New Book Reviews Blog Pages

Dancing Spiders - An Interactive Storybook App

dancing spiders, happy children, positive parenting, protecting children, sandra hugs, sensible, Smart kid, street savvy
Dancing Spiders is an interactive storybook app that seeks to enlighten children about molestation.

The app does an excellent job dealing with this sensitive issue. Magical creatures are used to teach the difficult issue in a way that is approachable to young children. There aren't any graphic scenes in the book, and I'd feel comfortable showing this to children.

The characters are interesting and fun to follow, so children won't have any problems relating to them. I particularly liked Mr O, a talking tree who can answer any question. The book's language is perfect for the age range of potential readers.

The illustrations are colorful and whimsical, and I saw a video of an interactive game built into the app. The game looked fun, and the animations were smooth.

In the fully developed app, children will have the opportunity to read the story themselves or have the app take them through the story.

This app is dependent on crowdfunding to be fully developed and educate children about this important issue. I encourage people wishing to support or learn more about the cause to go to the Dancing Spiders Indiegogo page.

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The Hakima's Tale: Revenge of the Blue Jinni by Dedra Stevenson

the hakima's tale, the revenge of the blue jinni, dedra stevenson
Dedra Stevenson's "The Hakima's Tale: The Revenge of the Blue Jinni" is a novel aimed at teens that truly stimulates the imagination. As someone who was not really familiar with the idea of Jinnis prior to reading, it was incredibly fun to explore the concept through this fictional story.

The main character, Phoenix, is an Arab-American girl who is thrust into the limelight because she is the chosen one to protect against attacks from Jinn.

Stevenson does a great job with the book's multicultural perspective, keeping this YA novel fun and engaging yet also informative. As a YA book, this would be a great read for teens, but I enjoyed this as an adult. This would be a great read for anyone who thinks they'd like a novel with elements of Middle Eastern folklore.

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A Star Called Lucky by Bapsy Jain

a star called lucky, bapsy jain, Female Protagonist, Women’s Adventure, Political Thriller, Suspense Mystery
“A Star Called Lucky” by Bapsy Jain is the thrilling sequel to the international bestseller “Lucky Everyday” that takes readers on a global trek with Lucky Boyle, the novel’s strong female protagonist.

At the outset of the story, Lucky is a yoga instructor at the New York State Department of Corrections who is passionate about rehabilitating felons and saving taxpayer dollars, as she also has a background in accounting and entrepreneurship. As a single mom to son Sean, she is constantly busy, but remains grounded and spirited about life until her world turns upside down.

In a sudden turn of events, Lucky falls into a life of corporate politics to solve a mystery of how three individuals are connected. She must connect the dots among a mysterious Buddhist monk, a computer savant, and an elusive Tibetan doctor.

Bapsy Jain has created a beautiful novel with relatable and flawed characters, a thoughtfully-designed plot that keeps you on your toes, and an ingenious blend of topics, from yoga to computer science and genetics.

"A Star Called Lucky" will delight readers with Jain's unique sense of imagination and adventuresome plot, as well as the exciting re-entry into Lucky Boyle's life.

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MASE WARRIOR by Bryce Bentley Summers

mase warrior, amen to rot, bryce bentley summers, young adult, dark fantasy
The fourth book in the AMEN TO ROT series, "Mase Warrior" follows Michael, Ace, and Siri as they learn more about the evils in their post-apocalyptic world, including the secrets of their protector, Amen.

The author, Bryce Bentley Summers, does an excellent job of expanding the series' world in this book, sharing more about Orx's identiy and the future of earth. There are lots of exciting action scenes to keep the reader interested, and the plot is paced so it has 'down time' to let the characters think and full-force action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

In addition to its dark fantasy/YA elements, this is a coming of age story that is multicultural sensitive, which adds another layer to the novel. Overall, a great read if you like dark fantasy/YA novels. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!

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Beta Planet: Rise by Dayton Grey

beta planet rise, dayton grey, scifi, teen, novel, sci fi
"Beta Planet: Rise," by Dayton Grey, is a sci-fi novel set in a post-apocalyptic future, aimed at teens.

The protagonist, 15yo Geon, wakes up from a coma in a world that is strictly controlled and filled with technology. At first, the technology is fascinating, including the futuristic sport JetSurf. But the controlling organization known as CARE attracts Geon's attention.

With his friends, he begins to investigate, discovering dark secrets about the future. Grey does an excellent job of introducing this world to the reader, without overwhelming them. The plot is paced well, and I felt that Grey was able to relay Geon's sense of discovery and amazement perfectly to the reader.

This book is an engaging read for anyone who likes sci-fi novels that are approachable and fun.

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Take the Money by Lucia Sinn

take the money, lucia sinn, romantic suspense, romance, suspense, novel, costa rica
Lucia Sinn's "Take the Money" is a romantic suspense about a woman who mysteriously gets a large sum of money from her dying boss.

The protagonist, Julie Lawson, takes the money and flees to Costa Rica, where, instead of finding safety like she expected, she finds a killer is chasing her. Sinn does a wonderful job of juggling the different elements of the plot without confusing the reader.

Despite the fast pace of the plot, Sinn really develops Julie, so the reader gets invested in her. The secondary characters, from Dr. Enrique Rojas to Nellie Compton, do  a great job of flavoring the story.

If you like novels with action and romance and an exotic setting, you'll enjoy this book!

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The Time Table by N.J. Rayner

n.j. rayner, the time table, the stobes trilogy, novel, london
"The Time Table," the first book in the Stobes Trilogy, is an imaginative story about the strange creatures that inhabit the abandoned areas of the London underground.

When the creatures discover a mysterious, powerful stone table, a struggle ensues for control. The creatures are fun and have great names, my favorite being Fligboge.

The author, N.J. Rayner, does an excellent job of pacing the plot, revealing just the right amount of info at the right time. The writing really immerses you in this underground world with strange creatures.

One of Rayner's strengths is in his ability to write from different perspectives. You get to read from the perspective of a number of characters above and underground, giving you the full picture of the situation.

This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys imaginative, whimsical stories with exciting characters.

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The Missing Alchemist by Caldric Blackwell

easy read fantasy, middle grade book, the missing alchemist, middle grade novel, caldric, caldric blackwell, alchemy kid's book
The Missing Alchemist (book 1 of the Young Alchemist series) is a easy read fantasy novel that young readers who enjoy adventure are sure to love. The story follows Craig Pike, an alchemy student who embarks on a journey to rescue his kidnapped teacher, Cornelius. Along the way, Craig is joined by Audrey, an archer from a desert metropolis. This is the third release from children's book author Caldric Blackwell.

The story is really, at its heart, an adventure. Craig and Audrey battle a giant, fight off blood-thirsty bats, and ultimately come face to face with a powerful evil alchemist. The plot is relatively straightforward, with the characters’ primary goal being to rescue Cornelius. They go on a few detours along the way, but the trajectory of the plot is pretty cut and dry.

I think the book’s greatest strength is the “fun factor.” It’s two kids on an adventure, and the writing is very light-spirited. The fighting scenes aren’t very realistic (no pain and agony), but this is because The Missing Alchemist is aimed at pre-teens/young teens. If you’re an adult looking for a new realistic fantasy novel, this certainly isn’t a book for you, but if you’re looking for a fun adventure book aimed at a younger audience, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.

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The Conversation: Your Guide to Transcendence by Jeff Cannon

the conversation, jeff cannon, lucid dreaming, monk, ithaca
“The Conversation: Your Guide to Transcendence,” by Jeff Cannon, shares the inspirational story of a Modern American Monk Jeff Cannon  while staying on the Greek Island of Ithaca. The book highlights the benefits of using lucid dreaming to find answers about human life. Cannon’s lucid dreaming resulted in many answers, and he shares these insights with the reader.

I found all of the dreams documented to be interesting, insightful, and inspirational. For instance, one of the dreams deals with the idea that the world is a result of energy we’ve sent out. Other topics covered include singularity and consciousness. The idea of lucid dreaming was foreign to me prior to reading the book, but I now have grasp on its value. Reading the book has encouraged me to approach problems from different perspectives and put more value to dreams. A recommended read!

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It's in Her Blood by S.S. Roswell

it's in her blood, s.s. roswell, thriller, suspense, novel
“It’s in Her Blood,” by S.S. Roswell, is a suspense novel with a unique plot that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish.

The story follows the protagonist, Gail, as she embarks on a search for her kidnapped husband. She is accompanied by her friend Mike, and together they discover that Gail's past is different than it seems, making the search for Gail's husband that much more complicated.

Roswell does an excellent job pacing the plot, keeping the reader interested. The characters were developed well, and the reader will genuinely feel invested in Gail a few chapters in. I always try to guess what happens next when reading, but this book has so many twists and turns it's impossible to know what happens next. A recommended read for any suspense/thriller fans.

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Dark Hunger by Kevin Kneupper

Kevin Kneupper's "Dark Hunger" (book 2 in the Demon Hunter series) is a thriller short story with elements of horror.

"Dark Hunger" follows demon hunter Cade Crowley. A man with some vices, including the drink, he's hired hesitantly by the Vatican after they realize they need to go to outside sources to deal with their demon problem.

Cade's ability to see demons and spirits gives him an edge in the fight against demons, although demon hunting is no cakewalk.

The plot really kicks into gear when other religions move into the demon-fighting business, and Cade's own demons rise to the surface.

"Dark Hunger" is a must-read if you like suspense/thriller stories as well as supernatural demons/spirits.

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The Staff of Tzaddi by T.N. Newborn

"The Staff of Tzaddi," by T.N. Newborn, is a fresh epic fantasy novel that’ll grip you from the beginning and not let you go until you reach the end.

 The story follows two unlikely allies, Prince Teiwaz Zayin and Sowelu Kano, who embark on a quest to keep an unimaginable power out of the wrong hands. Newborn does an excellent job with world-building in “The Staff of Tzaddi.” It’s fresh, in-depth, yet approachable.

The plot is paced perfectly, with just the right amount of conflict and action to keep you engaged from the start. Although this is an epic fantasy novel, some aspects of the plot (e.g. not wanting who your family wants you to marry) are easy to relate to for some readers. The characters are interesting (my favorite is Sowelu), and you’ll connect with them quickly.

This is a must-read for any epic fantasy fans.

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The Rainbow Bridge by Brent Hunter

the rainbow bridge, brent n. hunter, inner peace, world peace, optimism, unity, harmony, peace
Brent Hunter's "The Rainbow Bridge: Bridge to Inner Peace and to World Peace" is a thoughtful book that shows readers how to build and cross the rainbow bridge, out of the current world full of poverty and violence to the other side where love, peace, cooperation, unity, and harmony abound. It also tells us why it is so important to abandon an egocentric mentality for the higher ground of compassion, service, and love for others because "we are all one," we are infinite beings in an "infinite cosmos." Everything is interconnected.

"The Rainbow Bridge" discusses the common ground across wisdom traditions using sixty universal principles that are boiled down to their most practical forms and applications. Hunter also provides pertinent examples for our modern day culture, as well as quotes that you will cherish and want to reflect upon.

Even though the notion of the rainbow bridge is still in the process of becoming mainstream, Hunter clearly expresses the salience of the rainbow bridge to our time and place with his 14-point roadmap to world peace. Some key goals include: the elimination of nuclear weapons and terrorism, the formation of a global commons and global operating system, and the encouragement of more global dialogue in various shapes and forms. However, before we step outside ourselves to fight against war and poverty, we must come to know ourselves and realize the power of introspection, visualization, meditation, and prayer, as well as the power of kindness - treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves (The Golden Rule).

The author's work in this 4th edition is commendable in his content, style, and delivery. The book reads very well, and the universal principles are user-friendly, straightforward and thought-provoking.

This is a book to truly cherish because it is a book about finding one's inner peace and purpose so that we can all work together towards world peace, crossing the rainbow bridge together when our time comes.

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The Run by E.J. Summers

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E.J. Summers' "The Run" is an engaging YA novel about the homecoming of 23-year-old Kristina Schultz and the drama that ensues when five years of secrets and emotions are brought to the surface.

Kristina comes home (after five years of being away from her family), revisits her old diary, and road trips with her cousin, Leila, back to Mystic Lake where they spent their summers at camp as teens. It was here that Kristina fell in love with "Him" amidst the trees and against the backdrop of the calm lake, but after five years away, she's not sure if she can face him and tell him why she left...   

In addition to this central dilemma, Kristina faces issues with her critical mom, her brother, Andy, and his illness, with the sudden passing of her close Aunt Cecelia, with the parenting and relationship choices of Audrey, and with the wife and brother-in-law of the man she loved but waited too long to tell. 

Summers will have you engrossed in this story just as I was, from the interesting characters and plot twists, to the messages that are portrayed through Kristina's journey toward happiness. Key messages include: non-judgement, not to overanalyze things, paying attention to what others needs are, finding happiness, and overcoming things that are outside our control by realizing the power in our choices.

If you like YA novels you'll love this wonderful story about a woman learning that it is perfectly all right to make mistakes.

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The White Amah by Ann Massey


I'm a big fan of Asian fiction, so naturally I had high expectations when I bought "The White Amah." My expectations were far exceeded! The book contains the stories of several characters, over a long stretch of time, that are interlinked. Crystal is teenager who drops out of school to join a group of female performers, the White Diamonds, who are touring South-East Asia. She becomes a star, and is alienated by the other females in the group. When the group runs into trouble, Crystal frees herself from her past and clings to a performer in an upcoming rock band. The two become a couple, and Crystal launches the band into wild success as the lead singer. A series of complicated circumstances lead to Crystal becoming pregnant and giving up her baby, Mei-Li. The next section of the book talks about the life of Rubiah, who is a helper of a wealthy family that adopts Mei-Li. Rubiah is intent on taking the place of the husband’s wife, and repeatedly sleeps with the husband. Disaster strikes when her sin is discovered, and she is left with the baby. Rubiah is too selfish to keep the child, and thinks only of ways to have fun and meet wealthy men who can take care of her. She leaves the child with her parents, and Mei-Li’s story starts when she is about to marry and older man that she doesn’t love.
Every single story is unique and filled with culture and traditions that are often underplayed in Western culture. The characters are multi-dimensional, and the reader is left with a sense that they are more than just typical stock characters used to help execute the plot. The author incites emotions from the reader regarding the characters’ lives and actions, whether those emotions are disgust, sympathy, anger, or something else. The transitions from character to character are intriguing, inciting in the reader an eagerness to see what the next turn of events will be and what will happen to each of the characters. I appreciated how all of the characters were somehow connected to each other. It gives the reader a sense of importance in finishing the story, because the book involves so many different characters’ lives. While there is a plethora of action in the book, including rape, love, sex, lust, cheating, and violence in the book, the events are believable and realistic. The story unfolds easily and seamlessly, and the author has very readable writing style.

If you enjoy Asian fiction, you'll love "The White Amah."

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