Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dead Yet Alive?!

How many of us are just going through the motions in our daily lives? Maybe you don't feel enthusiastic about your chosen area of work. Maybe you have gotten laid off and don't know what to do next? Maybe your fiancee just gets up one morning and says she leaving you for someone else?

That feeling of malaise has hit you like a huge set of bricks and instead of crying out to God, you confide in your close friend and he /she talks your business all about the work office.

In this scenario, you might feel dead emotionally, but you know that you are alive because your heart is still beating and you other vital organs are functioning somewhat.

Well, imagine if you were the main character in this book entitled Burn The Dead. This book written by author Steven Jenkins chronicles the life of Robert who burns dead people for a living. He opens a body bag one morning and finds his wife in the bag! He must try to get back to his neighbourhood in Crandale which now resembles a scene from Walking Dead. Persons infected with this unusual disease feeds on living healthy persons.

Here is my review of Burn the Dead which I completed on 22 July 2014.  I gave it 4 stars.

Burn the Dead is a fast paced suspense novel that revolves around Robert, a regular guy who works for a company responsible for an incinerator.  Robert burns dead people for a living.  On a daily basis, he burns people infected with the Necro-Morbus disease which turns humans into zombies.  He lives in Crandale in the United Kingdom with his wife Anna and his son Sammy.Unfortunately, Robert lets his curiosity get the better of him and he starts peeping at the corpses in the body bags.  This day in particular, he actually views his wife Anna in a body bag!  His emotional turmoil begins and he is agitated and extremely anxious to find Sammy  and thereby protect him from the infected humans or "Necs".  Author Jenkins relates Robert's arduous task of searching for Sammy and his many narrow escapes from death.

Burn the Dead is a gripping tale- both emotionally and figuratively.  From the get-go, the reader becomes enthralled in the plot.  I read the story and I did not want to put down the book!  The language is colloquial and interspersed with a few expletives.  This is understandable, especially in the precarious circumstances that the main character finds himself.  I love the fact that , against all odds, author Jenkins displays the tenacity of the main character.  This characteristic is truly an admirable one.  I appreciate the fact that author Jenkins chose to express his story from the main character's perspective.  This is a good tactic because as a reader you become fully immersed in the storyline.  I recommend this book to all fans of suspense novels.

Reviewed by by Valerie Rouse for Readers Favorite

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Monday, 5 October 2015

100 Reviews!!

Yeah! Today I am celebrating the fact that I have written 100 reviews!

I am thankful to God for giving me the strength, ability and patience to achieve this milestone.  I am also thankful for family and friends who have encouraged me on my book review journey.

I distinctly remember when I first started to write these book reviews back in April 2013. I had approached my writing as just a hobby at the time. I only started to take it seriously a year later.
Kudos also go to the staff at Readers Favorite for putting up with me!

So, I have achieved this feat before Xmas. Ironically, the next book I reviewed is entitled Done By Christmas.

Kobo Inc.This post is therefore celebrating my achievement   as well as publicizing my review of this Christian book by Randall Jarmon.  I gave it 4 stars. It is filled with action and is really a good read. Read my analysis below:-

Done by Christmas is a delightful story based on an acclaimed criminal Victor Taggert and his personal vendetta against Abigail West.  Victor had one of his operations intercepted by Abigail’s business known as Abigail West Security Services.  As a result, Victor was convicted and sentenced to prison. Since then, Victor vowed to kill Abigail because she was bad for his “bad” business and his incarceration.   Author Randall Jarmon also revealed the inner workings of Abigail West Security Services as well as the interpersonal relationships among its employees.  Integral to the plot is the introduction of Logan Blake to the security firm.  This bright intern becomes an important ally for the firm especially in terms of protecting Abigail and her team members form Victor’s numerous attacks.  The budding relationship between Logan the “Geek Boy” and Amanda, Abigail’s daughter is an added bonus. 

Done by Christmas is a fast paced tale filled with suspense at every turn.  The story begins showcasing a speedy chase between Victor Taggert and the police which the author deftly uses to reveal the intellectual precision of Victor's mind. The entire plot was developed exceptionally well with unexpected twists that truly take you by surprise.  The use of contrast and the element of surprise is very effective and gripping, which really draws the reader in and makes them engrossed in the story.  I recommend this book to all readers who love a suspense novel.

Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Readers Favorite
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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Did You Sow a Kind Seed Today?

When was the last time that you did a kind deed
for someone? Did you feel good knowing that you helped to brighten that person's day?

Contemporary preachers would summarize this action as sowing kind seeds. Who knows what might happen as a result of your benevolence today?

This feature was inherent in the story entitled A Call To Love written by author Rebecca Sundberg. It is based
on the main character Maddy who is
a devout Christian. Regularly, she
Timexextended genuine compassion
towards others.

I completed this review on 17 June 2014.
This is what Ms. Sundberg had to say about my review:-
"a very well written review that was positive and clearly interpreted the message I was trying to portray. I liked that the reviewer was able to relate it to their own experience as well."

Here is my synopsis of A Call To Love:-

A Call to Love is a refreshing story surrounding Maddy, a devout Christian who was in love with God and sought to do his bidding.  Maddy’s overall influence in the town of Hendersly was phenomenal.  Maddy’s Christian outreach extended to anyone God lay upon her heart.  This concept of sowing the proverbial seed even surprised Maddy herself!  For example, Maddy had befriended Lori and felt that she should purchase a dryer for her to assist with the laundry.  After doing so, Lori’s son Derek unexpectedly and deliberately broke one of Maddy’s windows with a rock. Maddy saw the act being carried out that night and she did not fret or tell his mother.  She simply baked a casserole and took it for the family.  Derek eventually apologized and offered to mow her lawn for the entire summer. Years later, as a young man, Derek visited Maddy and thanked her for her intervention in his life.  He had opted to become a pastor.  He wanted to give of himself like Maddy.  Maddy’s daughter Dani also felt this outpouring of love over the years and vowed to continue Maddy’s work in her own life.  According to Ms. Sundberg, Dani recognized that this way of life was not easy for her mum.

A Call to Love is a novel that makes you question your own life.  You might ask yourself, what am I doing to give back to society like Maddy?  How am I showing God’s love to my neighbors or friends? I also appreciate the plot of the novel.  Ms. Sundberg traces Dani’s childhood years through to young adulthood. All of the interpersonal relationships that Maddy formed bore fruit later in the plot.  This is evident especially at Dani’s bridal shower and at Maddy’s funeral.  A Call to Love is very moving and thought provoking.  It reminds me of my father’s role as a school teacher.  To date, many years after his death, I am experiencing an outpouring of goodwill extended to my son as a result of my father’s kindness to one of his co-workers.  I can therefore thoroughly relate to this theme of sowing seeds of kindness.  The language of the book is informal and it is easy to follow the storyline.  Ms. Sundberg has done a great job in developing the characters of her book.  I love the way in which she shaped Maddy’s selfless persona.  Maddy seems so real!  She is a person who has really overcome her personal trials and we as readers can persevere in life even when things seem to be difficult.  I strongly recommend this inspiring book to all readers.

Reviewed for Readers Favorite

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Science Rocks!

To most persons, science seems to be an abstract subject. However, most of us are consumers therefore the technology behind scientific discoveries assist us in our daily lives. For example, when we sit down to eat our cornflakes for breakfast, we don't think about the special conditions that were responsible for growing the actual corn plants to maturity.

 In addition, when we drop that bowl in the sink and rush off to work, we don't have time to consider that it takes approximately 60 to 70 days for smaller varieties of the corn plant to become fully ripe.

My next book review was based on a scientific facility. Author Urno Barthel's novel entitled Death by Probability is an intriguing murder mystery.  Mr. Barthel is an actual physicist who is now a writer. I wrote this review on 15 June 2014.

He had this to say about my review:-"the reviewer writes a thoughtful and thorough review. Overall this reviewer does an excellent job." Read my analysis below.                                                                                                                
Reviewed by  for Readers' Favorite

Death by Probability is a suspense novel surrounding the death of Willard, a scientist at the HAL facility. The main character, Evan Olsson, is thrown into the deep end when he tries to solve this murder mystery. Evan was being trained by Willard for about a month and, before his death, Willard sent Evan an encrypted video message informing him of the work he wanted Evan to continue for him. Willard had apparently stumbled upon some evidence leading to an impending dangerous coup or disaster. He wanted Evan to dig further so as to expose the perpetrators. The intrigue is set in motion when Evan seeks to trim his list of likely suspects. Almost all of the science lab employees were eligible. The process of elimination was very tedious. Evan deliberated as to the motives and interpersonal work relationships of each co-worker to solve this murder. Author Urno Barthel also reveals the development of Evan’s non-existent love life to one of passionate togetherness with Lissa, the sister of one of Evan’s work mates.

Death by Probability is a well developed book which is very intriguing. The pace is a bit slow at first, but as the action surrounding Willard’s death steps up, the plot becomes more enthralling. I love the way in which Mr. Barthel switches between Evan’s work life and love life throughout the novel. This makes Evan seem more realistic and it also gives you the impression that human interaction is vital to our social existence as humans. In contrast to Evan’s consistent dialogues with his personal computer, Al, it is gratifying to see Evan have an emotionally satisfying personal relationship at last. This aspect of man vs machine has far-reaching implications. According to Mr. Barthel’s story, the development of computer technology is both good and bad. It can easily replace the need for human interaction as well as create intentional disasters akin to the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. Death by Probability is an interesting read concerning technological advancement. I recommend it to all readers looking for a suspenseful high.   

I take this opportunity to big up all scientists throughout the world who strive to make our world a better place!            
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Unexpected Union

Can anyone be a mother? The answer to that is a resounding "yes".  However, the critical question that should be asked is "what kind of mother will you be?"

Will you stay up at night to assist your daughter with her studies for a major exam or will you go partying at the latest nightclub trying to recapture your youth?

Will you listen to your step children when they confide in you that they are scared of your new boyfriend or will you put them on ignore and do what you feel like because you are in charge?

In the book entitled Miss Carrie, a little boy called Ben met Miss Carrie who later adopted him as her own son.  This book written by author Judson Hout emphasizes the fact that all good parents are not necessarily biological parents. Possessing a caring heart is an important criteria for this important role.

I wrote this review on 12 June 2014.  Keep reading to see my analysis.

Miss Carrie is a delightful tale which chronicles the early childhood years of Ben Williams. Ben gets involved in the usual childhood pranks with his buddies. After succumbing to a dare with his friends, he encounters Carrie Stephens who is known to be an “old witch.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Miss Carrie, as she is affectionately called, befriends Ben and she becomes an important fixture in his life. He realizes that he can confide in Miss Carrie and he visits her every day. She was a pillar of strength for Ben, especially when his father died after going to war and when his grandmother passed away. Author Judson Hout also reveals the growing friendship between Ben and his schoolmate Amy and their eventual marriage. Ben goes on to become a responsible citizen who supports his family and never forgets his roots.

Miss Carrie is a very intriguing story. I loved the aura of suspense involved when Ben is  so consumed with fear in the beginning when he met Carrie. This is very realistic because at times we might hear a rumour about someone, but in essence we should walk a mile in his or her shoes before we cast judgment. Mr. Hout has done a great job developing his characters, especially the adorable Lounicey and her husband Mashal. They treat Ben as their own child. I loved the caring way in which Miss Carrie pulled out all the stops to adopt Ben after he was forced into the children’s home. Mr. Hout smartly paved the way for the twist at the end. Miss Carrie is a refreshing tale detailing Ben’s passage to adulthood. I recommend it to all readers.

What kind of mother will you be?
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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Missing Pieces?

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Do you feel depressed occasionally? Do you compare yourself to your co-worker and wish that you were smart like him with wavy hair?

At times, we all have been plagued with these feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. According to author Arabah Joy, her solution is to place trust in God.

This christian book is formatted like a daily journal.  It provides practical solutions to assist us in our daily lives for example thinking positively.

I wrote this review on 26 May 2014.  I gave it 5 stars!

Here is my review of her inspirational book:-

Reviewed by  for Readers' Favorite

Complete is a Christian focused journal dedicated to all persons seeking to live an abundant life. Author Arabah Joy engages her readers with a practical insight into the most effective ways to change our thought patterns, self-defeating behavior and negative self-talk. In her book, Ms. Joy explains that God has provided us with the tools that we need to combat the daily struggles of life. We need to believe and trust in God and know that His grace is sufficient for us to be victorious. She goes on to say that as humans, we need to get up and do what we have to do instead of just planning. We must take action! Another important piece of advice is that we need to focus on one goal at a time so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed. 

Costume DiscountersComplete is a very practical handbook for everyday living. I love the format where you can focus on one chapter each day. The exercises are very inspiring, especially the one relating to visualization. At times, I have felt overwhelmed with errands and household chores. In my opinion, this piece of advice is like a gold nugget. I appreciate the chapter about abolishing fear. The inclusion about the study by Dr. Caroline Leaf is very relevant and insightful. It ties in beautifully with the biblical proverb, “as a man thinks within himself, so is he”. According to Ms. Joy, having a healthy thought pattern is imperative in order to succeed in life. This will surely assist in overcoming negative behavior like procrastination and anxiety. I recommend this inspiring book to all readers so that they can become pros in life.

Dotti NZ

Friday, 17 July 2015

Dangerous Frontier

The realm of space has been getting lots of attention these days. NASA recently released the first colour images of the planet Pluto which was first discovered in 1930.

This intriguing subject matter has also been a popular stomping ground for authors as well. Connor Stone: Space Detective was written by author P.J. Lawton.  It practically describes a galactic world specifically Grega where a space detective, Connor solves various crimes.

It really makes you wonder if it would be possible for us to travel to these outer planets someday.

I completed this review on 23 May 2014. Here is my review:-

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Connor Stone: Space Detective is a fast paced story involving a dedicated detective who lives in outer space on a planet called Grega. Connor Stone was an Enforcement Officer in this galactic realm. Unfortunately, as a result of an injury during an assignment, Connor became a private detective. The story begins with Connor being interviewed by an avid news reporter who is very much interested in hearing Connor’s life stories as a private eye. Connor encountered a myriad of interesting clients and bad guys. Author P.J. Lawton also gives you a glimpse into Connor’s private life. He reveals that Connor still maintained an amicable relationship with his ex-wife, Sandy, and his daughter, Sissy. Connor was even forced to visit New Axon where Sandy and Sissy lived to rescue Sissy from the grip of a ruthless cartel leader. Connor fights criminals with the assistance of his old friend Stan, who is still employed as an Enforcement Officer. 

Mr. Lawton has done an excellent job portraying the characters in this book. I loved the interplay between Connor and the crooked criminals. At times I don’t even remember that most of the bodyguards and bouncers are droids! The intriguing, action packed story drew me in completely. The storyline is very realistic and exciting. It reminds me of a cowboy and Indian story where the cowboy reigns supreme at the end. In this scenario, the cowboy is Connor. The language is informal and anyone can follow the plot quite easily.  I love the little twist at the end. This tactic is a very smart one to utilize. Connor Stone: Space Detective is, in fact, a refreshing intergalactic book. I recommend it to all readers who need to escape to a different frontier of fun.

Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Readers' Favorite

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

You Are Going Where?

Most parents would tell you that they are really not comfortable with the idea that their teenagers are dating. Yes, as adults we passed through that phase but when it comes to our own children, its a different ballgame.

Parents might start to instill new rules and regulations for their teens.  For example, if you were in favour of them coming home at 9.30 pm, you might be tempted to tell them "get home by 8!" once you realize that they are dating.

Author Jeremy Davis wrote the book Life Lessons For My Brothas: Dating for teenagers and parents alike.  It is targeted for males, however girls can also benefit from the advice Mr. Davis offers.

I wrote this review on 10 April 2014.  Read my review below:-
                 Jacqui E
Life Lessons for my Brothas: Dating by Jeremy Davis is a practical book advising the average male teenager about dating. Mr. Davis gives a synopsis of his own school experiences. He relates how he was obsessed with a girl by the name of Sarah as a youngster. He used to have numerous daydreams about her. He reveals how his fantasies about a first kiss with Sarah were squashed abruptly. This occurred out of the blue when another female acquaintance, Samantha, just pulled him to her and placed a kiss on his lips. His romantic hopes surrounding his ideal first kiss were dashed. Mr. Davis also gives some interesting tips about ways to boost your self esteem. He even stressed the importance of being a confident person. This would assist most teenagers in terms of approaching females.

Life Lessons for my Brothas: Dating is a simple book designed to instill basic tips about dating. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Davis has included a journal, worksheets, and personal questions for his readers. This encourages interaction and introspection. The tone of the book is down to earth and personal. Mr. Davis is speaking as though he is communicating with his own son or relatives. The language is simple and colloquial and the reader can easily understand what is being said. I like the section on confidence. This value is very important in everyday life. Mr. Davis explains that being confident helps in situations where you might be rejected as a suitor. You would not feel like a loser in life if a girl does not care for your attention. I recommend this short, educational book that gives insight into the dating game.
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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Wishing On a Whale

Most of us dream or wish for a position in life, a material object or to achieve a goal.  You might wish that the boss give you a raise.  Or you might be exhausted from work and on your way home, see one of the cruise ships docked in port and dream of sailing off into the sunset on that ship!

The main characters Maya and Filippo in the book Maya & Filippo Look for Whales took a cruise ship to Alaska.  Author Alinka Rutkowska related that this brother and sister wanted to see whales on their trip.This children's book explores the discoveries that these children made on this exciting trip.

I did the review of this book on 7 April 2014.  I gave it 5 stars. Here is my review:-

Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Readers' Favorite

Maya & Filippo Look for Whales is a delightful storybook for children.  It is colorfully illustrated and it educates persons about Alaska.  This travel log involves Maya and Filippo who are brother and sister.  They take a cruise on a cruise ship called the “Fun Princess”.  This ship docks at Ketchikan in Alaska.  They are both wondering what kind of fish they would love to see on their tour.  Both of them really wanted to see a whale!  They got more than they bargained for.  They were fortunate to see totem poles in a village called Saxman Native Village.  Filippo was very excited when he saw the totem poles but Maya was not enthused.  She only wanted to see a whale.  Whilst on the tour, the tour guide explained the story of the Salmon Chief.  It involved a fisherman who used his imagination to pretend that he was catching a lot of fish. The reality was the opposite for him at that time.  Eventually, the fisherman was successful and caught a lot of fish. According to Miss Rutkowska, Maya then used her imagination to pretend that she was seeing a whale.  Eventually, Maya and Filippo went on an excursion to watch whales in Snow Passage.

Maya & Filippo Look for Whales is a positive children’s book.  It relates the travel experiences of the two main characters thereby enticing readers to consider travelling to Alaska in the future.  I love the colorful illustrations.  It is evident that Miss Rutkowska loves to travel as well because everyone in the story is smiling.  This attention to detail actually makes the book rather appealing to all readers.  The theme is a simple one based on the joys of travel as a family affair.  There is a moral embedded in the story.  In essence, the pages reveal that if you maintain a positive outlook in life, your dreams may actually come true.  According to Miss Rutkowska, Maya had a so called “aha” moment and copied the actions of the fisherman that she heard about in the totem pole fable. This speaks volumes from a psychological standpoint because in these current harsh economic times, it is imperative to stay focused and maintain a positive outlook in life. I appreciate the fact that this simple children’s book contains this important value system for all readers to adopt in their daily lives.  I highly recommend this book to all readers especially those with small children who enjoy reading or listening to stories.

What are you wishing for today?