Book Review: A Mother’s Tale & Other Stories by Khanh Ha


A Mother’s Tale is a tale of salvaging one’s soul from received and inherited war-related trauma. Within the titular beautiful story of a mother’s love for her son is the cruelty and senselessness of the Vietnam War, the poignant human connection, and a haunting narrative  whose setting and atmosphere appear at times otherworldly through their landscape and inhabitants. Captured in the vivid descriptions of Vietnam’s country and culture are a host of characters, tortured and maimed and generous and still empathetic despite many obstacles, including a culture wrecked by losses. Somewhere in this chaos readers will find a tender link between the present-day survivors and those already gone. Rich and yet buoyant with a vision-like quality, this collection shares a common theme of love and loneliness, longing and compassion, where beauty is discovered in the moments of brutality, and agony is felt in ecstasy.


A great book consisting of 11 short stories based on the Vietnam war and how the war has impacted people from all walks of life. One of my favourite stories is “The Bridge Behind”, where we are introduced to an old man who suffered the loss of his wife and now struggles to keep up with the everyday life amidst the cruelty of the soldiers who have invaded their place. We see how rude the soldiers were towards the people of Vietnam, including the old man, who literally lives life at the mercy of the soldiers. Finally, we see how an explosion that took place shattered the old man’s life as he watches the explosion with tears.

I feel like the stories are written so authentically that anyone reading them could feel the emotions of the characters and what the stings of war could do to people. At times, I also feel that we are fortunate to have not gone through them in life.

A five star for this book! Wonderfully written. Very poignant stories.

Book Review: Grenade Bouquets: A Runaway Train Novel by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Grenade Bouquets: A Runaway Train Novel


I had stars in my eyes and I couldn’t see around them…

The year is 1995 and my parents have finally allowed me to take the summer to tour in a VW van across the country with my boyfriend Evan and our band. Yes, my dream to be a singer became reality. Even with Clarissa, Evan’s jealous ex-girlfriend, as the lead singer, it’s my presence on stage that led us to a major record deal. There are moments you’ll always remember in life, but I can’t imagine anything more cool than hearing your song on the radio for the first time.

But being a Rockstar isn’t as easy as it sounds. Using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, nothing but tension surrounded me, hurting my still blossoming relationship, and continued grieving over my sister’s death.

A love letter to the nineties and a journey of a girl becoming a woman, Grenade Bouquets charts the rollercoaster ride of a band primed to explode on the scene, as long as they keep from actually exploding.

“An engaging ’90s pastiche with an earnest heart beating at its center.”– Kirkus Reviews on Runaway Train.


If you are a fan of everything from the 90s, you would definitely love reading ‘Grenade Bouquets,’ as it brings the vibes of life back in the 90s, especially through the lens of Nico’s life as a Rockstar. As Nico grieves for the death of her sister, she also tries to get her life back on track and embarks on the journey to becoming a singer that summer, with the permission of her parents. I thought that was a brave move by Nico by helping herself to move on from a difficult situation, although she struggles emotionally through the process.

Nico faces challenges in the band when she is told that she is the backup singer and Clarissa, the lead singer, wants to keep all the attention to herself, and is jealous of Nico. However, Nico gains confidence and performs better as time passes. On top of that, her friendship with Winter too has been fractured. Nico also struggles to control her emotions and anger as she faces troubles that come along the way. How she handles the problems makes up the rest of the story, which is quite an emotional roller coaster but is very much relatable as we all have gone through hardships in life, considering the fact that Nico’s character as a teenager is very realistic.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book as it brought memories from the 90s back. The challenge that life throws at Nico also made the story more engaging, and it reminds me how even with a lot of mess in life, we still get through the hard times successfully.

Book Review: Little Johnny Goes to the Fair (Little Johnny Series) by Dr. Samuel E. Sanchez

Author Interview – Samuel E. Sanchez | Your Health Journal
Little Johnny Goes to the Fair


Little Johnny, and family, visit the Maricopa County Fair.  While at the fair they meet Mr Farnsworth, the fair’s owner, and Mr. Ybanez, the fair’s director.  During thier time at the fair, Mr. Ybanez share the story of the “Good Samaritan”.  This story changes their lives forever. 

Come one, come all and see how it changed their lives. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a short book for children, mainly Christians, around 12 years old as the story is a little long but with a great message underlying it. The book consists of about 46 pages and it can be finished in one sitting. However, it would be great if parents accompany the reading to explain what the story is all about to them. The book is about twins, Little Johnny and his twin sister who live a happy life with their parents. Little Johnny wants to go the County Fair but his parents requested the twins to help with house chores and feeding the horses. The kids happily abided to their parents’ request and soon, they were on their way to the Fair. Upon arriving at the Fair, they learnt that they had a surprise from the fair’s owner. The fair director also shared a story with them on how Christian families should not practise double standards and treat everyone equally regardless of their race and religion.

Book Review: The Reclaimed Kingdom by Dana Claire

The Reclaimed Kingdom


Under the cruel ministrations of its Queen, the Kingdom of D’Land is in peril. With King Harrison away in foreign lands and neighboring Kingdoms unwilling to intervene, there is no one to protect the people from poverty, harsh punishment, and unreasonable rules of law—except for the Band of Brothers. Struggling with the death of her mother and the legendary syphon powers she inherited, seventeen-year-old Dru wants nothing more than to escape her old life. Disguised as a lad, she joins the motley crew of good-hearted ruffians, pilfering from the rich to feed the poor and pay their taxes, and she becomes an integral ally—and friend. When her true nature is discovered, nothing changes among the lads—except for the way her close friend Hawkin begins treating her, protective and attentive, raising uncertainty and confusion within her. But Dru’s new world is overturned when she and the Brothers seize the treasures of a Prince who unknowingly threatens to reveal her identity. Together, Dru and her chosen family must find a way to reclaim her destiny and bring balance to the Kingdom through Dru’s powerful gift. If not, there may be no hope left for anyone and her power lost forever.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I must say this book brings back memories of my family and me watching Xena the Warrior Princess in the mid 90s. This book is a great, short medieval fantasy read and I love how the author developed the main character, Dru. She is young but very bold and powerful, and someone who has a mysterious past which is never revealed in the beginning of the story. Although you can guess there is more to this 17-year-old girl. The plot development is easy to follow and some parts of the book are filled with plot twists which will take you by surprise, especially if you are a fan of medieval fantasy books and think that you could guess the plot of this book. Some other parts are rather predictable, especially the one on love triangle between Dru and two men. What is interesting is how Princess Andrua a.k.a Dru has to hide her gender and identity to join the Band of Brothers and that keeps the readers hooked to the story as tension rises when they finally get to know she is a female! I do think that the author has done a great job weaving an interesting story that keeps readers entertained throughout the read.

Book Review: September to Remember: Searching for Culinary Pleasures at the Italian Table (Book Three) by Carole Bumpus

September to Remember

Join Carole Bumpus and her husband in Book Three of the Savoring the Olde Ways series as they take you on their first culinary trek through Italy, including regions of Lombardy, Tuscany, Compania, Apulia, and Lazio. Embrace unforgettable characters such as lovely guides Lisa and Margarita, who introduce you to the “true Italian experience.” Sup on traditional foods (cucina povera) including local tortelli, pappardelle al cinghiale (wild boar), bistecca all Fiorentina, pasta alla vongole (clams), or saltimbocca alla Romana. Sip regional wines, along with memorable digestivos like limoncello and grappa. Find yourself dancing at harvest festivals, climbing through Etruscan tombs, traipsing among Roman ruins, or bathing in ancient Roman termés (hot springs). Climb to the heights in elegant Capri on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast, or to the top of the “holiest of holies” at St. Peter’s Basilica. Soak up ancient and cultural history in Milan, Firenze (Florence), Amalfi, Pompeii, Lecce, and Rome. Bask in the sun and opalescent waters along the rugged coasts of the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas. And, best of all, capture a rare glimpse into the secrets of the Mediterranean psyche while sharing a good meal with new friends. It is truly the trip of a lifetime.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is Book Three of the ‘Savoring the Olde Ways’ Series, and I believe this is a standalone book as I have not read the two other books. The book is a memoir of the writer; whose husband brought her to Italy after her retirement in 1998.

 I have to say that this book covers more of her journey and experiences along her trip. If you are purely looking for a book that talks about food in particular, this book may not fascinate you. However, if you are open to learning about new cultures and experiences of the world through someone else’s lenses, then you would thoroughly enjoy this book. As I believe the author has a penchant for weaving great stories.

Carole Bumpus’s writing skills are impeccable and that made me enjoy her “trip” down memory lane with her through Italy, especially now when we cannot travel amidst the pandemic. At the end of the book, you will find all the recipes related to the food talked about in every chapter.

Book Review: A Summit Without Mercy by Dylan Walker

Somewhere in the Himalayas, a Buddhist guru and a rogue spy devise a nefarious plan to instigate a nuclear war between two nuclear neighbors – India and China.

An Indian agent is missing. The Indian Intelligence Bureau tasks their best agent, Keshav Bose, with locating him. As he follows the clues, he uncovers a far more devious plot is underway.

With French spy Camilla Faidu by his side, Bose has to handle hired assassins, a Turkish mercenary, and a sect of brainwashed beauties to prevent nuclear war. What they uncover leads them to the dashing, young Chinese ex-pat and his palatial retreat, but thwarting disaster comes at a heavy price and makes them targets.

Their only option is to infiltrate the compound, disrupt the plan, and hope they make it out alive.

Find out what happens in this adrenaline-rushing international espionage thriller!


Rating: 4 out of 5.

With just a little over 100 pages, this book is an exciting page-turner and I finished reading it at one sitting. Camillia and Keshav are the two main characters in this story. Camillia has been the Director of a spa for 6 years and now has been assigned a new job, as a spy, to assist Keshav in his expedition to locate a missing Indian Agent. The story evolves rather quickly as the book is quite short, and I felt that if it is a longer book, it would have been even better, as the writer has a great talent in weaving an interesting story – which is why it is a page turner. The romance between Keshav and Camillia, and how they had to part ways after the task is over, is something I particularly liked about the story. A great attempt by the writer as this is his debut book.

Book Review: The Connection by Dana Claire

The Connection by Dana Claire


Beatrice Walker thought she lived in a normal world—that is until she learned she’s a living hostel for an alien energy source, and apparently the answer to preventing extinction. Bea has no memory of her last moments with her mother. The week they’d gone missing is a complete mystery. Suddenly moved back to her hometown with her father, Bea has rekindled her friendship with her two best friends—and seems to have caught the attention of an arrogant, yet gorgeous boy named Cash Kingston. But there’s more to Cash than his annoying attitude and good looks. Cash isn’t human, and he’s now in charge of protecting Bea from those who know what she keeps safe inside her: the energy source that once belonged to his murdered girlfriend. Tensions mount as Bea learns her energy source must be paired with the one Cash holds to protect both their planets from an imminent threat. But what Bea doesn’t realize is there’s more to her than being a human host, that her feelings for Cash are not just a prophetic plan that will save their planets, and that the fate of everything lies in her choices.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


This book is a short and easy read, with about 280 pages and well-spaced text lines, making it a pleasant experience reading it. This book may seem like a regular YA novel, but the alien science fiction and dystopian love gives you a unique reading pleasure. You may also think that you will be able to figure out what will happen in the book but at many instances, the plot twists will take you by surprise and as the book ends with a cliffhanger, it leaves you wanting to know more!

The story is about a high-school student by the name of Bea, who thinks that she is just like everyone else, a normal human being but she learns that she is not. She is the host for an alien energy source and holds the key to prevent its extinction. Then enters Cash Kingston in her life to protect her and the alien energy source that she is hosting. But what’s interesting is the fact that Cash was told to protect Bea by Bea’s late mother and the message was conveyed through his girlfriend as she was breathing her last. What happened in the past and how Cash deciphers the puzzle that Bea’s mom presented to them is what the rest of the story is all about.

The book contains swear languages and the plot also moves fast, which can be confusing for some readers but nevertheless, it does not come across as a major problem.

With the cliffhanger, one can expect the answers to a lot of puzzles to be revealed in the next book. An enjoyable read. 

Dana Claire
Dana Claire

When author Dana Claire had several poems published as an elementary school student, she was hooked and writing became her passion. A shared dream of hers and her mother’s, she promised her dying mother that she would become a published author and that dream has been realized with The Connection.

Dana believes that a good story is made through strong character development; when readers become attached to the characters’ emotional state and are invested in their objectives. She believes that the beauty of reading is that one can live a hundred lives within the stories of books. Her own stories come to her in her dreams, and she wakes up with book ideas.

Dana’s family is very supportive of her writing and the creativity and sentiment driving it. Enjoying bicoastal living between Los Angeles and New York, Dana says she “lives the best romance in the world being married to the most amazing man she could ever ask for.” The Connection is her debut YA novel, the first volume in a planned trilogy.

Book Review: The 36 Watchers book II: Spring by Dan Bar Hava

Dan Bar Hava

Dan Bar Hava was born and raised in Jerusalem. Creativity was anessential part of his life early on, with music being the focus during teens and young adulthood, and writing thereafter. After serving inthe military and phase one of higher education, Dan moved to the US. He has co-written the film Falling Star (aka Goyband), a romantic comedy featuring Adam Pascal and Natasha Lyonne; and Brooklyn All American, a coming-of-age sports tale.Dan’s first book, The 36 Watchers, book I: Fall. Came out in 2019. The sequel, “The 36 Watchers book II: Spring, is slated to be published in 2021.

Book 2

Jenna is going on her first Watcher assignment, helping a major historical event into becoming a reality.

Reviewer: Yasir Sulaiman

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Simply Awesome!

The series just gets better with this one! The Author – Dan Bar Hava keeps readers of this book hooked from page 1! I can at least claim to have undergone that effect! The author has done a great job in combining certain important events in the world with religion and science. I believe the objective of any book (especially fiction) of any genre is to make the reader feel involved with the content inside. He/she must be enabled to relate with the characters.  And this is exactly what Dan Bar did with the second installment of the “36 watchers: Spring.”  The book starts with a mysterious character named “Henry”. I emphasize “mysterious” because this Henry character comes only at the beginning and end of the book; but he has a large role to play in it.  The story is complex but the base-line is how a group known as the “Watchers” attempts to bring to reality or actually accomplish something that was planned over the world’s history- crossing thousands and hundreds of years. Amazingly, the book has references to all major cultures and or religions of the globe.

Without giving any “spoiler” and without revealing too much of the plot, the “watchers” are a group of 36 anonymous members who “watch” different incidents in history for a bigger objective.  None of the members know each other and they contact through a “mind-contact” of some sort. That is, they can feel each others’ presence though I wish to correct myself; they are not supposed to contact each other. Jenna is the main character and she occupies most of the plot. She receives instructions from Uncle Josh.  The author-Dan Bar Hava has beautifully blended science with faith in this book and you begin to wonder, “if that is possible”, or “why can’t it be?”

Besides Jenna and Uncle Josh (please count Henry as well), core characters in this book are named Chris, Stephanie, along with Yoav. As mentioned, the author has described different incidents in the history of the world; be it from Egypt, the Mediterranean, and old an Jewish discipline. I am fascinated by how multiple complex events from history were combined together in this one book. And when I mention history, please also include events from the recent past.

 The author has given me and will surely give other readers certain aspects they will have to think of. I especially liked his connection between science and religion. I do not wish to describe more of the characters or the happenings/timelines as that could reveal large portions of the book’s plot.  The mystery and urge to know what comes next are the main USPs of this book. Unfortunately, the book has some flaws as well. For one, certain characters did not match. For example, a female character is said to be like a niece in one place and she is described as a romantic link in another, though uncle-like feelings were clearly demonstrated by the male character.  Also, there were a few typing error. The author’s narration style was good- it resembled conversations or thoughts instead of complete sentences.  However, the formatting could have been better. Along with these, the lack of clarity in some portions could be a dampener as readers could take some time to understand what the author is saying. It is only for these reasons; I am stopping short of a complete five-star. Otherwise, this book was revolutionary!

Book Review: The Feast and other Horrifying Tales by David Vorhees


A collection of short stories that take place on different holidays over the course of the year. The collection opens with “A New Year, a New Day, a New Life.” Grant Curtis is arrested on New Year’s Day and charged with the murder of his wife Carla. In “Easter: The Resurrection,” a resurrected Kyle Gardner seeks vengeance on Pastor Brian. “The Vengeance of Cassidy Clay” is a narrative poem that takes place on Halloween. The poem tells the story of a slave-hunter who haunts the woods long after his death and many more spine chilling tales.

The Feast

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m not really a fan of dark thrillers but I find The Feast to be a short entertaining and gripping book with 7 short stories. The book is about 200 pages in length, so each short story is a very quick read, good enough to help sway your attention from a busy work day. What made the stories interesting is how the author cleverly weaved the 7 stories surrounding holiday seasons, right from New Year’s Day to Christmas Day. These dark stories are filled with gore, violence and thriller.

The Halloween story is about a man’s spirit returning to haunt people in the city where he was executed. The Fourth of July is surrounding a conspiracy theory created by a man and how he relates to his Middle Eastern neighbour. The Valentines Day is about a necrophilic who has a crush on a woman. Easter: The Resurrection was about the Easter egg hunt and a preacher’s sins from his past coming to haunt him. Thanksgiving is about a friendly family but one that also practices cannibalism. Dear Santa is about a man’s confession of sins to Santa.

Book Review: The Runaways of Missing Lake by Tanya Fyfe

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Luke Houser and his friends enter their junior year at Missing Lake High School in rural western Montana under extremely unusual circumstances after a tremendous forest fire kept the community on edge for months. The memory of the fire permeates all aspects of everyone’s lives, including those of the incredible secret dragon family who live up north. Luke makes a new canine friend through his step-mom’s veterinary clinic and Chase plays an important role despite not being one of the family’s beloved sled dogs. The silver dragon, Zagros has some serious news for his young Dragoneer that will impact the entire dragon realm, particularly the young ones, Helios and Cassiel. Luke has to process this information all while a crisis unfolds during one of Ms.Tanner’s Sharing Sessions in English class. Luke and two of his best friends are suddenly involved in the frightening situation and it is one more time that Luke realizes how special it is to attend a smaller high school where just about everyone knows who you are. Luke’s ability to be charming, thoughtful and funny once again endears him to his classmates even though he has to make choices that could jeopardize their meaningful relationships. These choices challenge the sometimes awkward sixteen-year-old but he cannot share them with anyone without risking the discovery of the magnificent dragons. Luke and his friends are very much teenagers and their experiences, frustrations and dialogues are relatable and even touching at times. Luke and his father are still training their Alaskan huskies and the dream to race this coming winter is very real. This is the fourth book in the Missing Lake series that follows a reluctantly intrepid young man’s journey into adulthood with his family, friends, dogs, cats and dragons by his side. Tanya Fyfe has been creating the Missing Lake series for several years after publishing Lost and Found in Missing Lake in 2014. The talented illustrator, Ben Brick came on board for The Dragons of Missing Lake and Secrets Abound in Missing Lake. The series introduces a modern blended family living in rural Montana where they eventually get to meet a dragon family. The fantasy weaves in with the real life fictional story in a very believable way. This is a series of hope, love and friendship while also being a story about caring for others. It is about being more than just yourself, which comes at a crucial time in our planet’s history.


The Runaways of Missing Lake is the fourth book in the Missing Lake series and can be read as a standalone book. Especially since the author introduced the main characters in the series in the opening chapter. This makes it easier for readers to understand the background of the story, especially for those who have not read the other three books. Reading this book gives a pleasant walk down the memory lane when I was a kid as I enjoyed reading the ‘Famous Five’ series. I particularly liked how the author cleverly intertwined climate change with a young adult’s book.

During summer break, a wildfire swept off the town of Missing Lake. A major evacuation took place in the town. After the situation had been brought under control, school students were back home just in time for school to start. Soon after school resumed, Luke’s English teacher collapsed during class, on top of Luke. Luke and some of his classmates had taken CPR class and started caring for her right away while another student went for adult assistance and one called 911. Luke, the main character in this story, is a compassionate boy who loves animals and also cares for his new found friends, the dragons in the lake area. There are not many dragons left in the world and they have to hide themselves from humans. So they are a big secret that Luke is tasked to keep. The wildfire has affected the dragons as well, and the rest of the story is about how Luke handled the ordeals life threw at him between teen life and caring for the dragons.

An easy read for young adults and I would certainly recommend the book. A 4.5 star for this book.