Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review The Vineyard

?????????????????????????????????????????????Title: The Vineyard

Author: Michael Hurley

Genre: Literary Fiction

From Michael Hurley, winner of the Somerset Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.

Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher known only as “the fisherman” threatens to change everything they believe about their world–and each other.

“Hurley writes beautifully,” says Kirkus Reviews, “especially when describing island and nautical life.” Publishers Weekly praises “his well-crafted prose.”

Three women who haven’t seen each other since their college years, meet up again for a reunion, and agree to spend a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. They’ve changed quite a lot from their college years though, and they have to come to terms with those changes in themselves, and in the others.

They encounter a reclusive poacher called “the fisherman”, who threatens to change everything they ever believed in, about the world, about each other, about themselves. The author uses haunting, lyrical prose to sketch the lives of the women, to make them come alive on the pages. Very impressive.

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Book Review The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

21247087Title: The Luddite’s Guide to Technology

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: creative non-fiction / religion and spirituality / technology – social aspects

Mammon, as it is challenged in the Sermon on the Mount, represents such wealth and possessions as one could have two thousand years ago. But that is merely beer as contrasted to the eighty proof whisky our day has concocted. The Sermon on the Mount aims to put us in the driver’s seat and not what you could possess in ancient times, and if the Sermon on the Mount says something about metaphorical beer, perhaps there are implications for an age where something more like eighty proof whisky is all around us.

CJS Hayward has written a collection of essays, articles, prayers and even sometimes satirical commentaries on the topic of religion and spirituality, and in particular the connection between religion and technology.

The book gives a critical look into wealth and possessions, and how important they really are. It compares what it said in the old testament, duringthe Sermon on the Mount, and re-evaluates that for the modern era.

An interesting book, and quite enjoyable. Some of the articles and prayers were better than others, but overall the quality was consistent.

Book Review The Best of Jonathan’s Corner

the-best-of-jonathans-corner-front-coverTitle: The Best of Jonathan’s Corner

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: Creative non-fiction / many genres / religion and spirituality / Eastern Orthodox

The Best of Jonathan’s Corner, newly expanded ​ after getting five star reviews​, is a collection of varied works of Eastern Orthodox mystical theology. It spans many topics and many different genres of writing, but it keeps coming back to the biggest questions of all. It is inexhaustible: the works are independent, and you can read a few, many, or all of them to suit your taste. Fans of CS Lewis and GK Chesterton will love it.

Let me start by saying it’s a long book. Reading it all at once, I wouldn’t recommend. You need to take your time with this, go at a slow pace, discover what is being said and what is not being said. You could also just pick out an essay that grabs your interest and read that one, rather than all of them at once.

That said, I felt enlightened when I finished reading. Mr. Hayward and I don’t agree on everything, but he makes some valid points, and he has a way of talking to the reader that doesn’t make them feel put down (like some non-fiction authors seem to have the habit of doing).

Keep an open mind while reading, and appreciate the logic behind the author’s reasoning, and you’ll probably enjoy this book. I enjoyed it, in any case.

Book Review Matt Monroe and The Secret Society

16143802Title: Matt Monroe and The Secret Society

Author:  Edward Torba

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy / Mystery

Purchase: Amazon

Matt Monroe and The Secret Society is the first book in a series about a fourteen-year-old boy and his friends. In this first installment, Matt puts aside his fears as he travels to a same-time dimension to fulfill a prophecy. The saga begins when Matt finds a set of mysterious wooden tablets and an onyx ring. Soon he and his older brother, along with five friends, find themselves transported to the world of Paragon, where they face numerous obstacles. This is an account of deception and betrayal, mixed with courage and the bonds of friendship. Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure with an extraordinary ending. The second book in the series, Matt Monroe and The Haunted House, continues the story of these courage young teens.

Matt Monroe is just like every other fourteen year old boy: careless, ready for adventure, and brave enough to fight the good fight. When strange lights appear in town, all the town’s kids know something is up. Some suspects it’s aliens, others think it’s ghosts, everyone has their own theory.

But that’s not the only weird thing happening in town. A strange creature finds its way into Matt’s parents’ barn, and tries to steal a box that belonged to Matt’s great grandfather. When Matt touches the box, two tablets fall out.

He finds out his parents, along with several other dentists, are part of a secret society to save the world from an elf named Damien, who turned evil hundreds of years ago, and ever since wants to destroy the world. The prophecy says a chosen one will be picked, and he will be able to read the tablets. Unfortunately, that role falls on Matt.

Having to perform a leading role, with not his own life at stake, but that of many others, Matt travels to another dimension where he meets elves, tooth fairies and lots more.

The great part about this book was how it was inspired by dentists, and there was a fantasy world build around dentists, the tooth fairy, etc. That was an unique concept, and I really liked it. It surprised me.

Matt had an okay personality, but I actually liked his brother Josh more. The bond between the brothers was strong, and I like books with good sibling dynamics, so that’s another bonus.

The only downside to the book, is the large amount of characters, which means we get tons of characters who are one-dimensional, and who only seem to be thrown in to get to the number of seven to partake on the quest. They all play their part, sure, but we get to know little of their personality.

Book Review From Frights to Flaws by Sunayna Prasad

FromFrightsToFlaws_SC-13-05-101Title: Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 1, From Frights to Flaws

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: MG Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy can no longer stand the toughness of her uncle and wants a better life. But one day she discovers not only the existence of magic, but also a villain hunting her down. The villain uses magic and magical technology to kidnap Alyssa to the Fiji Islands. As much as she wants to go home, she has to face some dangerous challenges first. Not only that, the villain himself must also be defeated. Can Alyssa succeed, even with the help of her mentors?

Magic and mayhem ensure in this delightful read by author Sunayna Prasad. Alyssa McCarthy has led a tough life. After her parents passed away, she came to live with her aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, after her aunt passed away as well, her uncle turned into a very tough, difficult man. He even takes Alyssa and her cousin out of school and has them homeshooled. I kind of get where the uncle is coming from, but he was still mean.

When a magical statue appears, warning Alyssa of what is to come and an evil wizard trying to kidnap her, her uncle doesn’t believe her. But then Alyssa gets kidnapped into a magical world where she’ll have to fight said wizard to escape…

The writing is great for middle graders, and the story very enjoyable. A nice, short read.

Book Review The Rising Wind

The Rising Wind Cover final - CopyTitle: The Rising Wind

Author: Ken Floro III

Genre: Fantasy / Adventure

Have you ever dreamed of being swept into adventure alongside a dashing knight or two? Would you be outraged if you were suddenly thrust into terrifying dangers against your will? What if you found yourself trapped on a cursed island, in the middle of a haunted sea, surrounded by your worst enemies? When a conniving treasure-hunter hijacks the Rising Wind, its passengers will find themselves facing all this and more!

The same trick didn’t work a third time. When Marc stepped into the ring of firelight and shouted a challenge, his adversaries shrank into the shadows across from him – more cautious now than they had been earlier. Their broad limbs and hulking silhouettes prowled the darkness at the edge of the forest, disguising their numbers. Standing exposed, in the open clearing, Marc felt vulnerable, but he knew he couldn’t run. For an anxious moment, he just stood there, uncertain what to do next. The curse of inexperience was lack of foresight, and Marc hadn’t stopped to calculate an alternative in case his original plan failed. Now he had to think on the spot. Unfortunately the present circumstance was no place for contemplation. So, in that dangerous moment, he acted on instinct.

How many cursed islands have I read about before in my life? I think about a dozen. Ken Floro III handles his cursed island extremely well though in this exciting fantasy adventure.

A crew of sailors (well, most of them are anything but regular sailors, but lets call them that) sets shore on a cursed island, and must learn to set their differences aside in order to survive. There’s more hiding on this island than one would think at first glance.

An interesting, well-written fantasy novel for those who like mythology, the ancient Roman empire (fantasy world is inspired by the empire) and who enjoy action-packed stories with paranormal twists.

Book Review: The Exemeus

front__cover_imageTitle: The Exemeus

Authors: Folami and Abeni Morris

Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

Website, Amazon and B&N

Hyalee Smith is dead, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her short life was devoted to love and to hate. Love of the man who stole her heart, hate for the man who stole the world. Murdered by the government she swore to destroy, fate has given her another chance to make it right. But to save the planet, she needs the help of the most powerful mystic the world has ever seen—unfortunately he hasn’t been born yet.

In a world where fear is the only currency, Dephon has committed the ultimate crime: inspiring hope.

His only goal is to make it safely through ninth grade, but on a post-apocalyptic Earth run by the Treptonian government, it isn’t that simple. Heir to a legendary power, Dephon Johnson is the only threat to the government’s rule. And on Trepton, all threats must be eliminated. When hundreds of assassins are dispatched to neutralize him, Dephon is forced to fight back. His only chance of survival is to enlist the aid of the greatest warrior the world has ever known. The only problem is, she’s been dead for 13 years.

I loved this book. Seriously. I loved the character dynamics, their personalities, the world-building, the plot. As long as it involved Hyalee, that is. I had a much harder time with the other characters, particularly Dephon. But Hyalee? She’s pretty much the ideal mix of kick-ass and emotional. I also loved the setting. Although it’s dystopian, the main focus is on the fantasy setting with magic and prophecies, and I liked the mix of both. It was pleasant and fresh and enjoyable.

The idea of The Exemeus itself was pretty awesome too, as it allowed for two stories to be told in one book. While I enjoyed the parts about Hyalee the most, I did find Dephon was a ‘pretty okay’ character as well, and of course I have to applaud a male protagonist.

The only thing I can complain about was the book’s length. While it never felt particularly long, and the plot didn’t drag, the book was a wopping 500+ pages, and in retrospect, they could’ve easily cut some pages and dialogue. That aside, I very much enjoyed this clash of science and magic, and Hyalee now holds a special place in my heart. She’s an amazing character.