Unconditional: Just Me and My Scattered Thoughts, a book of poetry by T. Renee, delves into controversial issues in a frank and unflinching manner, turning pain into beauty, all the while hoping to engage the reader with an open mind and willing heart. Renee invites the reader on a journey through the past, present, and to a hopefully more unified future. There's a certain thread of lyricism throughout Renee's work that demands each page be read aloud as the reader dives into what truly make us human and connects all of us together.
As I was reading Unconditional, I found myself connecting with each poem deeply, and I feel that Renee's passion for each word shows through with each poem. Renee hops between a few different topics in Unconditional, but remembrance and strength seem to be a central theme, as well as honoring all those who came before us and whose sacrifice made us who we are today. It carries a lot of emotional impact. Renee uses a minimalist approach, yet manages to capture the essence of a thought and convey this to the reader without weighing them down in torrents of florid prose. In Unconditional, T. Renee creates a simple collection that is sure to sit with the reader long after the last page is turned. I enjoyed every passage and feel that Unconditional would be a great read for fans of poetry. I expect that T. Renee is a name that will be seen more often in the future.
His mother had given everything she had to protect him. Born Noss touched, there were those who would call Ruka cursed. Children like him were not allowed to live in some places, although some northern laws protected them from the death sentence that people were all too willing to preach was right. She loved him, she believed he was a child of prophecy, one who would destroy and create the world anew. Ruka, however, believed no such things. He lacked his mother's faith in the gods, and sought only to live. But he was an outlaw, unjustly accused and unfairly sentenced. He vowed to survive, to live on for his mother. He took everything that was good and buried it in a haven of his own, making a place where he could be all he wished, a place where things in the real world didn't matter. Except they did. While Ruka tries to survive, a young prince tries to find his place in the world. Sent to the navy, unsure of his calling, Kale finds camaraderie and earns the respect of many. Before both these men lies a difficult future, one that will either save the world or see it burn.
There a complex depth to the characters in Richard Nell's Kings of Paradise (Ash and Sand Book 1). I enjoyed watching each of their developments. Dala, Kale, and Ruka have very different stories, different lives, and yet all three are destined to change the world. I loved how these characters grew and changed when challenged by circumstances. Weakness becomes strength, and the power and strength of an idea is central to this story. Written with a flair befitting the world of fantasy, and with a passion the reader can't help but experience. There is so much depth to the plot, characters, world building, and hierarchy that you can't help but be drawn into this world of darkness, entitlement, and hatred. Sometimes things must be destroyed to be built anew, a theme explored in this impressive tale. Love, betrayal, loyalty, honour, sac...
Reviewed by Robin Goodfellow for Readers' Favorite
Heiress to Waitress: The Royal Tea Shop Book 1 by Ginny Clyde is a young adult romance about rising up from where you’ve fallen, and learning how to live by your own strength. Olivia, her younger brother, James, and their mother, Sarah, had recently been robbed of everything by their Uncle Kelvin. After having to move from their home in Edinburgh to the United States, Olivia is taken aback by her new school. Despite it all, she meets a mysterious classmate named Ryan, who tries to protect her in the best way he can. Even so, she manages to get a job as a waitress at a tea shop, where she soon learns that she can make it in America with the help of her family and newfound friends.
This book presented an interesting situation of when a family loses their wealth. Olivia, her mother, and James struggled to adjust, and while they did a wonderful job of it, I doubt they would’ve known what to do if not for the fact that people like Stacie and Jonathan were there to support them. True, it was, admittedly, amusing to see them trying to live their everyday lives, but I was happy that they slowly began to grow accustomed to it. It made me realize just how much they took for granted, something that is reflected in everyday life. While it can be a bit cheesy at times, the book is also a good, clean young adult read that everyone can enjoy. I didn’t particularly like Olivia’s love interest, but Ginny Clyde got me hooked with this story. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bit of clean romance every now and then.
Notes To My Baby - I Love You Already by Vesna M. Bailey is a non-fiction book for mothers-to-be with all the right elements to become a keepsake treasure for her child when they are old enough to appreciate all it entails. Chock full of crisp photography illustrating children of different ethnicities and ages, both in color and in black and white, and laden with inspirational and loving quotes, Bailey has created a practical, artful, and expressive tome. Throughout the book there are lined pages for mothers to write their own notes to their babies, expressing their own love, which is preceded by a message or poem crafted by Bailey. This is the third book in the Notes series.
First of all, I have to admit that this book forced me to reach a bit deeper emotionally than I have when perusing similar books (mostly as baby shower gifts) over the years. More than anything else, it is a gentle nudge onto the reflective side of motherhood, offering a platform to write what she's feeling: the anticipation, the excitement, the hope, and the love she has for the child she will soon be bringing home. Even without a baby on the way, Notes To My Baby - I Love You Already by Vesna M. Bailey got me a little choked up. It's beautiful in presentation and thoughtfulness, and I recommend it to all who are having a baby or know someone else who is. It will hands-down be the go-to gift I pick up for expecting friends at their baby showers.
Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Be careful what you wish for. How many times have we been told that over the years? It’s a valuable lesson for all of us to learn, young and old. Young Robbie is about to learn this lesson, not from his parents, but from a very unlikely source: a genie. How? Robbie finds an interesting brass lamp in a second-hand shop and convinces his mother to buy it for him. It takes some convincing, but he really wants the lamp. Back home, while he is polishing the lamp, a genie appears. But this genie doesn’t agree to grant the usual three wishes one expects from a genie. He agrees to grant only one wish and there are some rules to consider. Quite a few rules, actually. Basically, Robbie’s wish can’t in any way, shape or form, change Robbie’s life or anyone else’s. Frustrated, Robbie finally concedes defeat by voicing an opinion which includes the words: I wish.
Brad Bott’s picture book story, Just One Wish, is a charming, clever, educational story that will also warm the hearts of young and old alike. Borrowing an oft-told fable of a magical lamp with a genie inside, the author weaves a story around a young boy who has many wishes, some that might even benefit others. Robbie has no idea whatsoever as to what might be the best wish of all, the wish that fits all the rules and guidelines presented by the genie. The story takes this magical theme to a higher level to help young readers appreciate that dreams and wishes are things to work towards, not to be granted at whim. It certainly demands that the reader ponder their own options: If you had one, and only one, wish, what would you wish for?
Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
Give Place to Wrath by Steven C Harms tells the story of a police investigative team crossing state borders in the United States on the trail of what they come to realize is a serial killer. All the murdered victims are women, and their demises are closely followed by the suicides of their respective husbands. Each body is found with a number, each death is staged and gives countdown clues beginning with number six, the wife killed on a golf course in a massive explosion. The story is told from the point of view of the police team headed up by Roger Viceroy, who has demons of his failed marriage to contend with, and from the point of view of the killer himself. There is a Christian theme running throughout the book; Viceroy’s best friend is a local pastor whose church he attends.
I enjoyed reading Give Place to Wrath by Steven C Harms for several reasons. The characters were well drawn, and I could picture them very clearly. The writing flowed easily, which is very important for me as a reader. I also liked the realism. So often the main police chief has a lightning moment and solves the crime by connecting the dots and announcing the name of the killer. While Roger Viceroy looks for what he calls ‘molecules,’ the whole team is involved in the investigation. While the reader is slowly given the answers, it’s ‘Silk’ - the African American on the team - who discovers the basic information which joins those molecules. The killer also sends them direct clues, yet is smart enough to stay several jumps ahead. I also loved the intricate murders themselves, cleverly staged, each with a particular message as the countdown from six to one continues. The actions that begin the path to avenging the initial death, several years before in 1982, knit together so well that towards the end of the book I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A well-edited book, fun to...
In Undercover Princess by Lenora Worth, Ellie returns to her roots to save her father and her legacy, the Castle Department Store, from ruin. Her plan is met with a hiccup when shoe designer Nico Lamon chooses her to represent his new line of shoes. No matter their attraction, family must come first.
Lenora Worth truly captures the magic of Cinderella in this modern-day romance. Her portrayal of Ellie as a strong, independent woman proves that empowerment need not take away from the magic of falling in love, and who wouldn't want to fall for the tall, dark, and handsome Italian prince? Worth does an admirable job of following the classic fairy tale while updating it with some interesting twists that will appeal to the adult in each of us while remembering the little girl inside also needs attention. Her remake of every little girl's dream castle brought a smile to my face and a twinkle to my eye.
The one negative aspect of this fairy tale remake is also one reason it makes for the perfect light reading selection; end result, the plot is somewhat predictable. Even with its face-lift, Ellie will find her happily ever after. Fortunately, her journey to happiness, while familiar, deviates enough to keep the pages turning and reader attention focused on the well-developed characters, the excellent pacing, and the one thing we can all use more of—dreams coming true. The addition of stylish shoes, dreamy attire, and faithful friends is just the bonus to what is already an entertaining story.
Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
The Country Girl Empress tells of the early days of Princess Elisabeth, daughter of Duke Max in Bavaria, called Sisi within the family. We follow her story from birth to the day she married Franz Joseph, son of Archduchess Sophie of Austria and her feeble-minded husband, Archduke Franz Carl. Born on Christmas Eve, little Sisi was not a particularly beautiful baby; her elder sister Néné was much prettier and her mother, Princess Ludovika of Bavaria and sister to Sophie, the Archduchess, planned early on a match between their children - Néné and Franz Joseph. Both Néné and Sisi grew up moving between their country house in Possenhofen and their palatial residence in Munich. Both girls, especially Sisi, were allowed a lot of freedom, and the younger sister had much in common with her father, who was more than a little eccentric. They both adored horses and would take long rides together in the countryside and performed in their own private circus built next to the palace. Since Néné was destined to marry the Emperor’s son, she was granted less freedom and received a more conventional education. Today we would call Sisi a ‘wild child’ who attracted more than a few romantic overtures from young men, all of which were nipped in the bud by her ever-watchful mother.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Country Girl Empress by A. Piper Burgi. The characters flew off the page and I connected with Sisi; she was such a delight, albeit a little spoilt. I loved reading about her father who was such a character and, like his daughter, had little time for the strict conventions of the age in high society. This book takes you back to Austria in the 19th century, with the intrigue of two sisters planning a liaison between their children, who frankly were not interested in each other. Then fate takes an unexpected turn and a romance blossoms where none is expected. The author skillfully transp...
In Mason's Missing by Teresa Burrell, five-year-old Mason was last seen running towards a man the teacher assumed to be his father, and getting into a dark blue Toyota RAV4. Days pass and there is no sign of Mason or a ransom demand. Word of mouth reaches Mason’s desperate mother, giving her cause to approach Tuper. He is thought to be the best, and she would do anything to enlist his services. But the stubborn and honourable Tuper is not in this line of work for the money; he has his own code, and he lives by it. Agreeing to take the case, despite his suspicions that everything is not as it seems, he stumbles across someone who can help him advance his investigation quicker. This new duo starts the hunt for Mason, uncovering strange circumstances and buried secrets as they progress. Mason is missing, but all is not as it first seems. Can they uncover the truth and find the boy before the unthinkable happens?
I found Teresa Burrell’s writing style to be really easy going, so much so that I read the entire book in a single sitting. I was right there alongside Tuper and Lana as they tracked down leads and began to build the foundations of their new friendship. Red herrings, murder, mystery, mistakes, secrets, and peril; it doesn’t get any better than this to make a good recipe for a mystery story, and Mason's Missing (A Tuper Mystery Book 1) has them all. You’ll share the frustrations and victories of the characters as they delve deeper into the mystery and unravel the surprising truth about what actually happened. A really strong first book in a series, with just enough information about the lead characters so that they remain an intriguing mystery you want to learn more about.
Wow! I don’t know where to start. I had hoped that Errant Gods: Blood of the Isir Book One by Erik Henry Vick was a good read. I doubted that it was as good as Stephen King’s The Dark Tower because that series is one of the best I have ever read. Period. I’m not going to say Errant Gods is better than The Dark Tower. Loyalty is a very strong facet of my personality, and I am a longtime Stephen King fan. What I will say is this. If you liked The Dark Tower, if you like the writing of Stephen King, then read Errant Gods. It is good, no, it is great! It is powerful, and it is writing of the highest level. I never thought I would be able to read a writer that wrote in that style of moving in and out of dimensions and describes pure evil as well as Stephen King does. I was wrong. Erik Henry Vick is the real thing, and I look forward to reading him for just as long a time as I have been reading Stephen King.
Two pages into Errant Gods I was blown away by the sheer power of the writing. The beauty and style used to describe a conversation between two obviously evil people, driven only by their primal desires, is beautiful in its straightforward simplicity. I usually review a book by stating which literary element I feel is its strongest point, but I am at a loss now. What do you say when all the elements are above and beyond anything you have read in a very long time? The writing is excellent. The characters are brilliant. I can go on and on about every part of this book, but the best thing I can do is to tell you to read it. You won’t regret it.
Whispers is a young adult social issues novel written by Lynn Yvonne Moon. No one expected the twelve-year-old daughter of the deceased to punch her father’s body in the face as he lay in his casket during the funeral service. Listening to Pastor Johnson go on about her father, and seeing all the bereaved lamenting his death had struck a chord in Musetta that could only be addressed by action. She knew she had upset her mother, especially when she shouted out, “Rot in Hell, you bastard!” as her aunt led her out of the room, but it was exactly how she felt. No one knew what Musetta had been going through for the last two years of her life. No one knew that every Friday night he would come up to her room and do unspeakable things to her. Her own father had become a monster. Punching his corpse had been weird; it felt more like she had struck an inanimate object and her blow had left a dent in his face, but it had been an irresistible impulse to act. Auntie Delphina soon sussed out that Musetta had deep issues relating to her father’s abusive behavior and had eventually prevailed upon her to agree to see Dr. Shapiro once a week. It would take time for healing, everyone said, but then the unexpected began to happen.
Lynn Yvonne Moon’s social issues novel for young adults, Whispers, is a taut and compelling story about an abused daughter whose dead father seems to be haunting her from the grave. Moon’s story is genuinely terrifying and suspenseful as Musetta and her friends attempt to solve the mystery of a dead man who seems very much alive and intent on destroying his daughter. Alongside the suspense and mystery is a grand coming of age story as Musetta begins the healing process, starting with her father’s death and continuing with the support of her aunts and friends. Anyone who’s been fascinated by large houses filled with secret passageways and hidden tunnels will have a field day reading this well-w...
Al Clark: Avalon by Jonathan G. Meyer is the second in the Al Clark space adventure series and takes up the story five years after the colonization of the planet Avalon. Earth was dying a slow death. Of the one thousand that began the journey on Excalibur, an Earth colony ship, only eight hundred plus lived the many-years journey to start a new world. After clearing their new home of nearby predators, the unspoiled mountain valley they settled into provided all their needs, and their technology and resources of their orbiting ship made Avalon a paradise Now the resources are running out and they need to discover and mine new natural resources.
On a search for the necessary resources, they find something extraordinary, something that is the answer to all their problems, maybe. But, they have another problem, a new group of highly intelligent predators has banded together to destroy the newcomers and restore their land. Although starving, they are biding their time until the perfect moment to strike. Al knows they must do something if the colonists are to survive this new deadly threat…
Another great story by Jonathan G. Meyer! In the second installment, Al Clark: Avalon, Meyer has taken his characters and expanded them to show strengths and weaknesses. He has introduced new content and characters, and the plot twists keep the reader wanting more. The sense of danger is ever present and the reader will want to keep turning the pages to see if and when disaster will strike. If you like good, simple space adventure, then this series is a must-read for you. I'm looking forward to reading part 3.
The Mercenary: The War Chronicles Book 1 by Petra Landon takes us into deep space. There, on a space station in Quadrant 5, we meet Saakshi, a former rebel from the planet Budheya. Saakshi has been imprisoned by the ruling Keetari Imperial Forces. Her prison sentence was sold to a trader on the space station, and he employs her as a server in his bar. When a Keetari soldier on leave wanders into Saakshi’s bar, spots her and remembers her from her rebel activities on Budheya, he determines to have this beautiful Budheyan woman as his own at any cost. At her boss’ urgings, Saakshi seeks help from a Hadari’Kor mercenary called Zoran, who captains his own star ship and is currently docked at the space station on Sector 5. The attraction between Zoran and Saakshi is instantaneous and mutual, but both are hamstrung in their ability to admit and express their love for each other. Zoran will do anything to protect Saakshi. As well as the love he has for her, there is the knowledge that the once proud and powerful Budheyan people had, in the past, helped all in the galaxy, including the Hadari’Kor. His love for Saakshi and his moral compass set him in a direct line for confrontation with the Keetari Imperial Forces.
The Mercenary: The War Chronicles Book 1, by Petra Landon is a stunningly good science fiction story. I prefer my science fiction not too heavy on technological wizardry and fantastic gizmos and more focused on character development and plot. This book certainly fills that requirement perfectly. Landon has a wonderfully easy writing style that flows and makes the story an easy read. Her characters - diverse, different species from all over the galaxy - are believable and the relationship between Zoran and Saakshi is both beautiful and filled with angst. I loved that Saakshi was no shrinking violet and was prepared to stand up to and fight whatever was in her way. What she lacked in size, she mo...