Author Archives: ME

REVIEW: Musings of an Earth Angel by Suzanne Adams

Four Stars

It’s so tempting to dismiss a book with a self-righteous sneer and a couple of stars, but that’s not the job of a reviewer. When you take on the task of launching a book-centric blog and you agree to read books that others have recommended, you move on from just being a consumer who purchased and read a book, instead becoming someone who has to think of readers other than herself.

In this case, I would love to dismiss Musings of an Earth Angel as nothing more than a lot of New Age hokeydom with a pinch of Harry Potter or Mortal Instruments thrown in. But that wouldn’t be fair to the author, to the story, or to the process of book reviewing. So therefore, I’m able to acknowledge a few things about the book:

  1. No, it wasn’t my cup of tea, but the writing was solid and the storytelling was able to build in such a way that it held my interest.
  2. Yes, the topic of healing crystals and celestial visitors and empathic spiritual mentors makes me roll my eyes…but don’t other people do that to me when I bring up my religious faith? If the healing crystal and meditative mantra fit, honey, you own them…single-minded book reviewers be damned!
  3. There is action, self-reflection, and a definite path for the main character to take. If this type of fiction sounds interesting to you, I am certain you will enjoy the book.

REVIEW: The Atheist and the Parrotfish by Richard Barager

4 Stars

This has got to be one of the most interesting (and potentially “what if”) premises I’ve read in a long time. What makes it even more enticing is the fact that it’s something we all should have wondered about: does a transplant patient take on more of the organ donor’s life than just the functioning body part? Is there a spiritual connection, or something happening at the cellular level that speaks to another level of life?

Of course, Barager’s highly-complex main character grapples with other issues. His atheism is almost an angry part of him. This isn’t a comfortably aware person at peace with his steadfast belief in the pattern of life. This is someone–face it, the stereotypical atheist from the headlines rather than the peace-filled but scientific mind–who feels rage in the presence of believers, jealous that they credit God with Dr. Cullen Brodie managed to do himself: save a life.

The author also briefly explores an undercurrent of the premise that most people probably don’t imagine: is the recipient of the donation “worthy?” Yes, there are committees to decide a patient’s best chances for long-term survival, and no one wants to think that their organs were donated to a serial killer. But the aging cross-dresser (who’s only recently admitted to himself who he really is) isn’t necessarily the best candidate for the organs, not because his chances of survival are minimal, but because…is this really the best we could do with a heart and two kidneys?

Woven throughout is a highly complicated and melancholy reconnection with an old love interest, one that is designed to rip at the threads that keep Cullen’s heart and mind locked inside a fortress of disbelief.  Spiraling the book even more is the fact that the recipient of the organs, already unstable and unsure of himself, is convinced that he has become part of the female donor, that her life is now intertwined with his.

It was a very interesting read, with the only drawback being the long, sometimes winding writing style the author uses for sentence structure. Some sentences required reading once or twice to get their full meaning, but after several chapters the style felt a lot more familiar.

Available now on Amazon: click here.

REVIEW: So Let It Be Written by Mark Eglinton

4 Stars

When I read a book and have a solid sense of how I felt about it, I still enjoy reading others’ reviews to see where I’m in line with their views and where I feel like they fall short. In the case of the biography of Metallica’s James Hetfield, I had my own definite feelings about both the artist and the book, but differed from a lot of reviewers.

A quick glance through the one- and two-star categories on Amazon will tell a very different picture than the book provided for me. I felt like I was getting solid background information, much of it gleaned from interviews the author conducted, and a good overview of both Hetfield and the band as a whole.

I can see where other readers may have been disappointed, though. This isn’t an in-depth tell-all that contains never before seen information on Hetfield. Instead, it’s a nice, definitive source of information packaged into one volume. The early days of his musical career, his critical successes and failures, his friendships and relationships… those are the kinds of details that are touched on rather than dissected under a microscope. For die-hard fans of the band who know the musicians’ names, birth dates, childhood pets’ names, middle school talent show performances, and more, this won’t be any kind of revelation.

Still, fans of the band or their genre as a whole will enjoy this short read.

REVIEW: Cloud Messenger by Karen Trollope-Kumar

5 STARS

I’m a sucker for travelogue stories about individuals going off to exotic locations with the best of intentions, only to become the student upon their arrival. That was certainly the feeling I got from Trollope-Kumar’s first person experience in Cloud Messenger.

As a Canadian medical student, Karen Trollope-Kumar went to India to study social and preventive medicine and met a young pediatrician named Pradeep. His dream of working in the Himalayan foothills captured her imagination, and the man captured her heart. They married in a Hindu wedding ceremony and pledged to share a life of service and spiritual growth.

In this poignant, heartwarming, and gently humorous memoir, Karen recounts an eleven-year chapter of their unusual lives. She and Pradeep worked as medical doctors in the Himalayas, first in a rural hospital and later in remote mountain villages. When disaster struck — an assassination, an earthquake, a political crisis — their ideals, their safety, and their relationship are put at risk.

The story is insightful and the writing is detailed, but more importantly, there’s never a sense of the “white savior” who’s come to the region to make the ignorant peasants learn the “right” way of caring for themselves. I felt the author’s reasons and actions were realistic, believable, and more importantly, well-intentioned. It was a delightful, enjoyable, but instructional read.

An Awesome Mystery Giveaway!

website banner set for modern christian

Just a quick post to announce a great multi-author giveaway: here’s the link to 22 different authors’ books, free for download during their promotion! Take a look!

http://ow.ly/SDOP309bLl3

REVIEW: The Mirror Sisters by VC Andrews

mirror-sisters
REVIEW: Four Stars

You might be wondering why this site is reviewing so many VC Andrews titles as of late. The answer is quite simple: the publisher keeps sending them to us, and we’re suckers for anything that brings us back to the high school awesomeness that was finding Flowers in the Attic (plus the rest of the series) in the local library.

The Mirror Sisters, the latest offering from the household-name-slash-author-brand, features twin sisters with one of the craziest moms around. Mother takes the twin obsession to new heights; it’s not enough to dress them alike or give them rhyming first names, this woman punishes both of them whenever one of them gets in trouble. The goal is to truly create them into one being…or is it?

Since it’s from VC Andrews, you know there’s something sinister, dark, and way more than twisted at work here. Even scarier is the way the twins will strike back, with one of them make a do-or-die choice to get free.

You can read a free preview of The Mirror Sisters (Book One in the series) using the Look Inside! feature.

Jolabokaflod Review: The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

angel

First, for the uninitiated, I have to explain Jolabokaflod. It’s (supposedly) an Icelandic holiday tradition that translates into “holiday flood of books.” In Iceland, you unwrap a book and curl up to read and enjoy some chocolate on Christmas Eve. It sounds absolutely heavenly, and god help anyone who tells me it’s not a real thing because yes it is.

I know it’s a real thing because I’ve been celebrating for a few years. Early each December, I send out the call to my Facebook friends, inviting them to participate in a book swap. I got a book this year that I haven’t gotten to read yet (review coming, I swear), because I went to read it and instead decided to open this book. They were both gifted by the same extraordinary author, Delena Silverfox, whose book Duchess of War is so super cool that I hope you get it long before Jolabokaflod 2017.

Anyway, you’ve probably noticed that this review is a lot less professional-sounding than other reviews on this site, and I promise that’s on purpose. The Stupidest Angel is fun and shocking and a whirlwind of wtf moments, all centered around one little town’s Christmas festivities and the weird man who arrives looking for a child.

I can’t actually tell you much more than that because, honestly, where the heck would I begin? With one of the richest men in town hitting his ex-wife with a ten-pound bag of ice from the grocery store? With the ex-wife getting into a tussle with him later while he happens to be wearing a Santa suit, only to have the struggle turn physical and he ends up tripping and impaling himself on her shovel? Or maybe I could start with the poor little kid who happened to witness Santa’s profanity-laced rant and violence towards women, only to end up dead? Oh, don’t forget the horny newcomer in town who offers to help bury Santa so he and the unwitting would-be KringleKiller could hurry up and go grab a bite to eat?

See? Where do I even start, except by telling you to get your own copy today. It’s actually the perfect AFTER-Christmas read since it’s dark and hilarious, and since you missed Jolabokaflod by almost a week.

Read a free preview of the angel book here…

REVIEW: Her Nightly Embrace by Adi Tantimedh

nightly
5 STARS

The Ravi PI series is just about as fun as a mystery series can get without being comical or silly. While cozy mysteries certainly have their laugh-a-minute place, Tantimedh’s characters are quirky but still serious, as are the crimes themselves. While sometimes far-fetched…wait, so what? Who cares if it’s far-fetched, it’s a work of FICTION!

What really makes this book so captivating is the fact that the characters are a diverse bunch, but there’s nothing stereotypical about each person represented. Ravi Chandra Singh happens to be Indian, happens to be a seminary dropout–okay, not a Christian seminary, but so what–happens to have left his job as a high school teacher, and now happens to be a private investigator for a high-dollar London firm. All very ordinary, right? Of course not. But the fact that he’s Indian isn’t a big deal to the story, it’s just another interesting facet to the overall appeal of the book.

What I especially enjoyed what the “vignette” aspect to the stories. One mystery gets solved, another one crops up. That’s the beauty of working for a good-sized investigative firm: there is always another case. So instead of being bogged down in a chapter-by-chapter saga where clues and red herrings are doled out from start to finish, there’s the satisfaction of watch Ravi solve one case before diving headlong into another, all while the colorful people around him make their appearances.

Take a look at Book One in the series on Amazon by clicking here.

 

REVIEW: Mister Sam Shearon’s Creepy Christmas

creepy-christmas
5 Stars

Okay, I’m going to admit something that will probably get me pelted with crayons: I don’t get the whole adult coloring book thing.

First of all, if I had time to sit and color, it would probably be while I’m waiting on hold, waiting in the carpool line at the kids’ school, waiting for some kind of sport or activity practice to be over with, waiting for the washing machine to finish so I can get someone’s sport or activity uniform into the dryer, waiting for… you get the point.

More importantly, adult coloring books tend to be overly busy, meaning those geometric swirls are a middle-aged eyesight’s nightmare. The whole point was supposed to be to DE-stress, not make me stress out about accidentally going outside the lines. And if I really want to de-stress through something vaguely artistic, what’s more fun than my kid’s discarded Hello Kitty coloring book?

I can officially tell you what’s more fun…a CREEPY coloring book. Mister Sam Shearon’s Creepy Christmas is not only beautifully made and filled with not-so-jolly Christmas creatures from cultures around the world, it contains stories, legends, poems, and much more. Best of all, though, the illustrations are detailed and complete without containing superfluous swirls and designs. They’re just fun but dark illustrations that will delight anyone with the right sense of humor.

Check out the link to find your own copy for someone who’s good cheer leans a little more towards history and folktales than the Macy’s version of the North Pole!

REVIEW: The Untold Stories of Broadway Vol 3

broadway

FOUR STARS

I was very surprised by the print quality of this enormous book, so surprised, in fact, that I looked up the previous two versions online to see if perhaps I was holding a galley copy and not the final version. No, volumes one and two were very similar in their cover design, their page formatting, and other features. This book is so fun and comes written by someone with unparalleled expertise in the topic, but I wish there had been a lot more effort put into making it look like a professionally crafted book.

Having said that, there are some considerations as to why it might be such an uncharacteristically strange-looking book. First, a portion of the proceeds go to support the Broadway Green Alliance, a non-profit that works to ensure that NYC productions are as environmentally-friendly as possible. The more money the publisher spent on making this into a more industry-standard book, the less money there would be to support the organization.

But the other consideration is this: when you have as much access to insider knowledge of the theater scene as author Jennifer Ashley Tepper, it doesn’t matter what the finished product looks like, even if it isn’t all that polished. You would think any of the Big Five publishers would be clamoring to get their hands on the manuscripts that led to these three books, but then the resulting publication would be so outrageously expensive that only the stars who grace the pages could even afford it. At just around $20 each, these oversized volumes share snippet-like anecdotes of life inside the biggest name theaters, and featuring the antics and tales of the biggest name stars.

For too many theater lovers, even a Broadway matinee is out of the realm of possibility. They instead rely on insider views to get to know their favorite stars and the iconic performances that grace the stage. With over 300 pages of interviews, memories, inside jokes, pranks, and more, this is the gift to get the theaterphile in your life.

The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3 goes on sale November 15th.

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