As a Little Child by Catalina Siri

As a Little Child (Come Into the Agape Boat) by Catalina Siri
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Genre: Children’s, Inspirational
Review by Rose

I was inspired by Jesus to write this book. In combining nature and the sacred word of the Bible, my intention is to take the reader into a place of contemplation of the wonderful things God has created for the care, nourishment, and enjoyment of His creation, especially humanity. This book’s central theme is the character of love of our heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this book is an introduction to young children to the knowledge of the God of the Bible, who is unknown to most of the Christian circle and the world at large. God is the source of Agape and He is inviting all to receive Agape from Him through His Son Jesus.

I loved the illustrations in this book, and I feel just those would be an excellent way for parents to use this book in expressing the message…that God loves all children. It expresses agape (pure love) as a river that all people can access.

I found the wording itself to be a little on the old side for the target audience of small kids, but it would be a good start for parents to put the message in their own words. The author also includes Bible verses that back up the text and the message of the story, as well as a glossary in the back to also help parents explain the story to their kids.

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Movie Review: That Night

That Night
Director: Zachary Trussell
Writer: Zachary Trussell
Stars: Julio Alexander, Oscar Mansky, Julie Gester, Maureen Azzun, Boogie Williams, Kendall McCarthy, Michael C. Hyatt, and Alexander Louis
Rated: 3 Stars (6 stars on IMDB)
Review by: Astilbe

THAT NIGHT tells the story of a young unknown artist who is forced to confront his career ambitions and win back his ex-girlfriend during a drunken night in Chicago with his irreverent friends. Any night out in a big city has the potential to be a good night, the risk of being a bad night, and typically ends up somewhere in between, but only some nights can claim to be “That Night”—the night where little choices lead to big decisions, chance encounters to second chances, Uber drivers keep themselves busy in the strangest of ways and taking the wrong pill can be really bad for the upholstery. For STACY, an artist with one eye on the future of design and the other stuck looking hopelessly at his ex-lover, that night is tonight—and the city, Chicago. So yes, there will be drinking.

Anything can happen overnight.

I loved this film’s varied sense of humor. There was something here for everyone, whether you like jokes about the pitfalls of accidentally taking the wrong medication or how one should properly milk an almond. All of the characters had a good sense of humour and weren’t afraid to gently poke fun at themselves or others if the conversation warranted it. There is definitely something to be said for that!

It would have been helpful to have more character development. I don’t mind watching stories about people who may not be terribly likeable at first glance as those can often be the most interesting characters of them all, but I was hoping to see everyone mature a bit more as a result of their wild night. There were a few signs that the protagonist was going to work on his flaws, and I appreciated that. Had I seen it in his friends, too, I would have happily chosen a higher rating.

The romantic storyline was fresh and realistic, and I’m saying this as a viewer who was honestly not that impressed with it in the beginning. It’s always nice to be proven wrong, especially with something as creative as this. I loved the way the director included little hints about where he was going with the romance early on while still leaving space to interpret them in multiple ways. That’s a fantastic way to foreshadow the conclusion without spelling things out too directly, and it makes me want to see more from these characters and this crew.

That Night kept me guessing.

From Under a Rock by Tam MacPhee

From Under a Rock by Tam MacPhee
Publisher: Tellwell
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rated: 3 stars
Review by Rose

In this compelling memoir, author Tam MacPhee bares her soul and shares her deepest memories. As a little girl she battles through abuse, with her innocence betrayed by the males closest to her. Becoming a single parent at the age of eighteen, she is determined to work hard to create a better future for herself and her child.

Soon after turning nineteen, she meets a man whom she believed to be the man of her dreams. But she had no idea that the toughest lessons in her life were still to be learned. Secrets are revealed and a piece of her heart is broken off forever.

Realizing she deserves more, Tam finds her path set out by the universe that brings her love and success. But the journey also includes a new heartbreaking diagnosis and many challenges. Join Tam as she recounts her story, sharing her experiences and life’s lessons.

Ms. MacPhee is to be commended for her honesty in telling her story so frankly. The book begins with her birth in 1974 (from what she has been told and from what she remembers as a child) and continues through Covid and her care of her mom during her final days. The book is written just as the author remembers things – very stream-of-conscious writing. Because of this it can come across as a bit disjointed at times, but the authenticity of her life shines through.

The author includes a large section of pictures and letters from various parts of her life, which also lead the reader to get to know Tam and her family members.

However, the book would have been easier to read had it been edited better. There were several issues with punctuation and areas where the writing could have been a little tighter and not so rambly. Details were duplicated, and there were times when less would have been more.

I do think that the book is a good way for Tam’s family and friends to learn more about her, though, and that’s a good thing. She also includes a chapter of advice she has learned across the years, which is helpful, as well as a chapter on the importance of the number 22 to her life.

All in all, I enjoyed reading the book and learning more about this woman and the life she has led.

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Fruit of the Poisonous Tree by Norm Harris

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree by Norm Harris
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Rated: 3 stars
Review by Rose

A female lawyer must prove a war hero’s innocence. Meanwhile, Navy SEALs hijack a Russian warship to stop a North Korean missile crisis.

Every now and again, a unique story comes our way, a story unlike any we may have read before. Such is Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, author Norm Harris’s critically acclaimed legal military mystery thriller. The story’s focal point is Faydra “Spider” Green, a dedicated Navy JAG lawyer who has lived her life in the shadows of a great and powerful man: her father, former President of the United States William Green. Green cannot heal the wound in his relationship with his daughter. His former power and influence curse Faydra and cause her to wonder if her accomplishments were her own doing.

A lawyer by trade, Faydra is both anxious and excited as she undertakes her first homicide investigation —the brutal murder of a Navy SEAL She reasons that a successful investigation will provide her the opportunity to validate her sense of self-worth. Faydra soon realizes that the accused man, a Special Ops Marine war hero, may be innocent thanks to her remarkable deductive abilities. The Navy is using her as a pawn in a complex cover-up.

Meanwhile, a seasoned Navy Sea Captain, Egan Fletcher, whose wife had died eight years earlier, struggles to balance his Navy career with raising a son. When the Navy purposefully pairs him with Faydra in a meeting, the two Navy officers embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure. It is a top-secret mission- impossible that will take them halfway around the world in an attempt to avert a catastrophic act of terrorism in the form of biological warfare.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of Washington State’s Puget Sound and the mystique of East Asia, Fadra’s story revolves around a woman who appears to be as pure as the driven snow—yet, she is driven by an insatiable need to complete any assignment, no matter how dangerous. Along the way, she transforms into a symbol of hope, perseverance, and a woman’s ability to overcome life-threatening events.

There is a lot going on in this book – the action is quite riveting. What starts off as a simple murder investigation soon becomes much much more.

The storyline was complicated, and quite quickly led to multi-layers of issues for the characters. There were some inconsistencies with the characters and there were instances when they were talking where the dialogue didn’t ring true, which took me out of the story several times. However, even with those, the adventure element of the story drove me on.

I enjoyed the characters and their relationships with each other. And, I loved how the title was explained in the book… I had wondered about that.

All in all, an interesting debut and start to what seems will be an interesting series about Faydra and her investigations.

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King Henry’s Choice by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

King Henry’s Choice by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Genre: Historical, Fantasy
Length: Full (227 pgs)
Rated: 3 stars
Review by Rose

There are powers at play that continue to seek amalgamating Scotland to England – powers from the past and powers from the future. It’s the late 1800s and Queen Victoria wants more than mere access to the Scottish retreat at Balmoral Castle. But King Henry I of Scotland, direct descendent of Queen Mary Elizabeth I, the time traveling royal daughter of Mary Queen of Scots, is determined to keep Scotland free and independent and a powerful, progressive nation in its own right. The struggle to protect what is his by birthright becomes a battle that must be fought in the past, the present and the future and in other parts of the world. And, in the midst of each battle, there are choices to be made. Very difficult choices.

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I love time travel stories and, to a lesser extent, alternative history and I was intrigued by the plot and concept of this book as I’m a huge fan of the time period. I did have a little trouble getting into this book. I understand there’s a previous book in the series, and I might have had less trouble if I had read that one first.

There were some inconsistencies that threw me out of the book on occasion, but I think that was more me being an editor in a previous life. I soon was able to get back into the swing of the story, though they did mar my enjoyment a bit.

I enjoyed the characters immensely and was intrigued by the whole concept of Scotland as a free nation. The ending was not what I expected at all. Ms. Orford has a different take on time travel than I’m used to, and I am planning on reading the first book to see if I can pick up more of the background of the story.

Taking Wing by Clemency Crow

Taking Wing by Clemency Crow
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rated: 3.5
Review by Rose

Twelve-year-old Freya enjoys karate and is the only one in her class who’s trusted with a part-time job. But everything changes when she meets a boy with yellow eyes. She learns about the guardians, and how an age-old fight has prevented them from fulfilling their purpose.

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But as the guardians’ war rages on, Freya realises that, although the shadow’s power can be useful, it can’t create peace. To do that, Freya and her friends must solve the mysterious crime that began the war. Can they bring the guardians together before they destroy each other?

Ms. Crow did a good job setting up the world in this first book of her Feather Down series. The world, in a different realm than humanity, is “peopled” by various bird clans who serve as Guardians over human beings. Unfortunately, they have found themselves involved in a generations-long war that takes up all their time and energy and keeps them from fulfilling their mission.

This is an ensemble piece that puts together Freya and her friends so they can work with the clans and help get them back together so they can fulfill their purpose. This group of young creatures also serve to show their elders the importance of judging everyone on their own merits, not just assuming you know what they will do or think based on the group they belong to.

There were a few cases of continuity issues and some word choices I found distracting, but this could very well be because I am an editor at my IRL job and things like that jump out at me. The average reader (especially ones on the middle-grade level which this book is aimed at) probably would not have an issue.

The action and the characters were well-done enough that these few issues did not take me out of the book much. The action–especially the further into the book I got–was non-stop and well-written with some amazing twists. I could see the action in my mind’s eye and think this would make a wonderful movie with the special effects available today.

I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Chevon’s Mate by April Zyon

Chevon’s Mate by April Zyon
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (85 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Dumping her fiance and going on their honeymoon alone was the best thing Laura Troxell had ever done. Too bad she had seen and heard too much and created enemies that wanted her dead.

Chevon von Janus simply wanted to mold the men and women that boarded his ship into the best Imarian officers they could possibly be. A general in his own right, Chevon was a trainer, but he was also a warrior. When his ship’s sensors picked up a strange object near an asteroid field, he felt it was his duty to investigate. What he found inside, however, threw the straightlaced general for a loop. The woman was from enemy territory. She was also his mate.
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Now he has to figure out how to keep her safe from his people and hers.

I enjoyed this short but fast paced and very intriguing Sci-Fi romance.

This is the entertaining love story of Laura and Chevon. Laura had been betrayed in the worst possible way. She had some spunk so she decided to have the last laugh and enjoy the luxurious honeymoon space cruise at her shady fiance’s expense, only to be attacked and set adrift in space to die. That was how Chevon, an Imarian space commander, rescues her and they quickly realize that they were true soul mates. He is detremined to keep her safe amidst an interstellar war between their two worlds.

I liked the main couple in this romance simply because of the unconditional way they accepted and supported each other. Chevon and Laura just wanted to be together and hopefully help to end the war between their people.

This story had some low suspense, loads of romance and steamy sex. It was entertaining and had a very nice epilogue, which is always appreciated by this reader.

I enjoyed this book and would consider reading any others in this series.