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Guardian: Into the Light of Day, by J L Meredith, is about an alien who takes a human’s body to bring her back to life. In this new body, this alien took on the human’s name, Elizabeth, and energy, but since she isn’t genuinely human, she lives on. Over eight centuries, she has worked to save lives without revealing her identity. This changes when an asteroid is about to hit Earth. Elizabeth stops it, but the explosion sends her crashing back down with meteorites. Caught on video, Elizabeth loses her anonymity. In the turmoil of this and the meteorites, meta-humans emerge, there’s a media frenzy, and one politician seeks to take advantage. Among this, a more significant threat emerges, one that wants to use Elizabeth to destroy Earth.

I enjoyed that it wasn’t just a superhero comic book. While Elizabeth wasn’t truly human, she was relatable. As a doctor, she wanted to keep people safe and save their lives, but she didn’t want to be in the spotlight.

Meredith did a great job of making Elizabeth strong and courageous. But he also gave her a couple of enemies that weren’t easy for her to overcome. However, her heart and willingness to help really brought her to life.

Guardian into the Light of Day, by J L Meredith, provides readers with a great story, a great protagonist, and some nail-biting moments. This action and adventure superhero novel will keep readers engaged from the start and even give them a bit of romance without going over the top.

Pages: 522 | ASIN : B09ML7V944

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The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure

The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure by Andree Jannette follows the story of three older women; Cathy, Linda, and Betsy. The women had met at a book club in their hometown, and although they come from different backgrounds, they quickly became acquainted. Their promise to a dear friend to scatter her ashes at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico leads them on a journey of adventure, friendship, and romance. Following a late-night incident that brings them into an encounter with an injured dog, the trio finds themselves in an RV community. After spending a few weeks in this community,  each woman’s life changes unexpectedly.

The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure focuses on three older women. Andree Jannette did a fine job shedding light on the conditions that accompany humans’ aging process, including illnesses,  grief, and uncertainty. The novel presents the ups and downs of old age, a reality not often explored in literary works. It consists of colorful elderly characters as they retain the youth’s passion, adventurous spirit, and romance. The author refuses to present these characters as frail or dependent. Reading this helps one come to terms with aging and the end of life. The book is also incredibly heartwarming, with the inclusion of pet characters.

Jannette has written a comforting story of healing. However, at times I felt the storytelling was disjointed; secondary characters tended to overshadow the leading trio in the plot. Despite those things, this is a story of strength, of finding the spark and passion inside of oneself to face challenges and overcome obstacles. Life is full of the unexpected, and this novel teaches readers that even those moments, while they might look bad at the start, can lead to beautiful discoveries.

The Tea Drinker’s Guide to Adventure is a beautifully written women’s adventure novel. The bonds of friendship between the characters and the sparks of romance they feel will keep readers engaged and following the trio through this unexpected journey they end up on together.

Pages: 308 | ASIN : B0BD22NSLF

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The Elephant in the Room 

Much like its front cover, The Elephant in the Room by Jill Campbell-Mason is a colorful story of Ella and Warren’s trip to Indonesia after meeting Asta and Henry on a cruise ship, who invited them to stay at their home in Jakarta. This is more than just a fascinating travel adventure story. It sheds light on the dynamic culture and social differences of those living in Indonesia.

Keen to prepare for the upcoming trip, they meet with Aunt Clara to probe her memories for any tips she may have on relating to a foreign culture without causing offense. Upon arriving, the couple soon discovers that Aunt Clara’s tales of the southeast were not exaggerated and the country is more exotic and fascinating than any fiction tale, complete with wild elephants that still barge into villages uninvited and infrastructure that is essentially non-existent.

Blink for a second, and you will be lost. This story moves quickly. The writing style is highly complex, loaded with figurative expressions and phrases that are utilized to tell the story of multiple characters across various periods of time. This technique works well to incorporate historical context and picks up on key issues of racism, religion, discrimination, power, and poverty. However, Campbell-Mason’s tone fluctuates often and can be read as somewhere in the middle of past and present, which can be difficult to follow. The inclusions of so many characters also create barriers to a deeper connection.

As the title suggests understanding the role of elephants is key to understanding the underlying lessons of this narrative; how an individual’s actions can alter the trajectory of a nation or their courage to bring down tyranny and criminality can create harmony and reunite the community. They represent human life and the values within humanity.

The Elephant in the Room by Jill Campbell-Mason is a fantastic woman’s adventure novel addressing prejudice towards some of the most marginalized groups in society. The juxtaposition of the two couples worked well to provide a two-lens approach to understanding Indonesian culture and faith – it will leave you with great conversation starters!

Pages: 421 | ASIN : B0B7F1G5HW

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The Lockhart Women

The Lockhart Women is a debut novel by author Mary Camarillo. This novel follows the Lockhart family as they navigate some pretty intense life events. From divorce to undiagnosed mental illness to organized crime, this story just about covers it all. Each chapter is told from the perspective of the three girls of the Lockhart family: Brenda (mom), Peggy (daughter), and Allison (daughter) as they try to reconfigure their lives after their husband and father left.

As the story progresses, we learn more about the personal lives of the three Lockharts and the secrets they keep from each other. Drawing on real life events, the story takes place at the same time the infamous O.J. Simpson trial occurred. Using this memorable event in history gives readers a period reference and they can draw some parallels between those involved in the case and the characters in the story.

Camarillo’s writing was intriguing and fast paced, each chapter adds to to the adrenalin rushing plot build. This standalone novel was written in a way that doesn’t leave you with lingering questions. The author did an excellent job tying up loose ends and concluding certain character storylines. She also created each character in a way that you could vividly imagine them right in front of you. In many cases, I found myself relating to all three of the Lockhart women in some way.

The characters are very relatable and will appeal to a wide selection of readers. The Lockhart women are written in a way readers can put themselves in their shoes and experience their development beyond the page. There were only a few characters that I felt could have been developed further but they were not pivotal to the storyline.

The Lockhart Women, by Mary Camarillo, is a well developed story, has characters that are memorable, and enough action to keep the plot exciting and readers constantly guessing what could happen next.

Pages: 351 | ASIN:  B08DKK51XF

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Becoming a Woman of Substance

Becoming a Woman of Substance by [Karma Kitaj]

Becoming A Woman of Substance, by Karma Kitaj, is a riveting tale of bravery and passion. The story follows the journey of Miriam Butler, a woman who struggles with demons from the past, and also of obtaining her dreams while navigating the tumultuous social and political world. Set in the 1930-1940’s, Miriam experiences struggling through the Great Depression and the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust. Miriam has many interactions with people from all walks of life. It is from these interactions, both negative and positive, that shape Miriam and drive her to follow her heart and make a difference; even if the path is not one easily traveled.

Kitaj is a spectacular writer who does not shy away from hitting the hard topics. These topics include racism, sexism, and mental illness, which I find were handled expertly by providing viewpoints from all sides. Rather than preaching her thoughts on the topics, Kitaj uses interactions and dialogue to teach not only the main character, but also the audience, of how many people struggled during these times.

With her carefully crafted words, Kitaj was able to show that not all people experience prejudice the same way. Miriam was treated poorly due to her background, but upon hearing stories from others, came to see her situation in a different light and drove her to make a change. I really love this take on presenting these topics as it allows for an open discussion which is important when attempting to make a change. Kitaj drives home the point that throughout these difficult times, Miriam is able to persevere and really become rooted in herself and her beliefs, ultimately becoming a woman of substance.

I do wish that there would have been more focus on a few topics to enhance my understanding. There were phrases or situations that I would have liked to have more on. For example, explanation as to the Jewish words used or the specific situations that Miriam and Izy encountered at the conclusion of the book. As I don’t have experience in those situations, I would have loved to learn more in depth so that I could understand fully how the characters felt and handled those situations.

Kitaj’s style of writing is clear and concise, which allow for there to be a focus on the plot and topics at hand. Although the chapters were a telling of Miriam’s story, the author does include Miriam’s and her husband Noel’s personal thoughts to be relayed through journal entries. I really appreciate this as it adds depth and brings the characters to life as they explore their inner thoughts and feelings.

Becoming a Woman of Substance is an amazing mix of historical and fictional characters, it feels as if I was reading the actual life story of a women from that timeframe. This book gave me new perspectives and a sense of pride as a woman.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B09HN74C65

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Goods & Effects

Goods & Effects by Al Schnupp is a heartwarming story about a Mennonite woman in the 60’s named Hannah Mercer who’s trying to find her way in the world after the passing of her family. To help her gain independence and explore the world around her, she opens up a little shop on wheels called Hannah’s Goods & Effects. Along the way, we watch her grow into herself and face backlash from the town deacon because she has decided to march to the beat of her own gigantic drum. This inspiring story left me craving more in the best way possible!

Schnupp is a master at conveying real human emotions. Hannah and the side characters in this story felt realistic and fully-fledged. That comment is typically hard to give for books of this length. We received enough backstory about our protagonist without drowning in useless information. In a matter of 174 pages, our author managed to bring his characters to life and execute it beautifully. Further speaking on the character development, I appreciated Schnupp’s ability to write a female main character without her seeming like a mystical fantasy. That is a rare accomplishment from modern male authors. I also wanted to share my appreciation for diverse representation, especially for the time period the story takes place. We read about characters from different races as well as different abilities. Darla was an absolute treat to read about! This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the stunning writing and language used throughout the novel. It is simple yet carefully crafted. I felt that Schnupp spent a great deal of time choosing how to depict the story through language alone. Despite the simplicity, there was never a dull moment in the story. I was always waiting to see what Hannah would do next! Although parts of the story were sad, it was predominantly heartwarming.

Goods & Effects is a fantastic fall read, and I can’t wait to read it again in the future. If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking this book up, curling up on the couch, and sipping a mug of your favorite warm drink. You will fly through it, and it’s the best way to consume this story.

Pages: 166 | ASIN: B08XW1S1N6

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Real Women’s Stories 2018

Real Women's Stories 2018: A powerful, inspiring collection of short stories by and about real women. by [Beth Kallman Werner]

Real Women’s Stories 2018, edited by Beth Kallman Werner is a potent take on the journeys of twelve women. The chapters of the book vividly present to the readers the upheavals of a woman’s life, and the struggles that often go unnoticed by the world. 

This collection brings together women from different spheres of life, transcending ethnicity, and borders. Narrated in a simple tone, the honest stories take center stage, immersing the readers in an incredibly beautiful journey. This book is a light-read, but the essence of the experience of these women is nonetheless powerful, leaving a strong impact on the reader. 

Each of the stories is vastly different from one another, but somewhere, there is an invisible thread connecting them, predominated by the indomitable spirit of these amazing women. The writings exhibit a seamless flow of emotions, difficulties, losses, and triumphs, and make us understand this world a little better, from the perspective of real women. These are not stories of world-renowned stars, but in their personal lives, these women are the superheroes– dealing with battles and championing them too. 

These stories are curated not only for women but also for men. It allows a glimpse into the life of a average women and documents their life in powerful words. This book reveals certain aspects of these women’s lives that are hardly recognized in society. From stories of war, surviving abuse, to creating a successful business– you will find a beautiful amalgamation of anecdotes, reflected through these short and gripping pieces. 

The stories are crisp and unputdownable, which makes them all the more impactful. Since these women belong to completely different backgrounds, the settings in each of the stories are vastly different. 

Through these twelve short pieces, you can undertake a journey to celebrate their wins, while also learning about how they paved ways for themselves in the world. As real, living humans, living away from glitz and glory, the inspiring tales of these women are sure to move every reader. 

I would like to give this book a 5/5, owing to its sheer simplicity of narration, and capturing human emotions, difficulties, and victories with utmost subtlety. This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to delve deep into the lives of women who live away from the limelight.

Pages: 146 | ASIN: B076Q3L3Q2

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River’s Child

When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.

Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.

Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.

Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.

Seiler offers readers a picture of  what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.

Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399

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