The Storm: How Young Men Become Good Men by Daniel Blanchard is like a full-life lesson in an easy-to-explain format for young men and women! Blanchard tells the story from a teen’s point of view as he has a conversation with the grandfather he rarely sees. As young Dakota calls him, Grandaddy has come to him on his special day to tell him all of the secrets to life and how to live it to its fullest. Dakota isn’t happy with his whole life. He is a great athlete, but his father is abusive and absent, and his older brother is in and out of jail. Dakota doesn’t like how his life is going and doesn’t understand why Grandaddy doesn’t come around, except he knows it has something to do with Pops, but today of all days he doesn’t want to talk about Pops.
This is a well-organized book with many easy-to-understand lessons for someone of any age or gender.
Grandaddy tells Dakota of his life during the war, “Dr. Deming taught that quality was not just a matter of meeting certain standards, but rather was a living, breathing process of never-ending
One of the most moving things Blanchard says that is so perfectly fitting to the angst of our society currently in the United States was when he is talking about respect and how using someone’s name when speaking to or about them shows respect:
“Back then, people said the whole name… The United States of America. It was like it meant more back then. Now, people don’t say it like that. Now they just say USA.”
As an educator, I would encourage parents and teachers to read this to, or with, their children. It is an easy read, and easy to understand, and Blanchard gets right to the point on all issues, not leaving any room for stagnant explanations.
My only complaint would be the title; it conveys that this book is a message to boys only and it really is a great book for all people, any gender, and any age!
Book Review: Deadly Games
Deadly Games by Sally Rigby is a suspenseful thriller which weaves sociopathy and coming of age in a twist of serial murders.
George, short for Georgina, is a professor at University in the UK. She is a scholar in forensic psychology and knows about profiling and looking at evidence, but she isn’t a detective. DCI Walker on the other hand has learned all she knows from being on the job and doesn’t have the patience for book learners who have no experience in the field. That is until she gets to know George and sees that although George is learned through books, she has a good sense of reality when it comes to character and behavior. When a serial killer is out hunting University students DCI Walker begins to trust and admire George for her help with the case. But they are running out of time. DCI Walker has made too many mistakes and is about to be knocked down to desk duty. George doesn’t want to leave the case and DCI Walker is determined to solve it.
I gave this book three out of five stars for its predictability. The plot, although familiar as in other types of psychological thrillers, is unique in its details and does lend itself to interesting characters involved. Although the author did very well in throwing curveballs to have the reader second guess their suspicions, there wasn’t a depth to the story to lend itself as a new series that will have novelty and unexpected events. The writing itself is good and the story line is plotted out well. It was definitely worth reading and I did want to hear the entire story. Most likely I will look for the second book in the series when it gets published to determine if my idea of predictability is false.
©2022 CBialczak Book Reviews
Book Review: Kill Your Brother
Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath was an impressively complex story despite it being on the shorter side of novel lengths. It is just as predictable as its title yet surprisingly unpredictable. I was impressed with the author’s ability to take a single incident and turn it into a complex psychological thriller with many facets of surprise.
Elise is looking for her brother Callum. She seems to be the last person willing to think that Callum has done anything wrong. But Elise has a reputation which leads to problems of her own. She doesn’t have a support system and is financially tapped so looking for Callum has got be creative and done alone.
Elise does find Callum but the only way to save herself means sacrificing her brother. She has a lot to think about and needs to determine if her brother is worth it all.
I gave this story 5 out of 5 stars for its complexity and plot development. I was surprised by the twists and turns and even more blown away with the author’s ability to take one question and incorporate a variety of convoluted characters keeping the reader guessing and surprised to the end.
©2022 CBialczak Book Reviews
Book Review: The Daughter in Law
Are you supposed to warm up to your mother in law right away or is it she who should warm up to you? Daisy is about to learn that warming up to Ben’s mother might never happen.
Annie has raised her son Ben by herself and is so proud of the man he is becoming. It is always her and Ben but when Ben suddenly gets married and moves out Annie doesn’t know how to continue on her own. To complicate matters further, Daisy, his new wife, is pregnant with her son’s baby! It isn’t long after meeting Annie that Daisy is forced to move in with her mother in law, without Ben. But being catered to by Annie is not that hard to take and Daisy’s confusion about her relationship with her new husband have made Daisy happy to just move along through the motions.
I give this story five out of five stars for the gripping plot and original characters that keep you wondering how long anyone could hang on. The characters were not as realistic as I would be able to fathom but then again I have never met anyone as in love with her son as Annie was. Will Daisy be like Annie when her baby is born, unable to be away from him or her? Is it such a bad thing?
Book Review: Her Darkest Fear
Nina Manning has the ability to leave the reader in suspense until the very end of her thrilling tales. Her story is complete with romance, mystery, and plenty of relationships evolving throughout the plot.
Frankie is happily married to Damien with two beautiful children and about to start a change in jobs that is going to advance her career to a new level. But after starting the new job with the very handsome Mason Valentine, one of the city’s most accomplished businessmen, Frankie and Damien start growing apart. The problems coming between them are shrouded in the darkness Frankie still has about the accident when her dear brother was killed twenty years ago. Now Damien is looking elsewhere for companionship, but how involved is he getting and with who? Can Frankie deal with grieving for her brother and trying to hold her relationship together?
I give this story five out of five stars for its gripping plot, with so many different situations the reader is left wondering where the connection is and who is involved with who. Manning leaves no loose ends and each branch of the story is complete with dynamic characters and moving scenarios. If you want a shallow, quick end to a psychological thriller Manning’s gripping stories are not for you.
©2021 CBialczak Book Review
The Polka-Dotted Penguin
Written by Amy Moy
This adorable book is written with some key ideas that set it apart from other “fitting in” type stories. The story begins with the fathers all holding their baby eggs, just like they do in real life. The other fathers mention the difference they see in the spotted egg but don’t make it a big deal, just a small curiosity. When the new little penguin is born from her dotted egg she is still a penguin, rather than some other sort of “misplaced egg” that would be similar to so many other stories. Instead this little penguin just has some differences, but is still the same type of bird. The reason this matters would be that when explaining differences to children the differences don’t have to be so extreme, as a differing species, for someone or something to still be different “enough”. When the little Penguin, named Dottie goes to school and plays with the other children, they don’t just laugh and ask why she is different. Instead they treat her just like they treat all the other penguins, since being different doesn’t mean she needed different treatment. The approach the author took in treating the different penguin was very realistic and completely acceptable and appropriate for children.
The author also used many well known titled stories in this story, changing the titles just enough to suit sea-life type stories. This is a great tool for opening discussion with little ones about how even different “people” know the same stories many children are familiar with.
I give this story four out of five stars for its realistic approach to dealing with differences. Many important aspects were touched upon but not over exaggerated. The story leaves many opportunities for conversation about being different and treating others who are different. It is a clever take on a popular topic with just enough dissimilar qualities to make it a must-read to little ones.
Book Review: The House Mate
Living with people has its benefits but you really need to know more about your House Mate!
The House Mate by Nina Manning is a quick moving story where the plot has you involved feeling like Regina is your house mate and you are helping her deal with those ghosts that haunt her. Regina isn’t easy to read and keeps her secrets throughout the story.
Regina is an emotional mess dealing with OCD behaviors that she has developed to help cope not only with everyday life but with memories that are so difficult she can’t find the strength to share it with anyone. Now that she has made the decision to try and move forward she has the help of her much younger housemates and one of the professors at the university she has enrolled in. Will the young friends be able to bring a fresh way to look at emotional issues or will she be their strength and support?
I give this book four out of five stars for its interesting subject matter and its ability to draw you in to the feelings of all of the characters. The mystery of Regina’s issues do not get resolved until late in the book which makes any reader with great anticipation feel some impatience in knowing the truth. The author has pulled all of the loose ends and characters together at the end leaving the reader some satisfaction and the feeling that it was all worth waiting for.
Book Review: Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow
Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col is an eight part podcast produced by a student for a college course, the topic chosen solely based on one vague voicemail message and the questions it raised.
Melissa Lopez is studying linguistics and journalism and has decided that the voicemail left on her phone is in fact from missing student, Anna Winslow. Missing turns into a case of murder when Anna’s body is found in the woods. Each session of Melissa’s podcast has clips of the actual voice messages Anna has left her and a few fellow students. But no one really knew Anna, so why the voicemails and why is she dead? Melissa wants to find out and becomes so entangled in the story she actually becomes a suspect herself, asking questions that no one that never knew Anna should even care about, unless they killed her and are trying to cover their own tracks.
I give this 4 out of 5 stars for its originality and realistic plot. Because there are eight podcasts in the series there is quite a bit of repetition, so as to set the story up for a reader who may not listen to all of them. It is quite like a television show that begins with a recap of the previous episode. Melissa is a bright student and you come to realize that she has some real talent in both the podcasting and interviewing of characters, trying to get to the truth of who killed Anna Winslow and why.
Book Review: The Secrets We Left Behind
The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Wright is a gripping story of love and loss and illustrates what any mother would do for her child.
At the beginning of the story the narrator does not give her name but you come to find out that she is Joanna, presently a mother herself. She tells her story starting when she was a teen. Her mother had just passed away and her father left many years ago. She is now on her own, ready to start her new life. But the London streets aren’t like they are down on the coast, in the small town she grew up in. Luckily she meets Eve, a sweet, caring, and sensible soul who takes her under her wing and teaches her how wonderful life can truly be.
Jo moves in with Eve and her boyfriend Scott and they soon become a close family of three. This was all in the past. Now, Scott has come back, on his deathbed, threatening to tell Duncan and Hannah, Jo’s husband and daughter, the truth about when they lived as squatters about 30 years ago. Scott wants to clear his conscious regardless of what it does to Jo and the life she has built since then, built on lies.
I give this book five out of five stars for its intricate plot that is woven so tightly and neatly you feel as though you are there with the characters, feeling what they are going through, living your life alongside them. The story flips back and forth between past and present but does so in such a way that there is no interruption to the plot and no loose ends left. It is amazingly touching and you will come away loving Jo and the other characters as if you have now all become family. The question is, can you forgive Jo for what she’s done?
Book Review: I, Black Pharaoh: Golden Age of Triumph
I, Black Pharaoh: Rise to Power by Emmanuel Kulu Jr. is an historical fiction account of the mighty reign of Thutmose the Third in Egypt despite deceit and threat from the very people he is to inherit the throne from.
This historical fiction account begins with a vision from the Gods that there will soon be a birth of the new ruler, Black Pharaoh. Thutmose the Second is the current ruler of Kemet in Egypt and it has been prophesied that he will have a son who will be the ruler when he is gone. Hatshepsut, the pharaoh’s devoted wife is honored to provide this son but it seems destiny has its own idea. When Hatshepsut finds her husband with another lover her jealousy burns and plans begin to form in her head, plans to rid the world of this adulterous leader and become the true ruler. There are others who believe they have earned their place as rulers and those who decide to remain devoted to Thutmose the Second. For many years this position is fought for and in the end only one person can rule.
This account of Egyptian Rule is a twisted tale of deceit that sometimes reads as a textbook, other times as a novel dreamed up by a talented writer. Many of the facts used in the story are accurate and if you are familiar with the history, then following along will come easily.
I give this book three out of five stars for its creative take on an historical event with many diverse characters and plot twists. There were times where the dialogue seemed too “modern” for the times but this did not distract from the story. For a reader who is not familiar with Egyptian History this story can be confusing as allies quickly turn to enemies and enemies become allies quickly and frequently throughout the story. According to other readers the historical accounts may not convey the truth accurately but being a fiction novel there is room to make small adjustments as desired, as has been done by the author. It is well written and easy to read and understand, providing some history to the reign of the Black Pharaoh, ruler and conqueror of Egypt.
©2021 CBialczak Book Review
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