Book Review: Beware the Cuckoo

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Beware the Cuckoo by Julie Newman is a mystery like no other. Be prepared to be drawn in to the past and present of two young women as they try to find their way through adolescence, independence, and truths that sometimes hurt.
Karen, Yvonne, and Sandra are best friends but so different than each other in almost every way. In the 70’s they are in school and they spend most of their time together but have found lives outside of school that drive a wedge between them. Karen is the quiet and compliant one, Yvonne the partier, and Sandra, the rich girl with the perfect life. Losing Yvonne helped bring Sandra and Karen closer for a while but the truth might hurt them both and everyone they love.
Now as adults some memories have been forgotten but none of the hurt has lessened. Will 2010 be the year all the truths come out?
I gave this story 4 out of 5 stars for the believable characters and captivating plot line. The plot is dragged out a little too long so as to make the reader want to skip a few chapters and get to the end but overall it is worth sticking to as the author has a way of tying it all together in the end. 

I’m Going to Start Here: Book Review

As a fond admirer of the writings of Dr. Seuss I was contacted and asked to read and review this story. There are many similarities to Oh, The Places You’ll Go but touch on a lot of key elements young people should hear as they are adulting and moving forward in life.

I’m Going to Start Here! Is a rhyming book in the fashion of a Dr. Seuss-type book. It explores some of the obstacles a young person will face when entering the world as an adult as well as giving encouragement for any of the efforts made in moving forward. It sends a positive message and can be a great read for anyone looking to advance on a new or broader path.  

Raye Springield has done a great job continuing the journey into adulthood that Dr. Seuss had begun. As an educator I found that all the points that Springield hits on are key ideas to talk to your son or daughter about as they begin adulting. 

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars for its positive message and encouraging words. Some of the rhyming patterns are inconsistent causing the flow of the reading to falter but this does not take away from the positivity the book is trying to convey. Additionally, the illustrations are like those of Dr. Seuss with their own original spin. I would recommend this book to anyone who might have some fear or resistance to that step forward in life.  


After twenty-five years, I’m Going to Start Here! is the delightful response to the very popular Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  Like that best-seller, this book appeals equally to the young, those in the middle and to the ones who do not accept that a number defines age. With humorous verse and vivid pictures, it encourages kids, and kids at heart, to step out and reach for the stars. I’m Going to Start Here! invites youon a journey that’s fun, upbeat and inspiring. And chances areyou’ll discover that indeed you already have within all you need to succeed in life. Now, everyone, get ready, get started and Come Fly with Me on this great adventure.

I’ll walk across that stage and go out with a bang.

I’ve learned my lesson. I’m ready to spread my wings.

          I have the power to make this life a stupendously, beautiful thing.


Raye Springfield is a writer, lawyer, and author of the children’s book, I’m Going to Start Here! For the young and those in between, it’s a book that encourages, inspires and motivates minds to strive for success. With humor and vivid pictures, this fun book will make kids of all ages eager to step out and reach for the stars. After decades writing legal documents, and opinions as administrative judge, she has now authored five books, pursuing her love of writing full-time. The first edition of her historical non-fictionis in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her children’s book, Raye is the author of The Legacy of Tamar: Courage and Faith in an African American Family, whichdocuments family history as well as Haywood County, Tennessee history,and 2nd edition, both published by The University of Tennessee Press; Treasure in Jars of Clay: 100 Quotes on Joy, Life & Love; and the latest, a novel, Sunday at Six. She lives in Nashville, is the mother of a son and daughter, and somehow inspired both to also become attorneys.


Title: I’m Going to Start Here!
Author: Raye Springfield 
Pub date- November 29, 2017
Publisher- Stonebrook Publishing
Genre: JUVENILE FICTION/Social Themes/Emotions & Feelings
JUVENILE FICTION/ Stories in Verse
Paperback- ISBN 9781532350207
# of Pages- 40
Amazon link

Book Review – Murder: It’s All In Your Head

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MURDER: IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD by Cynthia Hilston will have you wondering who is who and how will 100 years of horror finally be put to rest? This is a ghost story mystery that joins the present and the past in unbelievable ways.   

It is 1918 and Helen is being brutally abused…by her father. This pastor has an un-Godly way of making her life hell. If only she could escape this torture and be free of her father life can be good. But Helen does not realize she can do more to control the situation if she just puts her mind to it. Is killing this evil man the only way to find happiness in her life?   

Now, in the same town of Hurston, Ohio many lives are going to change, as they have been for the past 100 years. Cassie wakes to find herself in Randy Davis’s body staring down at a dead woman in a full bathtub. Must Cassie take the consequences of Randy murdering his own wife?   

The real Randy is locked in a mental hospital accused of murdering his wife, but he does not look like himself and why won’t anyone believe him that his name is NOT Jimmy Williams? Could it be that he is locked in the body of Jimmy Williams and Jimmy is the real murderer? Cassie then finds herself in Randy’s body trying to convince the real Randy that she knows something strange is going on. Will she be able to convince him before more lives are lost?  She is going to try while she learns about the evil which has taken over her body, ready to bring more destruction to the lives Cassie has always loved.   

No one is who they seem to be, or at least not all the time. Supernatural forces take control of some unexpecting citizens who must try to find out who is behind this anomaly and why. Who survives and who is the one that “always finishes what she started”?    

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for its ability to keep me guessing up until the very end. It took a bit of time before I was able understand what was going on, keeping track of who is who and what is happening. It is worth it to stick it out, as the plot comes together, and things start making sense. The author has captured a way to pull you into the story and make you believe this isn’t fiction or just a figment of your imagination. 

©2021 CBialczak Book Reviews

The Wives: Book Review

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The Wives by Tarryn Fisher is a twisted mystery leaving you wondering if you, as the reader, or the characters are the ones who cannot keep the story straight! Who is Thursday and how is she intertwined with Monday and Tuesday, or is she Seth’s one and only true love?  

Thursday is the narrator and main character in this perplexing mystery. The author explains the situation very well from the beginning of the story so you can follow who is who, but their roles become muddied as Thursday becomes more curious about her Polygamist husband’s other wives. From the beginning, Thursday was always okay with the arrangement between her and Seth; he had other wives and she would keep her curiosity at bay, knowing she was the one “legal” wife, and the most loved. But as she digs deeper into Seth’s other relationships, she realizes she might not be the most important and she is starting to understand why. Will collaboration with the other wives help answer some of her questions? What will Seth do when he finds out she has contacted the other wives? 

I give this story 4 out of 5 stars for its intricate and intriguing plot. Throughout the story the reader is left rooting for each wife for varied reasons and the author sends you on a twisted journey. There are a few times later in the story that it is hard to differentiate between the real and the imagined and to know whether this perplexity is set up purposely by the author or just the reader being confused. In the end, this book is worth reading and I would read more from Tarryn Fisher.  

©2021 CBialczak Book Review

Book Review: Before the Ruins


Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling is a wonderfully crafted mystery, set in modern day England, that weaves a whole cast of characters so intricately and a plot that keeps you engaged and anxious to read how she brings it all together at the end, revealing secrets and the truths around them.  

Andy, Em, Peter, Marcus and David have found friendship and comradery but are also in the process of learning how many secrets one group of friends can hold. As a young group of friends there are games to play and plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company. Andy conveys the impression that she leads the group, while also seemingly the least favored friend. With Em and Marcus close by her side the group works on solving an old mystery haunting The Manor since 1936, the missing diamonds.  As they age so do their problems, and the situations they find themselves in, while life seems to unravel around them. Where is Peter? What has happened to David? Who is telling the truth? Who can any of them believe? It isn’t until years later that loose ends are tied up, truths are told, and authentic relationships are revealed.  

I give this story 3.5 out of 5 stars for the compelling storyline and cast of characters.  Gosling is a native of the English countryside, which made some of the references confusing to a reader who is not familiar with places and situations specific to life in England. After reading through most of the story many phrases become understandable based on context and in the end, you don’t notice any impact of cultural differences at all.  

Book Review: Behind the Blue Elevator

Behind the Blue Elevator

Behind the Blue Elevator, by Felicia Baxley is so smartly amazing. As an avid reader of psychological thrillers, I am in awe of her storytelling and anxiously await more of her work.  

Ella is a college student finishing her education with an internship placement at an insane asylum. She is not looking forward to her first day, as she would prefer an internship she had actually wanted, but this would fulfill her obligations needed to graduate. Her first day was nothing she ever expected. How could a mental patient catch her eye like Lebannon did? Was she really going to be a trained professional if she was going to fall for her patients? Each patient Ella encounters is different, and she begins to look forward to testing out her diagnostic knowledge. Spending time with Lebannon teaches Ella more than any college course could have.  

I give this story 5 out of 5 stars. This was a fast-paced story that kept me engaged from page one to the end. There were quite a few typing errors that I hope an editor can notice, but they do not distract enough to take from the plot or characters. This is a must read for anyone who likes to feel twisted when reading a psychological plot more twisted than anything since Stephen King.

The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel: Book Review

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The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel by K.T. Rose is a twisted tale of good versus evil in a hauntingly good ghost story that will keep you turning pages until the end. Rose went to a new level of haunting in this novel.  

Riley is a server who has been asked to work for a one-night gig at the Gallagher Hotel. She is one of the few on a concise list of people invited to this special event and she has no idea why the owner asked for her. During the first few minutes on the job Riley is introduced to a handful of special guests including Chris who has plans to work a short stint before grabbing as many treasures as he can and heading to Mexico. With a cast of characters that is quite diverse the evening is set to be memorable for everyone.  

I give this story 4 out of 5 stars for its ability to keep me turning pages with new surprises throughout. Some of the plot twists get confusing because there are so many lives intertwined, but overall, the plot carries you through for an eye-opening look at justice and truth in the eyes of a greater being. This story is definitely a must-read for any ghost hunter! 

©2021 CBialczak Book Review

Book Review: Everything We Keep

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Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale is a suspenseful read that will bring you along all the twists and turns that Aimee, the main character, goes on. Heartbreak, lies, secrets, and new love all thrown together for a trip of a lifetime.  

Aimee is getting ready to walk down the aisle with the love of her life. She is devastated to learn he has died in an accident on a trip to Mexico. She is not sure how she will go on, what she will do, or what move to make next. She has a feeling that James survived but doesn’t know how to find the truth or if she even wants to know the truth. Slowly moving forward with her dream of owning her own shop, Aimee is sideswept again, testing all her decisions she has made since losing her fiancée.  

I give this story 3.5 out of 5 stars. The story is intriguing and offers a ton of secrets and twists that will keep you guessing. The plot keeps moving but has many subplots which makes it somewhat confusing as to who is presently active in her life and who is just a piece of her past. Without being a spoiler, there is an epilogue that will interest any reader into reading the sequel, Everything We Left Behind: A Novel.  

©2021 CBialczak Book Review

Book Review: The Failsafe Query

The Failsafe Query by Michael Jenkins is a fast-paced adventure that takes you to places around the globe people only read about in the newspaper. This is a modern-day spy thriller that keeps you turning pages until the end.  

Sean Richardson is in all the way, trying to find out how much more destruction may come to the countries which are not allies with Iraq. The story begins shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers, a field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon in 2001. The opening is quick to show you what life as an operative working for the government might be faced with. Each chapter brings you deeper into Richardson’s career, with well thought out plans and well written information to allow the reader to become engrossed in each situation.  

I give this book four out of five stars as it took me some reading to make sense of exactly who Richardson was, who he was working for, and what he was after. Some of the chapters are more in-depth, which makes reading slower if you don’t have a background in the history of the Middle East and the British government. It is engaging and a great book for those looking for a good spy thriller!  

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Book Review – Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse

Written by Sherrill Joseph:

Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph is the second book in her Nutmeg Street Detective series, and it has only gotten better! Join these young detectives as they use logic and other clues to solve a mystery that hits very close to home. 

Lanny, Lexi, Moki, and Rani are becoming well known in their neighborhood for solving mysteries. The four juveniles are smart, talented, and pride themselves on their impeccable manners and mature conversation. In this second book, Isabela de Cordoba is a young woman who has just turned 21 years old and with this birthday milestone she gets a letter from a relative long gone, her great, great grandfather. The letter alerts Isabela that there is a valuable green emerald hidden on her property, a gem worth millions of dollars. Isabela needs help finding it and when she starts hearing noises in the house, while she is home alone, she invites the Nutmeg Street Detectives to come and stay to help her solve the mysteries of her ancestors and find out if her home is haunted.  

There are many new characters introduced in this story and for the most part it can be understood without having read the first book, but it helps to know who these kids are and where they come from, all information that helps the reader understand the characters better. Based on wealth and a lot of good luck, some young readers may not relate to the characters as well, as they present themselves as four very privileged individuals.  

I give this story five out of five stars for its believable characters and fast-moving plot. In this second book of the set, Joseph has portrayed a young person today, including their use of cell phones for flashlights and pictures! This book will keep you wondering and turning pages right up to the end.  

©2020 CBialczak Book Review