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Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas in Africa

Author and traveler Terry Lister brings back the true meaning of Christmas in Peace, Joy, And Love: Christmas In Africa. In this short page-turner, we go on a journey across Africa and discover the Christmas traditions of African countries. From folklore-based traditions to unique holiday cuisine, there is something to learn on every page. Throughout the book, we are reminded of the true Christmas spirit and how to reshape how we view and celebrate the holiday.

We often forget that Christmas is more than Black Friday shopping sprees, taking pictures at a mall, and opening lavish gifts on a random December morning. If I could sum up the impact of this book in one word, it would be “enlightening.” Lister lays bare the wholesome, unique, and sometimes overly simplistic traditions of many impoverished African communities in an honoring and respectful manner. He does not see these communities as lacking but rather admirable. That gives the reader a more positive perspective on a Holiday that has been taken over by global marketing giants. I appreciated the respect he showed to each African community in his writing.

Lister does a fantastic job at sharing facts in a simplistic but entertaining fashion. It felt easy to retain the information; I often let chapters simmer in my mind before moving on to the next. The photographs were a beautifully added touch. Although many were not high-quality in the traditional sense, they showcased rawness and the natural state of these festivities as if they were happening in real-time. It also added a feel of a travel diary to the overall writing and book that I thoroughly enjoyed – we went on the journey with Lister to discover these traditions.

My reading of Peace, Joy, And Love: Christmas In Africa left me feeling humbled, joyful, and ready to enter the season ahead with a new perspective. If you are looking to switch up your holiday reading from the traditional classic tales, I recommend diving into the Christmas spirit-filled pages of this book.

Pages: 90 | ASIN : B0BGQGC82G

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Do Nothing

The door is open, but you swear you closed it. Something – one small thing – is moved into your house, and you know it wasn’t you or anyone you know. You feel a chill across your body that notifies your brain – danger! 

Author Miguel Angel Hernandez Jr. knows how to recreate this feeling for the reader and delivers a hair-raising suspenseful thriller. Hernandez Jr. takes his audience on a ride as the main character, gruff and gritty Griffin Knight, attempts to find the murderer of New York City’s District Attorney Natalie Costa. The evidence and another similar murder point to the reemergence of a serial killer returning after 10 years. Known as “The Judge,” he’s handing out death sentences to people he feels did nothing when justice needs to be served. Griffin has help from the previous detective on the cold case and a mysterious benevolent hacker. It points to a negligence lawsuit where a significant corporation bribed witnesses to make one man fall for the company’s illegal practices. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as the plot moved along quickly, and the character-hopping chapters kept me engaged as I figured out who this was and how they fit into the story. However, I would’ve liked Griffin Knight to have more character development. As a reader, I want to fall in love with the main character, and with very little background information on Griffin, we only see him as he is now. Detectives in stories like these are either the new hotshot or the seasoned and jaded type. I’m not sure where Griffin falls in this spectrum, but as the reader, I would have liked a chance to get to know him and care more about him when he is fighting for his life. Overall, the story was entertaining, fun to read, and still has me looking over my shoulder in a dark room. 

Do Nothing is a thrilling hard-boiled mystery that will have readers in suspense from the opening pages through the exciting conclusion. This short police procedural novel is perfect for a weekend read when you want to get your blood pumping.

Pages 76: | ASIN : B0BDJ8LZY8

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You’re the Cake

You’re the Cake: The Guy’s the Frosting by Marcia Lite-Braus is a self-help book that emphasizes the need for you to love and care for yourself first before seeking love from others. With ten chapters telling of Marcia’s experience dating different men, this book had enough coverage to point out the psychological and emotional reasons that influenced her and many women’s choice of men.

An invaluable attribute of this book is how Marcia, in bullet form, highlighted the problem with each choice in each story, what could have been done to avert it, and the affirmations that will help you do better. Furthermore, Marcia’s ability to find streaks of humor in her mistakes buffers the painful and, sometimes, alarmingly shocking mishaps she had dating different kinds of men. For every type of person out there, Marcia shared her experience dating them. From the kleptomaniac to the criminal, Marcia’s writing style makes her stories memorable, along with the lessons gleaned from ‘not shopping the inside’ of these men.

As a single, divorced mother of one, Marcia demonstrated how many women are inclined to re-enter the dating pool with a lot of anxiety and low self-esteem, bruised from the end or failure of their last relationship or marriage. This book reassures single women how that should not be the case. It provides copious examples of how love has been misrepresented and how not loving yourself can only attract the wrong kind of people. It is even worse when you project your past trauma or lapses into your future engagements. In this book, Marcia has succeeded in describing, in simple terms, how to be less critical of self. In this breakdown of one of the most complex aspects of human relationships – finding the right partner, Marcia made her writing relatable and easy to read. The burden of building a relationship should not be on you alone. If anything, it should not be a burden at all.

You’re the Cake: The Guy’s the Frosting is a real page-turner. On the last page, you’d be left desiring more of the writing and knowing that you have learned all it takes to value yourself and be that cake that deserves the best frosting.

Pages: 66 | ASIN : B0B72HMVM2

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Music In Darkness

Music in Darkness, by Exona Moll, is a short fiction that revolves around the lives of Lucy and Eldritch. Lucy is a young and lonely woman whose curiosity leads her to meet a masked man named Eldritch in a rather unusual way. How these two people get to know each other and how they cruise through different circumstances are the highlights of Music in Darkness.

Moll has an engaging writing style; from start to finish, she weaves her story beautifully- and lets the readers get occupied with her imagination. Since the book is short and sweet, it is not difficult to finish it in one sitting.

The plot begins with someone narrating the story, and in no time, the author masterfully lays out the spiral journey of Lucy and Eldritch before us. The choice of words is plain and simple. I enjoyed the characters so much that I wanted to know more about them, but that didn’t take away from the story. As a reader who likes suspense in an account, I am pleased with Moll’s approach to writing.

Music in Darkness is filled with suspenseful and surprising events, and there are so many times a reader can feel the fear of the unknown. The author includes dialogues that make her characters more appealing and make it even more likely readers will be consumed by the plot. The story is modern, yet it has the feel of good old times. A big shout out to the author for keeping Music in Darkness short. It is easy to move from one chapter to another.

The budding love between Lucy and Eldritch is so precious. As they embark on an unknown journey, both show their vulnerability and strength. Eldritch’s passion for music is beautiful, and Lucy’s faith in Eldritch feels so real. This story certainly moves a reader and makes us think about how society/people treat people based on their appearances. With a unique storyline and a thrilling plot presented as a quick read, it will attract readers across genres.

Pages: 64 | ASIN : B09WXGSTM5

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Sixteen Days

Sixteen Days is a beautiful work by Victoria Wilson-Crane constituting the sudden death of a young woman named Mary Lou, who happened to be the author’s niece, and how her family handled the pain of losing someone so dear. Death is inevitable, and it brings a lot of grief to a family. Sixteen days is a handbook on how to grieve and facilitate others who are mourning a precious life lost.

Wilson-Crane writes a powerful memoir with so much honesty and grit. She masterfully begins this book with Mary-Lou’s introduction as her niece, her childhood, and how events develop leading to her sudden death. As readers, we can feel her pain and helplessness toward fate sometimes, yet the next moment as we read, Wilson-Crane gives her readers her best advice on coping with such moments.

The writing is elegant, straightforward, and engaging. Reading this book, one can understand and acknowledge the writer’s honest emotions. Wilson-Crane’s emotions are raw, yet she manages to give us her best advice on transitioning from one state of mind to another. The best part is the list of to-do’s when mourning or visiting someone mourning. The author’s approach to writing is simple yet extraordinary, making it easier for readers to follow through on such a grim topic.

Wilson-Crane keeps the chapters concise and appropriate for the information she wants to convey without overwhelming her readers with unnecessary details. The book is a quick read, and one can devour it for the wealth of information. Each chapter ends with the authors’ version of mourning etiquettes and how one can honor the privacy of the families who have lost someone very close.

As a reader, I am super grateful for such insights. Sixteen Days by Victoria Wilson-Crane’s background on the deceased, inevitable death, and the aftermath of death that surrounds everyone related, this book will be a great addition to anyone’s reading list. Sixteen Days is one of the most influential books I have read in the grief and self-help genre.

Pages: 95 | ASIN : B09Q996K6X

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From Dusk to Dawn

From Dusk to Dawn: The Vicissitudes of Life by Henry Krauss is a unique poetry collection that manages to merge marvelous depictions of natural phenomena, family life, personal dramas, grief, and loss. The short verses are accompanied by photography and illustrations that match each poem’s scenario. With a picture of icicles slowly thawing in winter, a picture of an elegant elderly lady, an ominous ICU ward, or a chirping bird together, they conjure a picturesque, almost bucolic aesthetic.

Perhaps this piece of literature’s most distinctive feature is the author’s remarkable universal knowledge. From chemistry to biological sciences, politics, and history, the author shows confidence in mixing elements of different areas of knowledge between the lines. Especially noteworthy are the In the Eyes of the Beholder and “Gennie” poems.

In In the Eyes of the Beholder, Krauss vividly describes a hospital intensive care unit that houses two patients. One patient likely has a benign diagnosis, and one who is likely terminal, showing himself to be quite knowledgeable in the field of medicine and familiar with such a clinical setting and its ambiance and the complications faced by patients in it.

“Gennie,” on another subject, touches upon the topic of slavery in America and its consequences that permeate time and still pose hurdles to people of color to the present day.

The author’s sensitivity in describing the female figure is also heartwarming. In the last poem of the anthology, Krauss presents his Aunt Esther in a homonymous work: she is described as a resilient elderly woman whose memory is held close by the author, a refreshing depiction of the feminine written by a male author.

From Dusk to Dawn: The Vicissitudes of Life is a thought-provoking poetry collection. With an expansive range of topics, readers from all walks of life will find something that resonates with them in this impassioned book.

Pages: 64 | ASIN : B09D7HCKWP

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Requiem 

Requiem is BJ Taylor’s riveting continuation of The Borderland Mysteries, a fantastic crime fiction series portrayed in a unique format. Suspicious activity is occurring yet again around the territorial border. It’s up to U.S. Federal Marshal Gabriella Zamora and her team to investigate and uncover the mystery, protecting the civilians with value and honor.

A series of murders have been recorded: young Mexican women are being viciously murdered by a possible serial killer creeping into the area of the maquiladoras near the border. The industry of the maquiladoras is very important to the U.S.’s economy, bringing a new dimension to the problem at hand. Again, the team is involved in the investigation of a crime that could have relevant political and economical implications. This time the crime seems riskier and poses a real danger to the team: will they find out the truth behind everything without suffering any damage?

One of the most intriguing elements of this book is Gabriella Zamora’s team. They are diverse and unique, each of them bringing something new and different to this enthralling story, thus turning it into a very dynamic and gripping narrative. Through this series, the attachment to the characters continues to grow progressively, showing true potential for future books. The plot presented is a little more complex than in the first book as the crimes become more serious. However, the characters’ charm makes the whole plot an adventure worth following.

There is tension and a true sense of mystery that keeps the reader captivated at all times, flying through every page. This is not your typical mystery series though, there are creative elements in the story that make it stand out from the conventional books of this genre. One of these elements is the connection with spirituality that some of the characters have, each of them remaining faithful to their culture and illustrating in a beautiful manner the spiritual aspect of peoples’ lives on the border. The author has portrayed these spiritual beliefs in a respectful and beautiful manner.

Requiem is a suspenseful mystery novel that will draw readers in from the start. Diversity, culture, family, and strange enigmas are key elements in this stunning book. This is a thrilling crime adventure with a compelling plot that deals with friendship and morals; perfectly balancing the good and the bad of humanity.

Pages: 159 | ASIN : B09VWG44ZT

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Hallelujah

Hallelujah by BJ Taylor is the first book of the Borderland Mysteries, a beautifully engaging story surrounding culture, justice, and humanity. U.S. Federal Marshal for Texas, Gabriella Zamora, is needed to find out what really happened in a car accident that caused the death of one Border Patrol Agent and the severe injury of another. Theories and unfounded rumors are spreading as the President of the United States see this event as an opportunity to boost his campaign against illegal Mexican immigrants. Even though no one knows what really happened, people are starting to believe that the agents were purposely killed by immigrants near the border and see this occurrence as a danger to national security that needs to be addressed immediately.

Gabriella Zamora and her team are willing to work on this task and find the truth behind the brutal accident, committed to protecting immigrants from falsehoods exposed on social media by certain political agencies. This realistic book deals quite accurately with the way our current world uses politics and distorts the truth to fit a given agenda. Serious themes such as racism and homophobia are dealt with respect and in a delicate way that exposes how cruel and inhuman it is to declare war on a group of people based solely on who they are or where they come from.

The plot is presented as a mystery that needs to be solved. We follow the assigned crew as they interview people and follow clues, trying to figure out what happened. The characters are diverse and have very distinct personalities. The culture that is part of the borderland territories is an important aspect of this gripping book and is showcased beautifully. Different elements such as spirituality, art, and culture are displayed quite freely, giving the story some uniqueness and creativity. Parts of the book are also centered around the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, which was a unique approach that worked well with the story.

When the world of politics pervades everything, Gabriella Zamora and her team seem to know their job is to remain grounded, staying connected to the natural world and their culture as they devote their lives to protecting humans and fighting for justice.

Hallelujah is a fast-paced short story, easy to read, and leaves readers wanting to figure out what new mysteries will be brought to light in the second book. This political thriller covers realistic situations and relevant topics to the world today.

Pages: 98 | ASIN : B09VC6L3HY

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