die, and he and his brother are sent to live with his grandfather. Things change when his brother leaves for college and then change again when a mysterious character arouses the suspicion of his friend. Together, they embark on a journey to find answers to some very strange questions. They must rely on themselves and others to prevail.

I liked this story. It was a simple read but engaging. Seaburn’s character development was outstanding. I was able to relate to all the characters and form an attachment to each one’s story and plight. The settings were all described with enough detail I felt I was there with the characters but not overwhelmed with minute information. What I particularly liked about it was that it was such a humorous story told in such a turbulent time. The characters in this story could be obliterated by a nuclear warhead at any moment, but yet, there is still joy there. I think this is achieved through the use of good writing and clever character development. Each character stood out and added something to the story. There was no waste. A good book that will fill you with emotion throughout.

Give Me Shelter is a well-written coming-of-age story that will have readers of family life fiction turning the pages to see what happens to all the memorable characters. This is one of those books that will leave the reader thinking about the characters after the book is finished, remembering things they have done or said, just like an old friend.

Pages: 350 | ASIN : B0B99F72SD

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The Perfect Sister 

Uncover the deep, dark secrets of Kappa Zeta, and maybe you’ll discover the events that led to a young sorority pledge’s death. When Lydia was found dead, it made national headlines for being the college’s scandal of the year, and the disbelieving news rocked the college community. Unaware of the tragic accident that plagued campus society, new pledge, and South Carolina native Tinsley joins Kappa Zeta with the hopes of leaving a mysterious, haunting past behind her. With her fair share of secrets to hide, Tinsley hoped to keep the closet door closed on her skeletons, but keeping secrets wasn’t part of being the perfect sister. Would her experience as part of this infamous sorority be the epic high she was seeking or the crushing downfall that led to her demise?

Zachary Ryan’s The Perfect Sister is written in a style similar to Gossip Girl. This book leaves readers on the edges of their seats with the subtle hints the narrator drops throughout the story. A creepy, sinister tone concludes each chapter, and the cliff-hanging clues keep your eyes glued to the page. The writing is simple, but this works in favor of the plot at times. There are great, simple physical descriptions of characters, painting a clear image of the character in your reader’s mind. However, sometimes simple writing is not enough in some areas of this book. I felt that the novel could have made use of more literary devices to strengthen reader engagement.

The Perfect Sister is a suspenseful psychological thriller novel that will keep readers on edge from one chapter to the next. Everyone has secrets to hide, but hiding them from your sorority sisters isn’t an option in this story. The drama and mystery will keep readers returning to find out who they can trust if anyone.

Pages: 326 | ASIN : B0B89G9F77

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Giant Banana Over Texas

Giant Banana Over Texas by Mark Nutter is a collection of short stories that will make you stop in your track and reread it. With straightforward and short stories, the author has tried to capture the absurdity of human life in weird circumstances. All these instances that are mentioned in the book are plausible situations. They have the full potential to be true, but this is something that is generally not heard of. It might sound confusing, but this is exactly what the stories are: confusing and chaotic.

The author’s writing style is the common thread that binds these 31 stories together in this book. All of them are weirdly thought-provoking and will leave you with a deep sense of discomfort. Of course, I knew that stories are simply stories, but there is something in those stories that make them very near to reality despite being in the vein of impossibility.

The stories have sensible beginnings, a possible flow of action, but an unsettling end. These endings are connected to the problems at the beginning. The weird endings suddenly turn the flow of the stories and take them away from the realistic relatability that we feel with the stories. It is weird, but curiosity makes it interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed being stumped by this Giant Banana over Texas.

The author uses absurdity to bring out the problems of the contemporary world. Even though the endings are not what lies in the wake of realistic action, it brings out discomfort in the readers. The readers feel relatable yet away from the characters. The discomfort of the stories seeps within the reader’s conscience and itches at the mind.

Giant Banana Over Texas is a collection of short dark-humor stories. The language used is very easy to read and understand. Anyone will enjoy the Absurd twists and turns that the stories take while the characters are left hanging on the edge of uncertainty.

Pages: 237 | ASIN : B09S6T5FM4

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The Awkward Dinosaurs

Have you ever wondered about lesser-known dinosaurs? Do you ever wonder if there are some strange ones that you might not have ever heard of or imagined your own new and exciting ones? The Awkward Dinosaurs by Kellen Roggenbuck is a humorous and delightful picture book that children and adults will be able to laugh and giggle at. Each page introduces a previously unheard-of dinosaur with an awkward personality or physical trait. One thing these dinosaurs do not lack is self-confidence. They are all happy with who they are and how they look.

Author and illustrator Kellen Roggenbuck has created a picture book that will capture the interests of babies just learning to look at pictures to adults that want good clean humor. I genuinely laughed as I read through this children’s book. Shyladon is probably my favorite dinosaur in this collection. I love how just because he isn’t a fan of large crowds, he is fine and not ashamed of this. Children will have no trouble finding a dinosaur in this book that they can relate to and appreciate.

The awkward dinosaurs teach young children that being different is okay and something to be proud of. If you are different and stand out from a group of friends, that is not bad; everyone is unique, even if they think it is awkward at first, like glowing in the dark or being plaid.

The Awkward Dinosaurs is a magical picture book that would make a wonderful gift for young children just getting interested in books as the bright colors, and entertaining illustrations will keep them engaged. It would also be a great addition to a kindergarten or preschool classroom to help teach and celebrate diversity.

Pages: 28 | ISBN: 0578799103

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The Platinum-Level Transluminal Vacation Package of Your Dreams 

The Platinum-Level Transluminal Vacation Package of Your Dreams by Bull Garlington features Heller, who is one sale away from earning a nice retirement package from Transluminal Vacations, Inc. As the characters call it, Heller is close to his “FYMT,” or his “F*** You Money Timeline,” where he would apparently be rich enough to not be concerned with those around him. Did I mention the company specializes in vacations to other universes? After an initial close call, he still needs one sale with one day left, and he has a trainee to bring with him. Needless to say, wild shenanigans ensue. Can Heller make the final sale and survive the universe jumping one last time?

The casual yet defined writing style employed by author Garlington is what provides the incredulous yet unsurprised tone. There are even footnotes that the narrator employs to talk about himself. The long tangents that pop up randomly yet elegantly are most entertaining, though. For example, an excellent paragraph about the phrase “pregnant silence” that the narrator decided to replace with “festering moment” was a favorite of mine. They’re not all hits, though; if one misses and goes on for too long, it can be a bit off-putting.

Also, some jokes target American politics with some not-so-subtle satire, so if you’re easily triggered by that sort of thing, be forewarned.

Still, this book is pure entertainment. This book is for you if you like a quick wit and quite a bit of eccentricity. I don’t know if I’d be interested in more of the zaniness of this particular story. Still, I can tell you that I appreciate this author’s writing style and the tone he can establish and utilize with such ease. I’ll be looking for more work from him, but maybe in a storyline that’s a little more grounded.

Pages: 361 | ASIN :  B091X323YD

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Nothing to See Here

Nothing to See Here is about Maxi, a middle-aged man who has returned home to Ireland after living in America for 25 years. He is currently going through some financial troubles as his business failed, and now he has to re-group and take care of his elderly mother. When he returns home, he reconnects with friends Jasper and Ella and finds a map to treasure in their home, leading Maxi, Ella, and her friends Ida and Debbie to go on a treasure hunt. They hope to change their lives with the riches they go in search of.

Author Brendan Walsh provides readers with a story plot that is both refreshing and entertaining. Keeping the reader on their toes with plot twists makes this an unpredictable read that is sure to take the reader on a wild ride. Unfortunately, as the story progressed, the characters began to get tunnel vision due to being so focused on the treasure creating one messy adventure.

I found the characters to be funny and relatable, and I wanted to read more about them. The author paints a vivid picture with his richly detailed descriptions, making it easy for the reader to imagine the scenes. The use of dramatic irony built the tension in the story because there were times when the characters in the story did something that would be futile to them reaching their goal, and I, as a reader, wouldn’t be able to warn them. This shows Walsh has excellent writing skills to build up so much tension in the reader for fictional characters. I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and ended too quickly.

Nothing to See Here is a page-turning comedy novel filled with action. This treasure hunt story will appeal to those who are looking for a fun-filled adventure with lots of hijinks.

Pages: 322 | ASIN : B0B2FD2XCS

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What’s Not True

In midst of a divorce from Mike, Kassie O’Callaghan reunites with her ex-lover Chris as they run away to Paris. But unfortunately, their plans are derailed repeatedly. First from her marketing career at Calibri marketing group, when she is offered a new position at her company’s Paris office. Second a sudden heart attack that drags her back home to Boston. While in Boston, Kassie has to deal with Mike’s fiancee, Karen, as she attempts to steal the rights to the business Kassie and Mike forged together. Things get more complicated during the legal battle between Kassie and Karen when DNA tests reveal shocking news that could change everything. What’s Not True; A Novel is a sequel to Valerie Taylor’s What’s Not Said.

When reading the novel, a reader might be caught off guard as the story picks up directly after What’s Not Said. However, after the first couple of chapters, the characters and their story become more apparent. Although not a required read, What’s Not Said offers much insight into the characters’ dynamics.

The reader is quickly sucked into a complicated love web. Author Valerie Taylor does a fantastic job with her character building. Each of her characters is endearing in their own way, despite their flaws. For example, although Mike’s character is questionable, the reader is still found rooting for him and his desires. Kassie struggles with finding her footing as a professional and in her romantic life. The situations Kassie ends up in are great catalysts for her character’s growth.

The book has a satisfying ending where many family secrets finally come to light, giving many characters clarity on their past. Readers will not feel like they are left hanging with questions and will actually find peace on many subjects that come in in the course of this entertaining novel.

What’s Not True is a heartwarming story that would make a great beach read, filled with plot twists and interesting characters. This captivating and romantic story that is anything but predictable.

Pages: 336 | ASIN : B08QZ8KR4Y

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