THE COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS by Shutao Liao



THE COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS by Shutao Liao
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Poetry
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The poet found himself retreating to his own lodge as an observer after long tedious travel, writing down everything across his mind, to reveal a splendor of romantic emotions as well as a profound sense of beauty throughout the words between the lines.

An intimate journey to the kingdom of self salvation.

How does one live a good life? One answer to that question is buried in this book.

Many of these poems explored the differences between outward appearances and what is actually happening in someone’s heart and mind. For example, one poem warned readers not to be distracted by physical beauty because that is no guarantee that a person’s soul is also beautiful. I enjoyed taking note of the various approaches to this topic that were used and how each one illuminated things from another angle. This subject has been covered in poetry many times before, of course, but I thought the author did a good job of explaining why he thought it was crucial to separate what someone looks like from who they are on the inside.

My only piece of constructive criticism for these poems has to do with who the speakers were of them were supposed to be. Some poems had such similar voices that I was almost certain they were written from the perspective of the same character. On the other hand, there were other entries that were so wildly different in their tone and use of language that I couldn’t imagine they were from the same speaker. I’ve enjoyed collections that were written from many different voices as well as ones that were created to sound like the same person or small group of people were talking to the audience throughout them. If I’d known which way I should interpret this book, I would have happily gone with a higher rating.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this collection was how conversational and important it felt. Even though I’ve never met the author and was a brand new reader of his work, I still felt as though we were sitting in a quiet coffee shop somewhere talking about all sorts of meaningful topics. That is not an easy thing to accomplish by any means, but it’s something I enjoy being surprised by in this genre or any other. There is nothing like getting a friendly peek at someone else’s soul which was exactly what happened here.

THE COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS was a thought-provoking read.

Escorting Daddy’s Billionaire Best Friend by Lacy Rider


Escorting Daddy’s Billionaire Best Friend by Lacy Rider
Submitting to Daddy’s Billionaire Best Friend, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Just one night, that’s all…

I can’t believe what I’d just agreed to. I’ve always been supportive of Stella being an escort; after all, she can do whatever wants to make money. I just never thought I’d go as far as filling in for her.

But, she’s assured me that I just need to be his arm candy for one night. Nothing more is expected. Then, I’ll get a big payday that I desperately need.

When my cab pulls up outside a hotel owned by my father’s filthy rich best friend, everything changes. What would I do if he caught me here, dressed like this?

Tonight, I’ll be submitting to a forbidden billionaire…

Hot, jarring and dangerous.

I picked this book up on a lark. It looked hot and might be fun for a short read. It was interesting, to say the least.

This is told in first person, and it was nice to get both points of view, but this is entirely too short. I have no idea much of the background of the characters. I barely knew what they looked like. I will say the chemistry between them is good, but it’s so quick. I didn’t form much of an emotional bond with them. I wish I’d have known what made them tick. I get that it’s a short story, so I went along for the ride. I also have to add that I was a bit shocked by how fast things progressed. It’s the high heat kind of story, so there’s that and it delivered. It was scorching. It’s also a cliff-hanger, which could be a turn-off to some readers. It worked for me as I wanted a morsel story, not a full novel.

If you’re looking for something hot and about a half-hour read, then this might be the one for you. I see there are more books in the series, and it would be nice to get to know these characters more, so I’d encourage reading those next. I will be.

*Love Me Like You Do by Erika Kelly


*Love Me Like You Do by Erika Kelly
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

How did the hottest hockey player in the NHL wind up braiding hair and hosting tea parties?

Because someone was foolish enough to name him co-guardian of their children. That’s how.

Cole Montgomery’s living his best life–until he gets a call from an attorney letting him know he’s been entrusted with the care of two little girls. He can’t imagine why anyone would think he was a good role model. He can’t even keep a plant alive.

Lingerie designer Hailey Casselton grew up with a free-spirited mother. So, when she finds out she’s the temporary co-guardian to two children, she’s determined to give them the best Christmas they’ve ever had. Unfortunately, she has to live with the jerk from high school who ruined her senior year.

But she gets a glimpse of the man behind Cole’s larger-than-life persona, and she likes what she sees. He might be used to living for himself, but he works hard to change his ways and meet the needs of these lost and scared girls. It doesn’t take long for her to enter dangerous territory–falling for a guy who’s never going to settle down.

Except…as much as Cole keeps saying he can’t wait to get his freedom back…he can’t deny these girls–and okay, even Hailey–have become the very best part of his life.

And he’s not quite sure what to do about that.

Erika Kelly is one of my favorite authors because she knows how to paint a picture. In her newest book, Love Me Like You Do, she writes an emotional story about two people going through some heartbreaking circumstances and falling in love along the way.

I loved reading Cole and Hailey’s story. They knew each other in high school and circumstances brought them back together again. Cole and Hailey have to deal with tough issues and make difficult decisions, not only about their lives, but the two little girls that have been entrusted into their care.

Cole and Hailey are both careful with their hearts. They yearn for a home and family, something neither one of them grew up with. The small town of Calamity is the perfect place for them both to heal, love and live.

Cole is a professional hockey player whose whole life revolves around hockey, and he is shocked when he discovers his best friend has died and left him in charge of his two daughters. Cole is such a great guy; he deserves to have everything. He is successful and charming, yet he is insecure when it comes to Hailey. Cole loves everything about Hailey, but she is clueless.

Hailey is working every waking minute trying to make it as a designer in New York when she rushes back to Calamity after being told she is now co guardian of two little girls.

Cole and Hailey have unresolved issues from the past that they slowly resolve as they spend time together. They are perfect for each other, and I easily fell into this wonderful story and kept reading because I needed to know what would happen next. I highly recommend this one.

A School of Daughters by Kate René MacKenzie


A School of Daughters by Kate René MacKenzie
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

It’s funny how things sneak up on you…

Kate Willoughby is a champion for throwaways—discarded dogs and cats, abandoned horses bound for slaughter, and all creatures great and small. But now it’s Kate who’s alone in a hostile world like a dog dumped by the side of a road. Is there a champion for Kate?

After 22 years of marriage, Kate loves her husband, Brian, with an even greater passion than when she spoke her vows. “My world spins on his axis,” she often says. But when Kate finds a love letter to Brian from Micky, she’s torn between proving Brian’s innocence and nailing him to the wall with his guilt.

Throughout her marriage, Kate has been trusting and trustworthy —to a fault, friends have said. Now, she steals into Brian’s emails and accesses his credit card accounts, phone records, bank statements, friends and activities, discovering the metaphoric iceberg beneath Brian’s affair.

Turning to the one constant in her life, Kate is guided by her family of animals: shelter dog Molly; Premarin horse Quinn; packrat Winston; owls Albert & Victoria; Stubby, the chipmunk; rattlesnake Cassandra; and Phineas, the determined grosbeak. These wise and wonderful teachers, along with a wild menagerie on her Arizona ranch, deliver lessons on life, love, and letting go. But it’s Molly, in a heartbreaking act of courage, who leads Kate back to her true self, before she became lost in love with Brian.

Shining a light on the childhood events and adult choices that, like steppingstones, brought her to this moment, Kate illuminates a familiar and well-worn path. Narrating her story with equal doses of heartache and humor, Kate comes to understand that nothing sneaks up on you that isn’t already here. Learning from Phineas, the determined grosbeak, Kate realizes that even after a devastating injury, you can soar again.

A School of Daughters is a beautifully written, lyrical book that delves into the heart of the main character, highlighting how her current life is rooted in her past, from childhood abuse to the desperate desire for stability at nearly any cost. There is truth here that shines through, and I admire the author for taking her life and sharing it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This story hit me hard, in a good way. I was completely engrossed in the story and could see myself and friends in similar situations. Even after finishing the book, I could not stop thinking about Kate, what she was going through, and how her friends and, especially, the animals in her life not only helped her through the pain, but also taught her important life lessons.

The book skips back and forth from present day to situations in her past with not only her husband, but her childhood, other romantic relationships, and with different animals in her life. It is a revealing look on how a person can be strong and yet still give up parts of herself without even realizing it.

Her journey was heartrending, yet the reader is, in the end, left with a sense of hope that Kate will make it through to the other side. Kudos, Ms. MacKenzie. I will definitely be on the lookout for other books by this author.

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The Akseli by Dianne Duvall, Kirsten Potter (Narrator)


The Akseli by Dianne Duvall, Kirsten Potter (Narrator)
Aldebarian Alliance, Book 4
Publisher: Self-Published, Tantor Audio (Publisher)
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Simone has hunted and slain psychotic vampires night after night for hundreds of years and desperately needs a change. When the leader of the Immortal Guardians offers her an opportunity to guard ten mortal women who are venturing to another planet, she dives right in and finds traveling into space and meeting amazing alien races just as exciting as she’d hoped… until an enemy attacks. Simone saves everyone she can before she’s thrust into an escape pod and the ship explodes. Alone, fearing some—if not all—of her friends have been killed, she vows to seek vengeance.

Despite his fierce reputation and propensity for violating the law, Janwar has formed a friendship with strait-laced Prince Taelon of Lasara. When the prince’s ship is destroyed, Janwar joins the massive Aldebarian Alliance-wide search and rescue mission and soon locates the Gathendien ship that launched the attack. An odd thing happens, however, as he and his crew stealthily approach it. The lifeforms inside begin to perish, two or three at a time in quick succession. Much to his surprise, someone else has reached the ship first: one of the very Earth women he hoped to rescue.

Fascinatingly fierce, Simone bands together with Janwar and his crew to search for her missing friends and wreak havoc upon those who wish to harm them. She also widens eyes, drops jaws, and sparks laughter and mischief as she banishes the warriors’ world-weariness and makes each day seem like a new adventure. The friendship that grows between Janwar and Simone swiftly deepens into love. But the enemy warriors they face are tenacious and boast more weapons in their arsenal than the alliance knows. Can Janwar, Simone, and such a small crew vanquish them?

Looking for an edge-of-your-seat, romantic suspense, sci-fi adventure that will knock your socks off? The Akseli is definitely the book to check out. There are space battles, sword fights, alien monsters, narrow escapes, action behind enemy lines on an ice planet, an A.I. program that can actually be considered a secondary character, and a romance that made my little heart go pitter-patter.

That list is only a tiny fraction of what made this story stand out as it amazed and enthralled me and had me listening to the audio version twice – some scenes, thrice. Lest a reader worry that it’s all flash-bang action, I assure you that there are tender moments, sweet moments, character dialogue that made me sniffle and my heart hurt for some of the guys in the scenes. Janwar’s crew each have their own story, and I will tell you, every single one needs their own HEA. You want tortured heroes? Men who’ve been hurt, scorned, made examples of and treated as pariahs by either their culture or their families? My heart broke for each of these brave men that Janwar now calls family. They all have good hearts, are actually noble and, even having chosen an unorthodox career in order to survive, have resisted becoming villains and instead kept their honor and are fiercely loyal to Janwar and to each other. How could the heroine NOT fall in love with Janwar and his ‘family’?

The Gathendiens are back being their dastardly, disgusting, vile, smelly selves – they are the perfect villains. They hate everyone and are bent on genocide towards any civilized planet that has something that they want. And they are not the only characters with defunct moral compasses – a reader finds out there are more deviant, greedy, power-hungry beings that will do anything for power and/or money. One of them reminds me of a character from the second set of Star Wars movies, and the other, is too close to a real-life villain. But I won’t go there. This novel is about a hero and heroine who defy and overcame incredible odds, all in order to rescue victims and friends from evil aliens. The story is about Janwar and Simone falling in love even while in the thick of things. It’s about a man who becomes better, stronger, more focused and more heroic all because of the love of a strong woman with a zest for life and adventure. It’s about acceptance, embracing differences and finding common goals. All of that is woven in throughout the novel with excellent storytelling skill.

If fans listen to the audio version, they are in for an experience of delight, entertainment, laughter and being 100% engaged and invested in every character’s wellbeing. The narrating talent of Ms. Potter is second to none. Each character has their own voice and Ms. Potter uses her voice skills flawlessly. I’ve yet to experience another narrator with her consistent range and ability to express emotions only through voice. Yes, the writing has to have it first, and it does, but the narration explodes the story into brilliant life. It’s one of the reasons that, when it comes to Ms. Duvall’s books, I purchase them in all three formats, audio, print and ebook. I’m always so satisfied, I find it well worth the investment.

The Akseli is a star-quality novel that gives readers a top-notch reading experience that thrills and entertains non-stop, all the way to the perfect and romantic happy ever after ending, with an irresistible hook for the next adventure in the series. Sign me up! I simply can’t get enough of this wonderful universe Ms. Duvall has created through the Aldebarian Alliance. It’s a book addiction worth having.

The Life We Dream Of by Jennifer Leigh Pezzano


The Life We Dream Of by Jennifer Leigh Pezzano
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“Numb. That’s what I had been. That’s what I had always been. Impassively navigating through my life like a habit I could not define. A deep dreamless sleep I stumbled through. And I suddenly wanted to wake up.”

Diagnosed with an incurable cancer, Julia is forced to come to terms with a life largely unlived. Haunted by past trauma and regrets she cannot amend, she has built a wall around herself, insulating her from the world.

But when a chance meeting breaks down her barriers, Julia begins the process of letting life back in, taking her on a journey toward love, self-discovery, and a daughter she never knew. Will she be able to fully make peace with her tangled past and confront all the pain buried beneath the rubble?

The Life We Dream Of is a love story about second chances, overcoming fear, and the boldness one must summon to find healing within.

Healing comes in many forms.

I must admit that it took me a little while to warm up to Julia because of how closed off she was to the world around her and how much she resisted anything that might reveal the deepest parts of her personality. One of the wonderful things about character development is how it can affect the reader’s opinion of a character as that character grows and changes throughout the course of the plot. My first impression of Julia was wildly different from what I thought of her after I finished the final scene, and I tip my cap to the author for digging into the protagonist’s life so deeply that it could produce such a change in my opinions.

The romantic storyline was handled perfectly. Julia and her love interest were both people who had excellent reasons to believe that romance was no longer something meant for them, the least of which were the serious health diagnoses that were threatening their lives. I appreciated how much effort Ms. Pezzano put into exploring why these characters had shut the door on falling in love again as well as why they both decided that it might be worth exploring after all.

Some books have writing styles that are as smooth as butter, and this was one of them. There wasn’t a single thing I’d recommend changing about the way this was written. I laughed, cried, and felt swells of many other emotions cresting over me, too, as I read it. This was even more true as the ending loomed and I knew I had to say goodbye to these characters soon.

The Life We Dream Of was a beautifully satisfying read.

Vestige of Hope by Sara Blackard


Vestige of Hope by Sara Blackard
Vestige in Time Series, Book 2
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Historical, Inspirational, Paranormal
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A special ops soldier in a situation he’s untrained for. A woman struggling just to survive. When dangerous enemies won’t relent, will they find hope in each other and overcome the threats?

Thrown out of his element into a time not his own, Hunter must overcome his doubts to save the life he never knew he wanted.

Soldier, Hunter Bennet, is always in control…
…control of his missions.
…control of his life.
…control of his emotions.
Until he hesitates on a rescue mission, which leaves a child orphaned and his brothers-in-arms in peril. Chased by the demons of failure, he falls into a time and place where he has no control.

When her world begins to fall apart, Viola finds help in the most unexpected person.

Viola Thomas’s idyllic life in the new state of Colorado is in turmoil. Her father fails to return from winter trapping, and a stranger tumbles into her life from the future. When an unwanted suitor turns his advances into threats, everything she holds dear is at risk. Can she find hope in a man from a world far from her own?

Hunter must reach through the shadows of doubt to save his future, but will he fail in the most important mission of all?

Have you ever read a book because of another book? I read Discovering Rafe a while back and I mentioned in my review that I really needed to ‘meet’ Hunter, their fellow soldier who kept up their morale with biblical wisdoms during stressful missions. Well, I did it. I found Vestige of Hope and get this, it’s a time travel Christian romance series! Who ever heard of such a thing? Not me. Not until I started reading Ms. Blackard’s books. I’m not fond of time travel stories but the reason and methodology that accomplished the time travel simply blew my mind. Not only that, but it made sense. Like, it could happen, even now! Yeah, I sat back and blinked a few times when I read that section. The fact that I could conceive such a thing as possible, based on a couple of tiny sentences in the Bible, and add in the faith one would need to believe? That just sent my brain into a spin of wonder. So very cool.

Now that I got that amazing nugget out of way, I can get to the fun stuff – the romance. Hunter is about as good a hero as the books in the other series led me to believe. He’s honorable, smart, mostly in excellent physical condition, and he defines the word, hero. Now, I say mostly excellent health because he had a bit of a run-in with a wild cat. He’s at a disadvantage for a good portion of the book because of his injuries, but that made me like his character all the more. He’s not an over-the-top super man with Jackie Chan reflexes, a Chuck Norris attitude and a Captain America complex…although there was a scene or two that led me to believe he might have had the sculpted body of Captain America…that was a nice bit of info. But his drive to protect the women who save him, one being Viola, the heroine, is what I liked because Hunter wasn’t overbearing or demeaning. He didn’t talk down to them just because he was a soldier from the future, and they were backwoods women from the more primitive past in our country. In fact, Viola and her sister, Beatrice, were more than capable of taking care of themselves, and that includes hunting for food. Watching Hunter come to terms with the reality that he truly did travel back in time, was entertaining and interesting. It was kind of fun seeing Viola and Beatrice’s reactions when he respected their skills and the knowledge both women had. They didn’t expect that from a man; it was almost unheard of.

Like I said, the two sisters could take care of themselves, but they usually didn’t have to. They had their father and brother to help out. Except, something bad happened and they were left to handle things on their own. You know what that means, right? Plot conflict. A woman alone is considered “easy pickins’ and an onery villain has the clever idea that he can force Viola to marry him, thereby gaining the farm and all the land. What he didn’t expect to find was, Hunter. Ooh, the classic scenario, and very satisfying to read.

I did say this was an inspirational romance, too, right? Hunter’s relationship with God is a tangible thing. It’s important to him as a man, and actually pertains to a lot that goes on in the novel. It’s not preachy, it shows how strength can come from faith, even in the worst-case scenarios. Viola and Beatrice are of like mind, but they didn’t have quite the same level of experiences. Perhaps it’s because, as a soldier, Hunter has faced situations in the past that, without faith, would crush another man. There are no sparkly rainbows in this story. It’s gritty, realistic, and hard, yet at the same time, optimistic. There was the time, however, where I totally and completely understood Hunter’s reaction when Viola proceeded to ‘prepare’ the herbs for the poultice. I guess if it works… The other fun part is when, even in sleep, Hunter sought to protect Viola. That scene gave me the giggles. This is a clean romance, so nothing happened to change that, but like Beatrice said, “It’s kind of sweet.” There were a lot of delicious looks that bounced between Viola and Hunter, and plenty of blushes to go with them. The romance is simply delightful.

There is drama and a bit of suspense when the bad guys pay a visit. From that excitement, comes a revelation. Oh, and then there’s a complication with a friend of the family. He sure sounded interesting. I wouldn’t mind if there was a story about him!

There is so much that goes on in the book. It’s a character driven romance story with plenty of fun dialogue, action, secrets and an absolutely wonderful happy ever after wrap up in the epilogue. Vestige of Hope was an awesome read and I’m so very glad I looked up Hunter’s story. It was well worth it.

Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf by Charles R Darner Jr


Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf by Charles R Darner Jr
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Holiday, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Comedy, Horror, Inspirational
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

A house party, a careless fire and a flash of the mystical create a supernatural force prone to seek revenge. As the bodies pile up, Chloe understands one of her playthings maybe behind the bizarre accidents her parent’s friends are experiencing. As no one believes her, she attempts to intercedes but to no avail. With help from the North Pole, can Chloe save her family who is now targeted.

If you are looking for a future New York Best seller then give his writing style a try. This is my third Charles R Darner Jr book that I’ve read and I find his writing to be original, creative and versatile. I don’t think there is any genre he couldn’t write. I look forward to following his literature work.

I’m not supposed to say how a book will make another reader feel, but only comment how the book made me feel in my reviews. However, I can’t help thinking out loud that Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf will leave the expected readers feeling unexpected.

I’ve honestly read this book twice now because I loved it that much. It starts off introducing and developing the main cast of characters rather quickly in an eye-opening plot. I’m not exaggerating when I say the first chapter is literally ‘hot’.

The rest of the story progresses with a steady momentum that elaborates into an engaging narrative that is full of plot twists. Surprising twists that make it impossible to put the book down. I will share that there were some horrifying moments.

Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf really resonated with me. It takes the concept of the classic story of the Elf on the Shelf, which is a Christmas tradition for many families, and spins a completely different holiday story with a mind-boggling inspirational ending.

It’s impossible to describe without giving away spoilers. All I can say is that I will not ask anyone if they have been naughty or nice this Christmas season, and I already donated our Elf on the Shelf to a new loving family since my children are old and grown. I just hope our elf doesn’t come alive and haunt us for giving him away. I’m not a fan of fire or ice. That will make sense after you read this book. It’s quite comical. I did laugh out loud a few times throughout the story.

This is where I’m going to end this review. I suggest buying this book for family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts. The classic elf tradition is to put the elf on your shelf between November 24 through December 1st. After reading Dokkalfur and the Empty Shelf, I’ll never be able to look at an Elf on the Shelf and not have retrospection. I know I’m repenting for my naughty choices this year. This would be a great book to give to an adult with an elf as a joke gift. This story is destined to be listed on future Book Clubs to enjoy. I know I did.

Going Dry – My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking by Sean Robinson


Going Dry – My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking by Sean Robinson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Non-Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Do you want to take a break from alcohol easily and safely? Reading Going Dry will inspire you and change the way you look at drinking.

When COVID-19 shut down Canada and countries worldwide, Sean Robinson experienced a dark year. His drinking habit was one constant he could continue in an otherwise pandemic-disrupted routine. But at the beginning of 2021, he decided to make a change.

In Going Dry: My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking, Sean tells his story of choosing, one day and one month at a time, to carve a new lifestyle for himself. Despite growing up in a home where drinking was a normal part of life and being surrounded by constant social pressure to drink, Sean surprised himself and those around him.

His story provides inspiration and strategies for eliminating bad habits and replacing them with a more positive outlook and approach to life.

Going Dry is a testament that anyone can change, and it’s worth the effort.

Now is the perfect time to make healthier choices.

Alcohol misuse comes in many forms, not all of which are necessarily easy to recognize without some education on the topic. Some of the most interesting passages were the ones that explained the author’s relationship with alcohol, why he thought it was becoming unhealthy for him, and what subtle signs lead him to this conclusion. Alcoholism, and even an unhealthy relationship with that substance in general, can exist in people whose lives are otherwise pretty well put together. This isn’t the case for everyone, of course, but it was interesting to confront my own assumptions about this illness and what sort of person might develop it. I thought I already had a decent understanding of this topic, so I was surprised by how much more there was to learn about it.

I would have liked to see a little more time spent on the coping mechanisms Mr. Robinson leaned on to help him stop drinking and change his relationship with alcohol. These were such an important part of the process that I was surprised by how quickly those sections ended. This was a minor criticism of something I otherwise found well worth reading.

As someone who has medical reasons for not drinking alcohol and who therefore has never had a problem with this substance, I was surprised by how much overlap I noticed between the author’s experiences as an ex-drinker and my own as a non-drinker. Some folks become very uncomfortable in social gatherings if everyone isn’t drinking even if those of us who are abstaining have excellent reasons to order a soda or something instead. The peer pressure to drink is real, and Mr. Robinson had some fantastic tips for holding boundaries with friends or relatives who have trouble with this concept. Honestly, it made me want to go out to an alcohol-free dinner with him and dive even more deeply into the question of why some folks become so agitated by non-drinkers and how they can be redirected or deflected when necessary.

You don’t need to have a history of drinking alcohol or of misusing it to get something out of this book. Everyone has at least one bad habit they’d like to change, and Mr. Robinson found many similarities between the decision to stop drinking and the decision to replace any other number of habits with healthier life choices. Figuring out what to do instead and how to deal with peer pressure to fall back into old patterns is important for everyone who is trying to improve something about their lives.

Going Dry – My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking was a thought-provoking and educational read.

Trial Show: The Resistance Rises by Konstantina P.


Trial Show: The Resistance Rises by Konstantina P.
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: speculative fiction, spy thriller
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

Forced into the shadows while waging war on an oppressive regime intent on controlling those born with unnatural powers, the Resistance feels like a family. And although all families harbour secrets, theirs are world-shattering.

When Ava Moore foresees the death of her sister Brooklyn and Resistance leader Parker Quinn is forced to appear in a televised trial accused of murder, the web of lies begins to unravel. For not only is Resistance’s second-in-command, Jay Frazer, fighting a guerrilla battle with deadly consequences, he’s also trying to bury his deep-seated love for Parker.

With Parker and Jay temporarily out of the picture, double-agent Trent Reese is left responsible for leading the Resistance. Trent is willing to adapt his moral code to any situation, but what—or whom—does he believe in? As for innocent Ava, who’s plagued by unsettling visions, it’s becoming clear that everyone she loves is in peril. Given, however, that Parker is concealing a mighty gift of his own, one that could change the entire course of the rebellion, the future of the all-seeing state is on the line too.

When the web of secrets is untangled, who will survive?

The Trial Show – the ultimate in reality TV – where the audience, supposedly, chooses the guilt or innocence.

This is an exciting new look at a possible future, where the public is controlled even as they think they have free will…controlled by misinformation.

I enjoyed the book, and I enjoyed the characters. The book starts off with a bang and you are right in the middle of the action. I had to double check to make sure I was not reading a book in a series – I was, but it’s the first book in the series. It took a bit for me to put together all that was happening. But, once I did, things meshed nicely.

It’s written from multiple points of view, even minor characters with no names. Once I realized that it was written as if I were watching a television show with an ensemble cast, I was able to enjoy the book a lot more. It did take me a little while to get used to this sort of narrative though. There were some nice twists and turns to keep me on my toes.

The blurb is an important part of the book in this case. It fills you in on a lot you need to know going into the book.

I will definitely be following this series – I’d like to know where these characters go and how what they do affect their society. 4 stars.

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