Category Archives: Reviews

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Book Review – The Angel and the Brown-Eyed Boy

The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy – Hope at World’s End

Author: Sandy Nathan
Format: Paperback
A good book elicits an emotional response while being read; Nathan’s book haunts the reader long after the final page is turned.  In Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy two dying worlds fight for survival, their futures dependent on a revolutionary and an angelic otherworldly dancer.  Nathan shows us a future Earth whose indifferent citizens and uneducated politicians have allowed their fears to rule them believing everything they are told even in the face of the reality around them.  It is world not that many heartbeats away from our own, making the premise chilling.
Hope lies in the few who stand and fight for their beliefs, but they must do so in secrecy.  Clandestine operatives in the government are ever watchful of the citizenry, quashing dissension immediately; people literally disappear in the middle of the night never to be heard from again.
Angel explores a number of themes crossing political and cultural boundaries.  Should one put their faith solely in their leadership?  What about following orders—are there lines that should never be crossed even in support of one’s country?  When does one stop trying to change the system from within and instead become a revolutionary?  And what of family—what does one do when one’s own family members believe in something diametrically opposed to one’s own beliefs?  How far does a person go to save themselves, their friends, their family, and their world?
This future world is dark and disturbing a pre apocalyptic malaise covering the Earth similar to the movie Children of Men.  Is there hope?  Yes, Jeremy and Eliana are the key.  But to what end?  Future volumes of the tale will tell.


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Book Review – Blood Opal!

Blood Opal – The Curse of the Blood Opal!

Rating: 5 of 5

Author: Carole Sutton
Format: Paperback
Tags: crime fiction, murder, mystery, Cornwall, Goodreads author
After a long day at work, Pug Germaine returns home only to find it in complete disarray.  Convinced her husband has tossed it during one of his more and more frequent foul moods, she cautiously searches for his whereabouts only to find him in the arms of another woman both of them covered in blood—murdered!  Horrified she contacts the police and soon learns not only has he been cheating but he has leveraged all of their assets on bad investments.  In a heartbeat, she’s lost everything—her husband, home, and business.  Determined to start anew, she sails off.  But Pug’s troubles are only beginning.  Her husband’s killers haven’t found what they are looking for and they are convinced Pug has it.

In Blood Opal, Carole Sutton once again demonstrates her prowess in creating rich characters, describing beautiful settings, and formulating an engrossing and complex plot.  So drawn was I to her unlikely heroine Pug, that I easily felt her fears and frustrations and wondered as she did who to trust.  The legend of the Blood Opal and its curse and back story were fascinating and with the prodding from Celeste—Pug’s friend and confidant—one can not help but wonder if there is some truth to the curse as death  follows in its wake.

Sutton’s knack for storytelling quickly engrosses the reader in this well crafted murder mystery and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned.  Fans of this genre should quickly add this to their shelves.


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Book Review – Slow Love

Slow Love a Polynesian Pillow Book – Take Your Time and Enjoy One of Life’s Treasures!

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Author: James N. Powell
Format: Paperback

Imagine waking to the soft sounds of gentle waves rolling and crashing along a white sandy beach, crystal clear water, and food plentiful within a hands reach as a warm breeze caresses your skin.  For some this sounds like a perfect vacation where one can unwind, relax, and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  But what if this wasn’t a vacation?  What if this is where you lived?  Imagine a society raised isolated in paradise—no influence from the outside world and all around is beauty and the requisites for life are easily attained.  Without the day to day struggles for survival, life for early Polynesians was one to be savored and not rushed.  So too was their lovemaking.

In Slow Love, James Powell does a masterful job at interweaving Polynesian myths with reality taking the reader on a journey through history of their land and society both before and after the influence from Western Europe.  Throughout this journey, Powell informs on the techniques and benefits of taking one’s time while making love the Polynesian way.  I didn’t expect but was pleasantly surprised not only by the rich cultural history provided by the book, but also the scientific explanations involving neurochemical reactions that can practitioners can benefit from leading to deeper, closer and lasting love between partners.

Powell’s writing is fluid, refined, and engaging.  Readers may find not only their views on lovemaking altered but perhaps their view on life as well.

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Book Review – Libertas

Libertas – An Epic Journey into Roman Hispania

Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA Recommended!

Author: Alistair Forrest
Format: Paperback, Kindle

High atop the Iberian Peninsula Mountains in the small somewhat forgotten village of Munda, young Melqart struggles in his sword play practice against the much larger and athletic Arsay.  Though boys will be boys, their early conflicts of brain versus brawn escalates as the two boys age.  Arsay becomes increasing jealous of Melqart who along with the help of a young girl – Leandra – ingeniously trap and kill wild bore for their village infuriating Arsay.  As the tension grows between these two, so does the faraway conflict between generals warring for control of the Roman Empire; Munda suddenly finds itself a very strategic location for these generals.  Melqart, Leandra, and Arsay’s lives are never the same as they all struggle to find their way in a rapidly changing dangerous world.

Alistair Forrest’s novel, Libertas, is an epic journey through Roman controlled Hispania in the First Century BC.  Forrest develops the characters, their desires, their motivations, and all that they are forced to give up as a result of the world events that so disrupt their lives.  One wonders what life would have been like in this quite small mountain village had the bloody Roman civil war not occurred.  Clearly their lives would have been much simpler and less painful, but would they have reached their potential for leadership, ingenuity, love, honor, and in some cases evil?  In this way, Forrest subtly explores a truism that it is in the times of genuine hardship and struggle that one’s true self and character comes forward.

I enjoy historical fiction probably for the same reasons I enjoy traveling.  Both immerse one in the local culture, an experience which greatly impacts one’s view of the world and as such broadens the mind.  Libertas was such a journey for me.  For those who enjoy this genre you will not be disappointed!

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Book Review – The Merry-Go-Round

The Merry-Go-Round – Opposites Do Attract but do They Stay Together?

Rating: 4 of 5

Donna Fasano

A year after being financially ruined by her husband Greg, Lauren Flynn goes to court to fight for a divorce he will not give her.  The court not only grants her request, but to make up for her financial losses she is also awarded Greg’s only asset, a worthless plot of land complete with a rundown barn.  Unfortunately, Lauren’s expectations of moving forward with her life are quickly dashed when she learns the barn houses not only a merry-go-round in disrepair, but her ex-husband who would be otherwise homeless.  Soon Lauren’s life is much like the carnival ride, going backwards, going forwards, and most of the time just going in circles.

Donna Fasano’s Merry-Go-Round is an easy beach read about one woman’s search for happiness.  Her main character, Lauren, has unfortunately built up in her mind what she thinks her life should be like – much like one would build a resume for a career – versus understanding and admitting to herself what truly makes her happy.

I will admit that I didn’t understand why Lauren wanted to divorce Greg.  His hardware business does fail causing them financial difficulties and he doesn’t tell her until it is too late.  But he seems like a great guy.  He treats Lauren well, plans romantic surprises, can fix just about anything, is selfless, good looking, and is constantly helping others.  On balance, he seems like a great catch.

Oddly enough, my favorite characters were not Lauren and Greg; rather, Lauren’s father Lew and her co-worker Norma Jean resonated with me.  In many ways the evolution of their relationship was more endearing than the tumult between Lauren and Greg.  They both have the wisdom and confidence that comes with age and their honesty with others and themselves was refreshing.

Fasano also does a good job building romantic tension throughout the book keeping the pages turning which made for a very enjoyable read.  I look forward to her next offering!


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Book Review – Cyber Writers and the Zebra of Life

Cyber Writers – An African Adventure Tale for Young Readers!

Rating: 4 of 5

Author: Karen Kostlivy
Format: Paperback

Being a pen pal is fun and young Mason Witt joins a group called Cyber Writers to connect with other kids around the world.  One day, however, he learns from his African friend Lutalo that his village is dying due to the theft of their magic Zebra.  Wishing he could some how help out his friend, Mason suddenly finds his world around him melt away to be replaced by thick forests of the African jungle.  Don’t worry Lutalo – Mason is here – help is on the way!

In Cyber Writers, Karen Kostlivy takes young readers on a fun and entertaining journey to Africa where talking animals and magic arrows help our young heroes track the thieves and save their village.  Mason learns, as should all children, the value of friendship, teamwork, and frankly exercise!  Running through the forest, climbing trees, shooting arrows, all requires strength and stamina and Mason learns his time in front of the TV or playing video games has left him a little soft unlike his African friend.  He also learns that his exploring adventures to be much more fun and rewarding than anything he experiences in front of a television.

Kostlivy has created an interesting premise in Cyber Writers.  One that I’m sure lends itself to future interesting volumes for young readers to enjoy.

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Book Review – Amsterdam 2012

Amsterdam 2012 – Thought Provoking Alternate Future Reality

Rating: 4 of 5

Author: Ruth Fransisco
Format: Kindle

Carefree and making their way across Europe, Peter and Anne meet a group of locals in Amsterdam willing to show them around to the various sites and galleries.  Finding their guides fun and engaging, they agree to accompany them to their home in the outskirts of town and enjoy dinner, desert, and new guests who arrive during their stay.  As the alcohol flows and the night drags on, Peter and Anne agree to spend the night in the Amsterdam couple’s old windmill recently converted to a guest bedroom.  After a restful and relaxing sleep, the young couple make their way to their guests house to help clean up and start breakfast.  Inside, they find their hosts brutally slain bodies.  What follows is a harrowing escape from Europe that will not only change their lives, but the course of the world.

In Amsterdam 2012, Ruth Fransisco paints what I would call an alternative reality of a potential future sequence of world events.  Similar to the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand which started World War I, Fransisco shows how these slayings in Amsterdam begin the start of World War III except this time, it is a war of Islam versus the rest of Europe and the United States.  I can understand the comments from some reviewers regarding the unlikely series of events or the speed upon with the Jihadists can take over so much of the world.  But this is why I call this an alternative reality.  Fransisco is hitting readers over the head with hyperbole of some of the potentially politically correct leanings of this country and how far it could take us if we aren’t home watching the store.

Do I think events could unfold as described?  No.  Do I think the book is thought provoking and compelling?  Absolutely.  Those who like a more subtle approach may not enjoy this read and would not find the United States to be so willing to embrace such radical cultural indoctrination.  Having said that, Clavell’s book “A Children’s Story” frightening shows how easily and quickly it is to change beliefs.  My estimate is this book will polarize readers but all will come away thinking.

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