Book Review: The Stars Beyond the Mesa – In the Giant’s Shadow Book One by Pete A O’Donnell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An exciting page-turner that features 5 kids whose parents are scientists. Their parents are on a dangerous and secret mission, and these kids try to decipher the mystery along the way. An enjoyable fast-paced read that takes place within three days and therefore offers a lot of suspense and thrillers for readers. A great middle-grade read that would entertain just about anyone who reads it.

Book Review: Squat!: A Readable Sitcom

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The characters set in the fitness center in this sitcom are completely hilarious and entertaining, while also reflecting the current situations like the Covid-19 and the new normal of wearing masks. This sitcom is a page turner and I find it very well-written with witty characters entertaining the readers all the way. Highly recommended if you are looking for a relaxing and enjoyable leisure read.

Book Review: The Cursed Item Merchant: A Young Adult Fantasy of Cursed Enchanting Tales by Endlyn

The cursed items are powerful… But not as strong as their friendship.

Menda spent her whole childhood living a simple life in the village. A serene and happy existence surrounded by the love of her family and friends. But all changed on one perilous evening when the blight of the Dark Dragon emerged, raining fire down upon the people of her home.

In a chance encounter, a cursed coat binds to her as a power source saving the town by absorbing the fire of the dragon’s breath. Fulfilling her part of the deal, Menda’s life changes forever. After a separation and a reunion the two learn to become friends.

Together, they journey the land discovering other cursed items and finding opportunities for the mysterious artifact to find mighty attachments just like theirs…

An illustrated fantasy packed full of stories of cursed items that will entwine and wrap around the reader. For Young Adults, New Adults, and Adults. A low Fantasy tale with beautifully drawn illustrations not to be missed.

Grab your copy of “The Cursed Item Merchant” Now and find out how indestructible a friendship can be.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book is a short joyable read and the first written by the author. I particularly liked the world building aspects and how the main character, Menda, was covered by a curse coat which enabled her to save her village from the destruction of Dragon. She then brings us for a roller-coaster adventure where she saves many more others using her newfound power. I like how the author has woven the story to connect one characters with the others, making it an enjoyable read. It is a little over 200 pages and can be read within a few days. A fairly easy read. Highly recommended if you like Young Adult & Sorcery Fantasy

Book Review by Jas: Uncomfortable Ideas by Dr. Bo Bennett

Prepare for a Bumpy Ride.

Many of our ideas about the world are based more on feelings than facts, sensibilities than science, and rage than reality. We gravitate toward ideas that make us feel comfortable in areas such as religion, politics, philosophy, social justice, love and sex, humanity, and morality. We avoid ideas that make us feel uncomfortable. This avoidance is a largely unconscious process that affects our judgment and gets in the way of our ability to reach rational and reasonable conclusions. By understanding how our mind works in this area, we can start embracing uncomfortable ideas and be better informed, be more understanding of others, and make better decisions in all areas of life.

Some uncomfortable ideas entertained in this book:

  • Political correctness can be harmful
  • Identity politics is a dangerous game
  • Morality is functionally democratic
  • Victims often do share some of the responsibility
  • God is a far more horrifying character than Satan
  • There is no such thing as freewill
  • Americans are manipulated into being pro-war
  • Non-whites can be racist, and women can be sexist
  • Some people do “choose to be gay”
  • Sometimes the bad guys win
  • Obese people are not perfect the way they are
  • It’s okay to find inappropriate jokes funny

Facts don’t care about feelings. Science isn’t concerned about sensibilities. And reality couldn’t care less about rage.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “A bumpy ride indeed. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the content, it still manages to make one think critically about certain things, and that is always a good thing. What’s more, it is being presented in a non-threatening, clear, balanced, and objective way. A great way to tackle uncomfortable ideas.”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Very eye-opening. Making us question the things that make them uncomfortable and why, is what we all need. Love it!”

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Definitely a book that requires some time for the readers to read and reflect on many uncomfortable aspects of life. I certainly enjoyed reading this book and took time to ponder upon the questions summarized at the end of the book. Many of the ideas discussed are something I have questioned myself before and as we humans have biasness, these questions may not always have a truthful answer and we may also find ourselves conflicting what we said in the past just because we now think differently and therefore think what was not acceptable in the past can now be accepted. I think it is especially true when it comes to relationships and polyamarous relationships. It can be a very difficult subject to handle but while polyamarous relationships are certainly possible, I would question the level of fulfillment one gets out of relationships as a whole, when attention is divided between many parties involved.
Likewise, the author has also mentioned that extreme feminism can cause people to question the reason behind the movement in the first place, which I agree.
I think this book is worth reading from the perspective of a professional who wrote the book to encourage people to embrace different ideas.

Book Review: Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow

Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow is a charming introduction to investing! I have long felt that I should know more about the topic but have struggled to find resources that don’t confuse me or put me to sleep. This book solved both problems! It’s an engaging resource that has empowered me to be a better steward of my limited retirement funds.”

— Sally L. Bond, President & Senior Consultant, The Program Evaluation Group, LLC, Chapel Hill, NC

Ready to get a clue about investing and take charge of your financial future?

Before you sink a single dollar into the stock market, read Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow by Susan Laubach. It’s a fun, painless, and profitable introduction to the world of investing.

If terms like broker, bonds, and venture capital cause you to break out into a sweat, fear not! Laubach teaches through entertaining, colorful retellings of fables and fairy tales you already know by heart.

You’ll learn business and investing fundamentals right alongside The Three Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, and more.

  • How are stocks and bonds different?
  • What causes a stock price to go up or down?
  • Why are earnings per share critical to understand?

You’ll even learn an easy-to-apply “secret formula” to discover if a stock price is a good value—or not!

Investment concepts are broken down in easy-to-understand, easy-to-remember language. Rumpelstiltskin’s seven rules will provide a foundation for all your future investments. (They’ll also equip you to sniff out the foxes and wolves selling bad investments).

These “rules” are essential for investing, served with a smile, so you can laugh while learning.

A practical summary and study guide at the back of the book further reinforces your knowledge and provides a quick refresher whenever you need it.

With Susan Laubach as your storyteller and guide, you can be sure you’re in good hands. She is a former Wall Street stockbroker and financial educator. She’s taught several levels of investment education to students aged 18 to 74. Better Investing Magazine called Laubach’s previous book “the most-well rounded source of basic stock information and education.”

Look, if Baby Bear can grow up to be a successful stock broker, then you can learn to invest, too.

Time is money, and there’s no better time to learn about investing than right now. Make Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow your first—or next—investment in your financial future. The knowledge you’ll gain will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a great book for older children to understand the crucial concepts in finance when they are young as they would otherwise struggle to be interested in learning as they grow older. I still remember Robert Kiyosaki’s book The Rich Dad Poor Dad and that was the first exposure to financial intelligence we got growing up, and that too when we were young adults. A book like this would definitely interest young kids to start understanding money literacy and the wisdoms from the author can be passed on to them at an early age in life. I love how the author has incorporated fairy-tale-like stories to make the concepts simpler, so that the kids remain interested when learning all 7 rules in investing.

Book Review: Boo’s Shoes – A Rabbit And Fox Story: Learn To Tie Shoelaces by Sybrina Durant

An Interview with the Author

No Laces! That’s what Boo, the bunny, always says. He doesn’t want to learn to tie them. He has plenty of shoes for every occasion and none of them have laces or strings. So, what’s the point of learning to tie? His friend, Farah Fox, convinces him that it’s a skill he can use. . . and one that might make him happier, too.

This book is meant to be a parent-child activity. Youngsters can read Boo’s story and their parents can help with the how-to-tie instruction pages. A fun shoelace-themed “I Did It” badge is included at the back of the book to give in celebration of conquering this difficult task.

Exercises in manual dexterity build self-esteem in children. Knowing how to tie shoe-strings, scarves and more into a bow is a useful and rewarding skill.

“Teach a child a useful skill. Build confidence and self-esteem that lasts a lifetime.”
Author, Sybrina Durant

Other books in the “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and the Fox” series are the book with that name in English, Spanish and Tagalog plus a special little book to gift to boys in a wedding party. “Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf”, “Ned Knows How To Knot A Neck Tie” and “Cleo Can Tie A Bow” are also part of the series.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A very short yet entertaining kids’ book that teaches how to tie the shoe laces in a fun and engaging way. With lots of colourful illustrations, the pages are not too wordy and the illustrations help in the “how-to” explanation when it comes to tying shoe laces. Love how the author incorporated links to videos where kids can further watch numerous ways to tie shoe laces. Fun and interactive short book, perfect as a Christmas gift.

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

Grenade Bouquets: A Runaway Train Novel

Blurb:

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.

Review:

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 by Jas – Birth of a Unicorn: Six Basic Steps to Success by Heather Wilde

Birth of a Unicorn: Six Basic Steps to Success by Heather Wilde

Blurb:

Have you ever dreamed about creating your own company? Have you wondered what it takes to make it to that elite, inner circle of the “Unicorn Club”?

In this book, you’ll find the true story behind one of Silicon Valley’s famous companies on its rise to the top. Peek behind the curtain as you see the highs and lows from an insider perspective, on the roller coaster that is the startup life. What emerges is a lasting friendship, a billion-dollar company, and an understandable framework of success for you to replicate.

You’ll learn:
● How to find the balance between your career and personal life.
● Why emotional awareness and critical thinking are as important as specialized knowledge.
● How to identify the real skills you need to build a “Unicorn” team.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Heather, along with her husband, was one of Evernote’s first employees. Heather, unlike other self-help writers who have built successful businesses in Silicon Valley, shows us the reality of building a Fortune 500 company, which includes the strain it can cause on relationships, health, and emotions. Heather walks down memory lane to the time where she and her husband worked hard with the other founders of Evernote, how the workload brought them together but also separated each other. Heather also came to a point where she had to prioritize her marriage amidst the increasing workload and how as a couple, she managed to do it. The challenge doesn’t stop just there, as she had to deal with fatigue and sleep deprivation.

The core of her coaching methods rests on six basic needs for humanity: uncertainty, significance, love/connection, growth, contribution, and certainty. I love how she placed an emphasis on love and connection because, without these two elements, life gets very meaningless. I also think that as entrepreneurs embrace greater challenges, they often forgo their health, family, and friends, which are the very reasons why they started working hard in the first place.

Some of the marketing efforts she made can serve as inspiration for anyone having small businesses and I feel that her opinions are honest and they come from a place to help people.

The formatting of the book was a little confusing and the headings were all over the place, which made it confusing. The narration sometimes gets a little repetitive, especially surrounding the relationship with her husband however, this is a worthwhile read.

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

Blurb:

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

Blurb:

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.