Book Review: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark


They were just kids, barely not teenagers, madly in love and wanting to be a family, but WW2 got in their way. Three hundred ten days before Pearl Harbor, buck private Dean Sherman innocently went to church with a new friend in Salt Lake City. From that moment, the unsuspecting soldier travelled a remarkable, heroic path, falling in love, graduating from demanding training to become a B29 pilot, conceiving a son and entering the China, Burma and India theater of the WW2. He chronicled his story with letters home to his bride Connie that he met on that fateful Sunday, blind to the fact that fifteen hundred seventy-five days after their meeting, a Japanese swordsman would end his life. His crew, a gaggle of Corporals that dubbed themselves the Corporalies, four officers and a tech Sargent, adventured their way across the globe. Flying the “Aluminum Trail” also called the Hump through the Himalayas, site of the most dangerous flying in the world. Landing in China to refuel and then fly on to places like Manchuria, Rangoon or even the most southern parts of Japan to drop 500 pounders. Each mission had its challenges, minus fifty-degree weather in Mukden, or Japanese fighters firing away at them, a close encounter of the wrong kind, nearly missing a collision with another B29 while flying in clouds, seeing friends downed and lost because of “mechanicals,” the constant threat of running out of fuel and their greatest fear, engine fire. Transferred to the Mariana Islands, he and his crew were shot down over Nagoya, Japan as part of Mission 174, captured and declared war criminals. Connie’s letters reveal life for a brand-new mother whose husband is declared MIA. The agony for both of them; he in a Japanese prison, declared a war criminal, and she just not knowing why his letters stopped coming. Lilliyana Shadowlyn’s review: This was an amazing book. This isn’t a look at war through rose colored glasses, but one that shows the reader what life was like for people from many backgrounds. A soldier, his love left behind on the home front, and those that were considered the enemy at the time. This was an intimate story that doesn’t focus only on the war and pulls the reader in quickly and easily. Historical fiction lovers, those with an interest in war history, and anyone just looking to take a few steps back in time will greatly enjoy reading this. Another reviewer explains: “I am a fan of historical fiction and this story did not disappoint. It was sweet, tragic, personal, and moving. Gradually and almost imperceptibly, the story of two wartime sweethearts begins circling the drain of a tragedy you know is coming. The book begins with the ending, but by the time you get there you have convinced yourself that it can’t possibly be the case. I enjoyed every moment, even the ones that left me in tears. The letters between Connie and Dean provided a fascinating glimpse into wartime life. Reading the experiences of people both at home and abroad was very engaging. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter, right along with the young couple! Lastly, the book left me with an overwhelming acknowledgement of the universal trauma and tragedy of war. The Sherman’s are not the only family we meet in the book and the weaving together of several different narratives added a depth to the story that’s hard to put into words. I definitely encourage anyone to read this book, especially if historical novels are not something you typically read. This is a story about people and you won’t want it to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


If you love reading stories from the past and those on wars, you will enjoy this story. I love how the letters between Connie and Dean depict the love between them, the losses, yearnings and hard time during war. The letters are the real letters the couple sent to each other during the war. A mix between fictional story and true events based on research, this story hooks readers of the modern world, especially in the post
pandemic time, when we have gone through separation and pain, that can evoke the emotions people would have felt back in World War 2. It also beautifully depicts the challenges soldiers go through in their
daily lives, one that is full of emotional pain and the anxiousness in not knowing what is to come next in life, given the uncertain nature of war. As Connie becomes a mother, her husband goes through a difficult time and the letter exchange between them abruptly stops. This is when the readers are brought into a real emotional roller coaster.

Book Review: José and the Pirate Captain Toledano

Set in the shadows of the Spanish Inquisition, this is the coming-of-age story of José Alfaro, a young refugee who forms a powerful bond with the mysterious Pirate Captain Toledano. It’s also a dynamic pirate adventure on the high seas, with hand-to-hand combat and ship-to-ship action, and the powerful story of a dark time in history when people took different paths to survive.

José Alfaro is a cocky, rambunctious teen in the 16th-century colony of Santo Domingo, pulling pranks and dodging the authorities. One day, José’s mischief lands him in serious trouble.

Hoping for a fresh start, he stows away on the Laqish, not knowing that it’s a pirate ship. From his hiding place, he watches the pirates divide their loot and plan their attacks on long days at sea. He also takes note of the respect they have for their captain, the intimidating Toledano.

But the captain has a secret―like José, he is a Jew. For him, piracy is not about the gold; it has a different purpose.

Under the tutelage of the ship’s quartermaster, José learns the intricacies of pirate life. But when he can, the captain finds ways to pull José away from the crew, to teach him about his ancestors.

José finds his community. His place. His voice. His purpose.

This is a pirate story, but also a story of survival―a story of a young man’s deep need to know who he is, where he comes from, and where he’s going.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great read for kids who love reading about pirates and histories. I think it is suitable for older school kids due to the length of the book, which is close to 100 pages, but it has interesting illustrations to keep the kids invested in the reading process right until the end. I love how the author has chosen to explain about the Jewish culture in ways that kids would understand and this is an excellent way to introduce cultures to kids. If you are Jewish or would want to expose your kids to new culture, this is an excellent read.

Remembering You: A Novel Inspired by True Events by Anthony Jordan

Hi, I’m Anthony Jordan. As a young child, I enjoyed and played a variety of sports. And as a young adult, I still enjoy sports, and being a coach has been one of the things that brought me joy. I’ve always had a passion for writing, although I didn’t know it would lead me down this current path, especially because I acquired my degree in business management. As a young adult, the challenges I have experienced in recent years have increased my desire to share my experiences to inspire and encourage others. My new novel ‘Remembering You’ was born out of my tremendous grief of losing my fiancé and a desire to bring self-healing. My new direction is to continue writing, doing philanthropy work, traveling the world, and sharing my experiences.


Facing one setback after another, Jordan, known as ‘J’ in this novel, finds himself confronted with the past showing up in his present life in a way that shattered his life into pieces.

J takes you on a journey of life still in the game based on true events of failures, trauma, love, and tragic loss, and the will to self-reflect to find one’s passion.

There were many coffee visits to my mother’s house, but one turned out to be one I would never forget. Mid conversation, I stopped to show my mom a funny meme from a social media platform when a post in my feed made my stomach drop. Confused, I saw a picture of my fiancé, Angelica, with a black ribbon on the side of the picture.

“WTF?!” was all I could think. In disbelief, I went to Angelica’s page and saw multiple posts saying she was gone, no longer on this Earth.

Four days had passed without any communication between the two of us. The last time we spoke was via text message while attending a football game with my father. We had moments when we would give each other space, but this silence was different. To randomly find out why she was not responding to my daily messages was that she was dead? A gulp trickled to my heart. Though I struggled to breathe, I covered my mouth, trying to make sense of this image.

How could this be?
What happened to her?
Who can I speak with to confirm if this post is true?

Six months before our wedding, she was gone. The woman I had fallen in love with, the one that brought me light and joy, had left me standing in my mother’s kitchen heartbroken and confused about what caused her death.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

A painful read right from the first page as I got reminded of my friend’s death that came through my social media feed a few years ago, leaving me confused and dejected. I could relate to the sudden death and getting to know it through social media. J shared a very meaningful connection with Angelica and I could feel his emotions and love that he had for her in this book. It leaves me feeling sad and painful for the author for having lost his girlfriend. What left me feeling confused is how a person can camouflage pain despite seeming to be doing good on the outside. Nevertheless, I am happy for J for having met Angelica in his life and for having shared a love that is deep enough for him to carry through his life.

Book Review: Mom of Two – Study case: Erik and gluten-free life at 3 years old

Catalina brought us along to walk down the memory lane, as she struggled with her toddler who is gluten intolerant and how she found ways that worked for her in replacing gluten products in the home and family meals, and how they had to avoid restaurants that are not catering to the needs of Erik’s diet. I do believe that this book provides an overview of what parents should be aware of when they have kids needing special diet, not just in terms of the dietary needs but also the mental preparation that parents can expect along the way.

Book Review: Never Quit Climbing by Gary Sinclair

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I like how Gary brings us with his climbing journeys, relate them with his own personal struggles and suggests how those challenges and key takeaway messages can be incorporated into our lives, no matter what we are going through. I personally feel that Gary’s love for climbing teaches him to embrace the uncertainties in life and that trains him to feel comfortable with challenges. I think it is an excellent way of looking at toughening ourselves up by being open to carrying out difficult activities in life as it gives a feedback to our body of what we are capable of handling in life.

A great read and I enjoyed reading this book.

Book Review: Time and the Tree by Róisín Sorahan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Róisín very creatively weaved a story filled with interesting characters that teach important life lessons. The Time and the Tree has two important characters in it, The Boy and Time. The character development adds to the whimsical plot and lyrical writing, .making readers feel like they are reliving the experiences reading Aesop’s Fables.

The Time and The Tree mostly has healthy arguments on life, making readers ponder upon their own lives. I felt like I was watching an animated movie with these characters breathing life to the story. If you have been struggling with life, especially in this post pandemic world, this book will encourage you to relook at life from an honest point of view, and help you live a truthful life.

Book Review: YOU Are A Great Story by Adam Loosley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great bedtime read for young kids aged 3 to 10, especially during post-Covid times when children are spending more time than ever at home with their parents, and as adults deal with the challenges borught about by the virus, we need to keep an uplifting environment at home, and this book helps doing just that.

You Are a Great Story encourages kids to create their own adventure and it encourages kids to develop their self-worth. A very worthy book that contains 36 pages full of illustrations, that attracts kids for reading.

Book Review: Attitude of Gratitude: 30-Day Gratitude Journal

Start each day with gratitude. This is a self-exploration journal, designed to make you feel more thankful and build a new outlook on life. Each day dedicate some time to self-reflect and check in with yourself.

  • 30-Day Gratitude Journal
  • Gratitude Daily Habits
  • Explore Self-Reflective Questions
  • Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great 30-day gratitude journal that helps to develop the attitude to practice gratitude. A pretty book that makes you want to look forward to spending time for self-reflection. The writing prompts include:

1. Name three things you are grateful for today.
2. Use the emoji’s below to rate your level of happiness.
3. Use the space below to reflect on your day. What went well? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting kickstart their journaling habit in a sustainable manner.

Book Review by Jas: Square Up: 50,000 Miles in Search of a Way Home by Lisa A Dailey

Have you ever wished you could run away and leave your life behind? Born on the “Day of the Wanderer,” Lisa Dailey has always been filled with wanderlust. Although she and her husband had planned to take their family on a ’round-the-world adventure, she didn’t expect their plans to come together on the heels of grief, after losing seven family members in five years. Square Up shows us that travel not only helps us understand and appreciate other cultures, but invites us to find compassion and wisdom, heal from our losses, and discover our capacity for forgiveness, as well as joy.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lisa Dailey started travelling with her family after losing 7 loved ones in only a 5-year period. She started the journey with her husband and two sons after quite a bit of contemplation, due to her grieving and anxiety. The family cover many months of travel from one country to another, some without pre-planning and with little preparation. Part of the reason they couldn’t pre-plan all of their travel is because they travel mostly via miliary air travel, as her husband is in the military. Along the way, her husband reminds her to trust “The Force” and over time, Lisa begins to trust The Force that is taking care of her and her family. She also learns to deal with the grieving better. |She learned to reassure herself that she will find her way back to herself. I like how the visit to a temple in Singapore was an eye-opener in Lisa’s life, and many other visits taught her invaluable life lessons. The family also educated their children on life as a whole, and their experience is something we all could relate to, especially when we are missing travels post Covid.

A live interview of Lisa is coming up on the 6th of Feb on Facebook. Watch out this space

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.