Book Video Review #9: Built to Serve by Evan Carmichael

Book Video Review #9

As you know, I’ve started doing book video reviews as a #booktuber and my reviews would be book-fiction books.

This book review is #BuilttoServe by #EvanCarmichael

The scores are:
Internal Layout: 9/10
Plot Development: 8/10
Key Takeaway Message: 8/10
Overall score: 8.7/10

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

Blurb:

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.

Blurb:

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.

Review:

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.

Book Review: Murphy Murphy: And The Case of Serious Crisis by Keith Hirshland

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Murphy Murphy comes from a long line of male Murphys. All were named Murphy and all were cops. This Murphy heads the Department of Redundancy Department and his superior officer, Captain David “Dud” Hill has found him a case. The Captain’s niece is in a rock ‘n roll band called Serious Crisis, and it seems items belonging to members of the band have started to disappear.

Were these items stolen? Were they simply lost? As Murphy Murphy works the case, he must chase down the clues all the while dealing with grammatical anomalies that drive him crazy. As Murphy gets closer to the answers he seeks, one more “thing” goes missing; the Captain’s niece. Suddenly, in an instant, the stakes in the case of Serious Crisis become a lot more dire.

Part Jasper Fforde, part Michael Connelly; Murphy Murphy, and the Case of Serious Crisis combines humor, mystery, and grammar goofs as the detective pursues clues and suspects from coast to coast. It’s an entertaining and educational read for all ages.

I wouldn’t lie, I had to re-read most of the sentences in the book due to the heavy wordplay in the book, which made me think a lot as well. Learning that the author is a television producer and an Emmy award recepient as well with over three decades of experience, one could easily tell why this book is old-fashioned. It would definitely remind you of TV shows like “Mind Your Language” and the witty characters in the book, especially the protagonist reminds me of Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory” show.

A genre that is usually serious is made funny and entertaining, just like the old-fashioned way of storytelling. A five star for this well thought out book. A great job! I am now curious to check out the TV shows the author produced before this!

Book Review: Keeping the Lights on for Ike

Keeping The Lights On For Ike

Blurb:

Most people don’t realize that during the war in Europe in the 1940s, it took an average of six support soldiers to make the work of four combat soldiers possible. Most of what’s available in the literature tends toward combat narratives, and yet the support soldiers had complex and unique experiences as well. This book is based on personal correspondence, and it is primarily a memoir that creates a picture of the day-to-day realities of an individual soldier told in his own words [as much as he could tell under the wartime rules of censorship, that is] as well as giving insight into what it was actually like to be an American soldier during WWII. It explores the experiences of a non-combat Army utilities engineer working in a combat zone during the war in Europe and takes the protagonist from basic training through various overseas assignments—in this case to England, North Africa, and Italy as a support soldier under Eisenhower and his successors at Allied Force Headquarters. It also includes some reflections about his life after returning to Oregon when the war was over.

The soldier involved is Captain Harold Alec Daniels [OSU, Class of 1939, ROTC] and most of the letters were written to his wife, Mary Daniels [attended U of O in the late 1930s]. They are the author’s parents, and she inherited the letter collection, photos, and all other primary source materials after her mother’s death in 2006.

Review:

If you are someone who loves history, this book will fascinate you as you learn the journey of a utilities engineer during the World War II, through his letters to his wife, and how essential the services of engineers were during one of the difficult times the human race had faced before. Alec and Mary are the author’s parents and this beautiful memoir will move you with the love between Alec and Mary, and how they kept the marriage alive throughout the War.

I must say it was an intense read, not knowing what will happen to Alec. I loved reading this book. A five star for this book.

Book Review: The Benefits of Breathing by Christopher Meeks

The Benefits of Breathing on Amazon

Blurb:

As Roderick Clark says in the Foreword, “It’s all about love, isn’t it?”

In The Benefits of Breathing, Christopher Meeks’s third collection of short stories, Meeks dives again into the human condition, particularly within relationships. As one reader wrote on Amazon, “Some authors need a lot of words to describe their worlds and their people. Christopher Meeks says a lot with a little.” The Los Angeles Times has called his stories “poignant and wise.”

In this volume, “A Dog Story” captures a crumbled marriage and the love of a dog named Scrappy. “Joni Paredes” shows the birth of a new relationship that starts at a daughter’s wedding. “Nestor by the Numbers” follows one man’s often hilarious online dating experiences after he finally accepts his wife is gone. “Jerry with a Twist” shows an actor on an audition while his pregnant girlfriend helps him through a crisis. These and seven other stories will bring you into the special world of Meeks.

As reviewer Grady Harp notes, if you’ve previously “discovered the idiosyncrasies of Meeks’s writing style and content, rest assured that this new collection not only will not disappoint, but also it will provide further proof that we have a superior writer of the genre in our presence.”
“If you like Raymond Carver,” said author David Scott Milton, “you’ll love Meeks.”

Review:

Christopher Meeks is an award winning writer and picking up his collection of short stories makes me feel excited. I love short fiction stories depicting events from our everyday life we all can connect with. This book has 11 beautiful short stories that are written in a simple manner with details of everyday life we can all engage in.

Meeks has focused on stories revolving around relationship, mostly on how we all feel when relationships crumble and when new ones blossom. I love how in one of the short stories, he described how perplexing online dating can be and how we define each phase of the dating period, as one person might seem to be a little more invested than the other.

In another story, we see how a mother of a grown-up girl meets an interesting man at her daughter’s wedding. Another one, by the title “The Benefits of Breathing”, describes an old man’s life surrounded by his loving family and this story provides us an opportunity to observe life from a 90-year-old man’s perspective.

A great short read. 4 stars for this book.

Book Review: 2222 by Tom Buyens

2222
2222 by Tom Buyens

2222 is an epic story about three future populations. The story begins with a romantic setting but is soon covered with mystery. The Americanos, Tibetans and Aussies of 2222 are called to war.

Review:

This is a short book that consists of only 54 pages. It is rather a short read and the story develops very excitingly from one chapter to another. The only downside of it is that some of the characters are named after Roman numerals, which can be quite confusing at times. Apart from that, the story is easy to follow although several chapters lack continuity.

A 4 star for this book.

https://www.lulu.com/shop/tom-buyens/2222/ebook/product-24502013.html

Book Review: Teetering On Disaster by Michaela Renee

Teetering On Disaster

Blurb:

It was 1992 when her father saw the economic collapse coming, he had two choices, the rough path or the easy path, and he chose the rough one… Dad began.Then, I interrupted, “DAD, ITS MY MEMOIR!” And then my Mompiped in and yelled, “OH MY GOD! I RAISED A BUNCH OF NARCISSISTS!” Let’s try again… Meet Michaela: she’s the girl nextdoor–except that “next door” happens to be a 27-foot 5th Wheel Trailer with no electricity or running water in the Sierra Nevada’s. At 17, she sets out to take on the world, but 10 years later, she finds herself right back where she started…in a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry-sometimes at the same time- as she stumbles upon a few Mr. Right Now’s and other adventures on her quest to find love and uncover the girl she always was but had lost somewhere along the way. Join ‘Crazy Kayla’ and her nutty cast of characters for a little muddy-path Rock Crawlin’ through the true story of how her American Dream survives and thrives, in the face of life’s inconveniences and heartbreaking setbacks that sometimes leave her Teetering on Disaster.

Review:

I loved the first part of Michaela’s memoir. Her family moved from a house into a trailer with no electricity and basic necessities. I am not sure if I could cope with a life similar to that of the one she lived but all I can say is that I admire the family’s tenacity to stick together during tough times.

The second part describes her life post marriage and divorce, which can be a little depressing as things turn hard for her in her marriage life.

However, I enjoyed the sense of humor the author incorporated into the book.

Overall, I’d rate this book a 4 star.

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Book Review: A Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

A Place Called Jubilee by Timothy J. Garrett

Blurb:

Named Notable Indie #1 in the Shelf Unbound Magazine 2019 Best Indie Book Awards. Deception, witchcraft, and the secrets of a long-dead former slave churn the life of ambitious young clergyman Coleman Hightower – even as fear, bombings, and riots rock the nation. Timothy J. Garrett’s historical novel A PLACE CALLED JUBILEE tells Coleman’s story as he leaves his mountain home and arrives in Washington D.C. in 1961 as the Civil Rights movement explodes across America. Coleman’s plans for a prestigious life are torn apart by his forbidden longing for beautiful and fiery activist Rosalee. His search for meaning turns into a desperate journey that takes him and the woman of his dreams all the way to Jubilee, Alabama – a place where intrigue, betrayal, and murder combine to make Coleman wonder if he will win Rosalee’s love or even leave the tiny town alive.

Review:

This is a historical fiction that incorporates elements of civil rights, which is very relatable to the 1960s period of time. The story starts with Coleman telling his family that he wants to be a pastor and leaves to Washington. It was the time where civil right movement was being actively advocated for and Coleman joins the crowd to watch the inauguration of JFK. When he was heading back from the inauguration, he went to an unknown area and got beaten up by a group of black men. A young black lady by the name of Rosalee came to his rescue, and he fell for her. Coleman and Rosalee journeyed to a town called Jubilee, where more challenges await them.

This book has a lot of twists which will keep you hooked to the story from the very beginning, and most importantly, it invites you to relive the era where people look at love beyond skin color, and this is a beautiful element incorporated in the story.

A 5 star for this book.

Book Review: Time With Norma Jeane by Elyse Douglas

Time With Norma Jeane: A Time Travel Novel by [Douglas, Elyse]
Time With Norma Jeane: A Time Travel

Blurb:

A young woman is hurled back to 1954 to spend a week with Marilyn Monroe.

Together, they embark on their own personal journeys — one a coming-of-age — the other, Marilyn’s journey, a struggle to reconcile with her past and perhaps change the future.

A delightful and enthralling read! Elyse Douglas captured magic and put it on the page.
—Ambling Bookworm Reviews

Time with Norma Jeane on Amazon

Review:

Loved the book as it transported me to the 1950’s. I have not lived in that era but reading this book made me appreciate the era my parents grew up in, and I could relate some of the descriptions in the book to the experiences that my parents have shared with me before.

The main character in this book, Darla, deals with the death of her mother by falling back to the things that she loves in life, and one of them is Marilyn Monroe. The adventure with Norma Jeane (Marilyn) begins when Darla went in search of her missing dog and bumps into Norma driving a car with the number plate “1954”. This is when Darla travels time backward and brings us all along the journey.

I love the way Darla channels her focus on the things that she loves when facing the adversity of life.

A 5 star for this book.