Sunday, December 31, 2017

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The purpose of this site is to Review self-published and small-press published books. If a book is reviewed here, you can expect the quality and content to be sufficient for human consumption (at least ours, your mileage might vary), or know the reason why not. We will post clearly in our review the general quality, the amount of violence, language, sexual and spiritual content.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Dejado de lado - Left Out by Gabriela Arellano

Dejado de lado - Left Out


31176920

(ENGLISH) Kena's birthday is coming. The cub invites all his classmates to his party, except one: Bako. Kena's mom intervenes to have Bako invited as well.
At the end, Kena realizes that a single act of friendship can lead to a beautiful outcome.

(ESPAÑOL) El cumpleaños de Kena se aproxima. El cachorro invita a todos sus compañeros a su fiesta, excepto a uno: Bako. La mamá de Kena interviene para que Bako sea invitado también. Al final, Kena descubre que un sólo gesto de amistad puede conducir a bellos resultados.


My Take:
Dejado de Lado, or, Left Out, by Gabriela Arellano, is a delightful tale involving Kena the Hyena and his upcoming birthday. He's invited everybody who's anybody, but he refuses to invite one classmate: Bako. Kena's mom hatches a plan to make sure Bako gets invited. 



Content:
Well, this is a children's picture book, and is squeaky clean on every level. The main issue that is covered in this beautiful little book is the idea that excluding someone can be cruel, and one should consider the feelings of others. Also in the mix is the hope that when you reach out to the kid who doesn't quite seem to belong, a glorious friendship can develop, and a child invited into a circle has a better and happier future than the one who has to deal with everyone else's back.

The side-by-side dual language format, Espanol beside English, makes this book, like all the books in the Kena the Hyena series, an excellent language tool for both English and Spanish. 

Unfortunately it appears the book is currently not in print. Here's hoping it becomes available. It would make a good addition to most preschool and first-grade classrooms. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Gabriela Arellano(ENGLISH) I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Down there, I studied Majors in Literature and Law. In the United States I taught Spanish in a Montessori school grades 1-12. I'm also a prolific author of several blogs in English and Spanish.

I always wanted to be a writer, and I've written hundreds of unpublished poems and tales since age 8. But it took an additional uprooting experience to finally burst me into a real writer activity. As a mother of a bilingual child I was desperately digging into the major libraries looking for good quality reading material in English and Spanish. I was looking for books that had both languages in the same text. The experience was quite frustrating because of the small number of titles published and the deficiency in their artistic quality, or due to the extreme simplicity of their plots (presumably fit for children 5-year-old and younger, but not for my elementary student daughter). I shared my experience with other mothers of US origin, and found that many of them wanted to teach Spanish to their children, but lamented the lack of sufficient English/Spanish bilingual quality literature. Consequently, I decided to write the books for my child by myself and also put them in the market for those who feel are facing the same kind of literature vacuum.

(ESPAÑOL) Nací en Buenos Aires, Argentina y actualmente estoy radicada en Nevada, Estados Unidos. En Argentina. estudié en la Universidad de Buenos Aires las carreras de Letras y Abogacía. En los Estados Unidos enseñé español en una escuela Montessori para los niveles de primaria y secundaria. También soy una prolífera autora de varios blogs en español e inglés.

Siempre quise ser una escritora, y desde los 8 años he escrito cientos de cuentos y poemas que no han sido publicados. Ya a los 40 años de edad, la experiencia personal del desarraigo, viviendo a 5000 km de mi país natal, y el deseo de proveer a mi hija una educación bilingüe, finalmente me decidió a asumir más activamente la tarea de escritora. Viviendo en los Estados Unidos, y con pocos libros en Español para leer a mi hija, comencé a frecuentar regularmente las cadenas de librerías más grandes de los Estados Unidos buscando material de lectura en español e inglés en un mismo texto. La experiencia fue bastante frustrante debido al escaso número de títulos publicados y a la deficiencia en su calidad artística. Asimismo, comenté mi experiencia con otras madres de origen estadounidense y muchas de ellas me manifestaron su deseo de enseñar español a sus hijos pero se lamentaron de la carencia de suficiente literatura bilingüe español/ inglés de calidad. Así que decidí escribir por mí misma los libros bilingües a dos columnas para mi hija, y también ofrecerlos en el mercado para aquellos padres que como yo sienten que existe un vacío en el mercado de libros bilingües para niños en edad de escuela elemental.
Espero poder ayudar a los niños de otros padres a moverse al siguiente nivel de lectura y comprensión de narrativas en su segunda lengua.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: Soul Set Free (The Roman Soul #2) by Reagan Colbert

Soul Set Free (The Roman Soul #2)


31141891
"Marcus quickly descended the steps as the heavy door was shut and barred behind him. His plan was to rush back to his original post, praying the entire way that Justus had not discovered his absence.
He took two steps forward, and felt a firm hand on his shoulder. A rush of panic swept through him. With a desperate prayer on his lips, Marcus whipped around to face whoever it was, and in the darkness saw only two eyes and a glint of armor."

Two weeks after receiving forgiveness from the Man he had crucified, Marcus has committed his soul to the Son of God. But he knows that his time as a secret disciple is limited, and that he can only keep his soul hidden for so long.
Not even Justus knows of his conversion, but it soon becomes clear that Marcus can no longer remain a soldier. His decision leads him on yet another journey, this time fearing for his very life. Each turn takes him to places he never could have imagined, all on a quest to again see the disciples, and perhaps even Christ Himself.
Through the obstacles of his newfound faith, will Marcus' soul finally be set free?

My Take:
When Marcus, a Roman soldier, becomes a believer in Jesus, he knows the cost. Death. Once discovered, his only future would be disgrace and execution at the hands of those who shared his quarters. Roman soldiers were required to worship only the Roman gods. Yet, despite the fact that his were the hands that drove the nails that hung Jesus on a cross, this Jesus, risen from the dead before his very eyes, forgave him. The love pouring out from the Son of God had penetrated the hidden soul of the battle-hardened Roman centurion, and he would never be the same.

Marcus could not keep his secret for long from his best friend and fellow soldier, Justus. But Justus was loyal to Rome, a model soldier, and there was no doubt that he would turn Marcus over to be executed, despite their friendship.

Content:

Drug Content:
G - Very little drinking is depicted, and what is, is not to excess. 

Violence:
PG - A soldier is wounded, bleeding profusely.  

Language:
G - Squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
G - Arranged marriage is discussed briefly. Propriety is honored in travelling.   

Christian content:
This is a biblical retelling of the aftermath of the resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of a converted Roman centurion who witnessed the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God. It is liberally dosed with prayer, faith, poignant passages concerning salvation. The cost of following Jesus is discussed frankly, and the risks are accurately depicted, as well as the divine protection and provision of God. It is solidly Christian. 

Final analysis:
Reagan Colbert has done it again. The characters, their trials and struggles, are real, as is their faith and devotion. The antagonists, too, are three-dimensional. The setting is realistic, the pace is steady, and the action gripping. The stakes are high, and the message is abundantly clear. This novella is, as the first one, packed with action, adventure, and a solid Christian message. God loves us, and wants to set us free. Five Stars!


About the Author:
Reagan ColbertReagan Colbert is a fiction author with a driving passion to bring glory to the name of Christ. When she was fourteen years old, the Lord gave her the call to be a writer, and she has followed her calling with a passion ever since. 
In 2015 she finally started her author blog, www.fiction4hisglory.com, but could not have predicted where God would bring her. In just six months her blog was picked up by other Christian bloggers, and that was when the Lord decided (much to her amazement) to hand her a book. Through unbelievable obstacles, that book, "The Hidden Soul" was published on Amazon in April of 2016, two days after her nineteenth birthday.
Three months later, "The Hidden Soul" had gained a unanimous five-star rating, and she published the sequel, "Soul Set Free".
Her life's mission is summed up in the one verse that she always comes back to: "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men." ~ Colossians 3:23

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Land of the Two Rivers: A Novel of Shinar (The Children of Ararat #2) by Scott R. Rezer

Land of the Two Rivers: A Novel of Shinar(The Children of Ararat #2)

30799840One family survived a cataclysm...
Their descendants rebuilt the world...
Their names grew into myth and legend...


In the world born after the Flood, the old ways have begun to reawaken; knowledge of the one True God has dwindled to only a faithful few. Slowly, the prophecy of Noach begins to cast its long shadow across the lives of his childrens' children, affecting the lives of generations yet to come. But when a brilliant star appears in the heavens like a newborn sun, will it herald the fulfillment of their long-awaited hopes... or will it usher in the dawn of a new age of wickedness and rebellion?


My Take:
In the centuries following the world-wide cataclysm known as the Great Flood, patriarchs such as Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, rub shoulders with their fourth and fifth-generation descendants. As their offspring multiply and spread out, replenishing the earth, the old wickedness, thought dead and gone by the flood, begins to rear its head again, and whispers of the Nephilim, descendants of demons, return to haunt men's dreams. 

In this masterfully crafted epic novel concerning Arphaxad, descendant of Shem, and Cush, belief in the one true God Yahweh has once again dwindled to a scant remnant, while old beliefs from before the flood resurface strongly, with their pagan rituals, blood sacrifices, mystical powers and hedonistic sexual rites.

Follow Arphaxad as he struggles to have faith in his Kenaanite steward accused of murder, and Gomer, whose devotion to an outcast produces tragedy and death; travel with Cush, who learns of antediluvian powers while pursuing a son headlong into an appointment with destiny. 

Content:

Drug Content:
PG-13 - In one scene a pair of naked drunken lovers careen into Arphaxad. A town of drunken men turn very deadly. Wine is a common beverage, but is rarely depicted in excess.

Violence:
R - A man is tortured to death, a kidnapping turns sour and a character is nearly stabbed to death. The wound turns gangrenous. A man is beaten nearly to death, flies infest the wounds. A man is shot in the head with an arrow, the description is somewhat graphic. Some people are burned to death, their homes engulfed in flames. A man is shot in the throat with an arrow. 

Language:
G - Squeaky clean.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - As stated earlier some drunken naked lovers run by. There are several mentions of the priestesses and their sexual rites, though none graphic.   

Christian content:
Faith, redemption, the sanctity of human life, even salvation and the promise of a coming Redeemer, play heavily throughout this work. While false religions get almost equal time on stage, the spiritual wickedness and demonic influences behind them is abundantly clear. The darkness of hatred, murder, and race war is set in contrast to redemption, self-sacrifice, trust, hope, and love across any boundaries and against all odds. This is a faith-filled book and the hope of a Redeemer is clear. 

Final analysis:
This work was an amazingly immersive plunge into the past. Scenery was three dimensional, characters were well developed, the stakes were very high and the plot gripping. Faith played center stage, while God's protection and battle with darkness was depicted through plot rather than on-screen. While at times the pace seemed a bit slow, the story was involving and the characters real and the plot riveting. Five Stars!


About the Author:
Scott R. Rezer
Scott R. Rezer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1963. He met his wife and best friend while serving in the U.S. Air Force. They have two grown children and live in the Southwest. He is an indie published author of six historical fiction novels ranging from the Civil War to the Crusades to ancient history. Two of his books have garnered Editor's Choice selections by the Historical Novel Society (The Leper King and Shadow of the Mountain).






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: He Said, She Said: Marriage, Divorce & Restoration by Ernest Dave Bennerman, Roseline Roz Bennerman

He Said, She Said: Marriage, Divorce & Restoration

30659349
Marriage is a sacred union. 
Divorce stinks! 
Restoration happens when we allow God to make a NEW Marriage. 

In words that are profound, often humorous, but always biblical, Dave and Roz draw from over 2 decades of marriage, divorce, and re-marriage. They openly share their struggles through their marriage and divorce experiences to challenge soon to be and married couples to ask this question: 
“What is it like being married to me?” 
In ‘He Said, She Said,’ you will discover practical strategies and exercises for creating and sustaining a fulfilling marriage. Although the struggles and challenges are real in a marriage, they share sound principles that, if applied, will create an environment of peace, love, understanding and respect. 
Know that God wants your marriage to be incredible, to be represented as a Kingdom Marriage. But that can only happen when unselfish love is at the center of it all. 
Dave and Roz Bennerman are passionate about encouraging and strengthening marriages. They have mentored numerous couples. Now, they focus their efforts on creating fun and engaging marriage bootcamps and workshops to help keep the Sizzle Alive and Smoking. 


My Take:
This book is a chronicle of Roz and Dave Bennerman, who went through a rocky eight year marriage ending in a divorce. As Providence would have it, they both came to Christ individually years later, and remarried. They have enjoyed a solid, bible-based covenant marriage for eight years since then, and have devoted their lives to helping singles, divorcees, and couples either approaching or in the midst of marriage, to find hope and guidance from their experiences.

Filled with anecdotal wisdom, liberally soaked in scriptural references, and stuffed with good advice, this book is a clear warning to adults in all stages of life to consider carefully before putting on the rings. Advice on dealing with your past baggage, getting right with God, understanding unrealistic expectations, and the principals of regular, steady communication, being committed for the long haul, dealing with differences and enjoying them, sex and its place inside and not outside marriage, and the importance of God in the marriage, this short book is a must-read for anyone considering marriage.


Content:
Even though this is non-fiction, figured I'd better put a bit about the content in here. This book has no profanity, as one would expect, and the subject of sex is only obliquely referred to, though the importance of it in marriage is underlined, and supported by scripture.

Packed with nuggets of wisdom and solid advice, this is a quick read that all couples considering marriage would benefit from. If you are in marriage and considering divorce, there's help in here for you as well. Well written, biblically based, informative and helpful, Five Stars!


About the Authors:


An image posted by the author.Coach Dave captivates his audience from all walks of life, developing needed skills that will bring transformation to his listeners for generations to come through humor and visuals. He’s well-received and loved by his students (mentees) and colleagues. As a Certified Personal Life Coach, author and speaker, Dave focuses on transforming the lives of people through goal setting, life planning skills, and accountability measures. He grew up in Northern New Jersey, surrounded by violence and poverty, with a loving sister and a mother, who instilled hard work and perseverance into their lives. After finishing high school, he joined the United States Army and later met his wife, Roseline ‘Roz’ during his college years; they are blessed with one son, Terrell. Dave took a wrong turn in life and discovered problems, heartache, and disappointment do not discriminate. He lost everything that was dear to him and made a decision to seek God for healing and restoration.

Now, he empowers countless individuals in his surrounding community and shares his faith and love for God with many individuals from diverse cultures. He has also committed himself to empower, encourage, and bring hope to our youth who have made mistakes and who've found themselves detained within local juvenile detention centers. In 2012, he was ordained as an Evangelist, and he travels around the world encouraging people to live on PURPOSE.

Roz has teamed up with her husband, Dave, to encourage and empower marriages. They've found, through their own challenges, first being married for 8 years to each other, then 10 years of divorce, and now as they write this book, 8 years remarried, when each spouse puts the other first...No One is Left Out. After being asked to plan married couples' fun and engaging events, which they felt unqualified to do, they eventually realized that through these activities, marriages became more passionate, and everyone had lots of fun. Their passion is to encourage and empower marriages through fun and engaging workshops.
Along with her passion for seeing marriages strengthened and having fun, Roz has mentored numerous young adults through the Development School for Youth. She mentors married women, and she's an author, publisher, and fitness enthusiast, who's passionate about inspiring and helping women create and sustain a Fit Lifestyle. She has found, because women are natural nurturers, they put everyone else before themselves, causing them to put their fitness on the back-burner.

Now she and her husband, Coach Dave, have teamed up to structure fun and engaging marriage workshops and bootcamps that will connect couples on another level. The workshops and bootcamps are designed for interaction...they've moved away from the typical marriage conferences, where couples gather, sit, and listen. These bootcamps and workshops are for married couples to INTERACT and have FUN! Their marriage bootcamps and workshops are based on Biblical principles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Elimination (The Mind Breaker #1) by Marina Epley

Elimination (The Mind Breaker #1)

30839740For fans of The Hunger Games, Maze Runner and X-Men. Immerse yourself in a gritty YA dystopian adventure with telepathy, hypnosis and mind reading.

Eighteen-year-old Rex is trying to survive in a dangerous world where the government hunts down, imprisons and even kills those with psychic abilities. He’s a mind breaker, considered not only a deviation from the norm but the biggest threat to society.

Once he reveals his abilities for hypnosis, the deadly hunt begins…

Rex has to flee across the devastated countryside while an entire army of resistant soldiers searches for him. Worse yet, by going on the run, he’s endangering his one and only friend Kitty.

Rex soon realizes that together they make a vulnerable target. And the only way to save Kitty is to allow himself to be captured, thus diverting attention while his friend escapes. But nothing goes as planned, and his actions only serve to push Kitty into an even worse situation than a life sentence in prison. With his world falling apart, Rex must figure out how to fix his accumulating mistakes and regain their freedom before it’s too late.

What Rex doesn’t yet understand, is that he may soon play a major role in preventing all-out war between ordinary humans and mind breakers, a war which could lead to total extinction of the entire human race.

My Take:
Rex is an eighteen-year-old with a terrible secret. He is part of a subset of a post-apocalyptic population that have special mental abilities - hypnosis, telekinesis, mind-reading, and more. He's a mind-breaker, and that amounts to life in prison or worse, just because of who he is.

Lies permeate the media that society watches, tagging mind-breakers as nothing but deadly threats bent on raping, murdering or using their powers to take other advantage of the population at large. Their top-rated show involves watching mind-breakers being hunted down and exterminated by Elimination, a jack-booted black-ops group of specially trained commandos who gather mind-breakers and gather them into research facilities and death camps.

Rex tries to eke out an existence as a 'normal', but the lie he is living crashes around him as the bank he works at is robbed, and he has to use his powers of hypnosis in order to escape. Now, on the run for his life, he has to separate from his sister, Kitty, in order to save her, even if it means capture and death.

As society continues to pursue the annihilation of this enhanced race of beings, aided by the lying media and the merciless Elimination, there's going to be a reckoning - one that just might spell the end of everyone.



Content:

Drug Content:
PG-13 - Several characters do a significant amount of drinking or drugs to ease guilt or pain. Drugs are administered to control or subjugate.

Violence:
R+ - This is extremely bloody. Genocide is a good term. This dark, dystopian novel has torture, bullying, slaughter of innocents, torching of schools and hospitals. Threats and murders of loved ones for leverage or revenge. Street fighting and skull crushing abound. Noses and arms, legs and ribs are broken throughout for the joy of inflicting pain or dominance, for some of the psychotic villains.

Language:
PG - The D-word is used a bit, but nothing else.

Adult Content:
PG - There's not much, but there are some suggestions of rape and such. One of the bad guys intimates considering having his way with a girl who is not yet an adult.   

Christian content:
None. There's not much talk about an afterlife, and there's not any concept of hope beyond surviving the next 30 minutes or just escaping from one bad situation into another. There are some points in the book where characters consider the concept of good and evil, or bad and worse, or who is deserving of death more than someone else. Family and loved ones appear to be the main motivating force, and on the antagonist side, apparently there is no level too low to stoop, no line too bad to cross, in a sadistic pursuit of the destruction of a new race. There are a few characters who learn about forgiveness and reconciliation, and there are some that ardently argue for peace and coexistence. 

Final analysis:
Wow. Where to begin. There are some editing issues, and this book is far darker than my usual fare. As described above, there is a lot of sadism in between the covers of this novel, but the book is a fast-paced thriller that had me glued to it from the shocking and depressing start to the action-packed end. The world-building was stark and realistic. The main character spent far too much time soul searching and pondering his path, waffling in decisions until he focused on a destiny. The antagonists, and there were quite a few, were very dark and very bad. They seemed somewhat one-dimensional, unredeemable, and completely unlikeable.

I would have liked to have known more about the backstory of Wheeler and some of the evil villains like him, to get a better understanding of their motivation for hatred and sadism. A good 'bad' guy has reason and stakes or history that motivates him to be like he is.

The novel was realistic, if disturbing, gripping, a real page-turner. It sets up for a nice dystopian world war, and the world building was solid, but the character building and there were a few pacing issues that kept me from awarding the story the five stars that the plot deserved. Four Stars!

About the Author:
Marina EpleyI’m a former journalist turned full-time author who began writing at an early age. Growing up on science fiction, horror and action movies more than cartoons, where the stuff of my dreams (or nightmares) quickly evolved into the short stories I shared with classmates. Well, nothing much has really changed since, except nowadays I write for your enjoyment and reading pleasure.

I published my first YA dystopian trilogy The Mind Breaker in 2016, and I’m currently working on a new series. I mostly write science fiction with plenty of action and adventure, but appreciate any good stories with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

Visit my website https://www.epleymarina.com/

To hear about new books first, sign up for my mailing list http://eepurl.com/czyC4H 

Stay updated with my new releases at: 
https://twitter.com/MarinaEpley

Review: Lady Hornet: Genesis of a Superheroine (Metamorphosis Book 1) by Bruce Graw

Lady Hornet: Genesis of a Superheroine (Metamorphosis Book 1)

25385865Elizabeth Fontaine is a lonely, ordinary young woman in a world where superheroes struggle daily against the world's evil. To fill the empty void within her soul, she becomes a hero fangirl, following every supers event, subscribing to multiple fanzines, and never missing the daily superhero talk shows...until one day, fate grants her the opportunity to leave behind her boring, dreary life and become what she's always dreamed of...a superheroine! 

Elizabeth learns the hard way the meaning of the phrase “Caveat Emptor!”

My Take:
When Elizabeth Fontaine happens by an alley where one of her favorite superheros lies dying, her quick thinking saves his life. In gratitude, he gives her the opportunity of a lifetime - the chance to become a super herself. A closely guarded secret in the ranks of superheros is that you can 'buy yourself in' if you have enough money, and are lucky enough to be asked.

Elizabeth jumps at the chance, little realizing the radical life-altering changes her decision will make. As she and the many superheros she now rubs shoulders with face the most deadly enemy of all time, she also must deal with the loss of everything and everyone she used to know.


Content:

Drug Content:
PG - There is some mention of social drinking, and some characters have some serious drinking issues, though it's off-screen.

Violence:
PG-13 - There's a lot of violence, but it's on a level with TMNT, for the most part. There are a few scenes that made me push this to PG-13, including one where a person is burned into a skeleton and ash.

Language:
PG - The D-word is used fairly liberally throughout, but harder language doesn't make an appearance. Unless I missed it.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - As stated earlier some characters play pretty loose in the club scene, but it's mostly offscreen. The main character does in fact have some onscreen action but it's not really described in any detail. There is however a main plot point in this area, which, although hinted around multiple times, is never described graphically. I can't say more or it would be spoilers.  

Christian content:
If the church exists in this book it's pretty much a setting for a battle. Faith is not bashed or promoted, so from that perspective, it's not on the menu pro or con. Faith based topics, however, are certainly in this book, like self-sacrifice, sacrificing one's life for another, standing up for what is right, doing one's duty no matter the cost, personal redemption, and a liberal dose of forgiveness. One character whose life is ebbing away asks for prayer. 

Final analysis:
I love a good romp with superheroes through the skies, facing killer robots and dastardly villains. This book had it all - a solid plot, great characters, cool gadgets, some interesting world-building, and a fast pace. The stakes were high, the plot was gripping, a real page-turner! Five Stars!