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Foreword Reviews - All Reviews





Updated: 2018-02-22T17:52:09-05:00

 



Una storia d'amore!

2018-02-22T06:10:01-05:00

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★★★★☆

Italy has been called a dream that keeps returning; Wallis’s photographs make you never want to wake.

In his photo travel book, Una storia d’amore, author and photographer Terence Wallis captures the aesthetically stunning road less traveled through modern Italy.

After the illness and death of his father, Wallis left his corporate job and formed his own company where he could pursue his love of photography. The result of that venture is this travelogue through twenty Italian regions.

Una storia d’amore is well organized. Each chapter covers a specific region and shows a map with that region colored in. Short descriptions come for each photographic subject. An abundance of white space punctuates the color and beauty of the pictures.

Wallis has a wonderful eye for composition, especially when it comes to villages and their points of interest. A crowded harbor at Portofino is shown with hundreds of white boats on a dazzling sapphire sea. Long shadows cast by the morning light at the Piazza Foro Traiano symbolize how ancient Rome still influences the modern world. Shots of churches, like the Chiesa del Gesù and the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi, are so breathtaking that they jump from the page.

Beyond famous sites are photographs of sights off the beaten path. Venice is captured via snaps of the Grand Canal and gondolas, but most of the photographs from that city focus on solitary back alleys, quiet neighborhoods overlooking canals, the sunny reflection of water on a bridge, and other points of contemplation.

Photographs also capture the details of Italian living, with close shots of carved water fountains, ornate house numbers, colorful café signs, and decorative marble embellishments. Captions are similarly detailed—as with one of lush palm trees on the shores of Lake Como that marvels that palm trees can be found at the foot of the Alps.

At times, the level of detail is uneven. Some pictures don’t show enough, as with a closeup of a gelato truck that takes no account of the surrounding square. A faraway picture of Villa Melai teases about its renowned botanical gardens, but there is no follow-up with pictures from that garden. Other pictures, such as worn school chairs with peeling paint, are aesthetically engaging but could be from anywhere in the world.

Una storia d’amore is a beautiful travel book, a love letter to Italy that digs beneath tourists’ tracks to highlight Italy’s rich culture and vibrant beauty. Italy has been called a dream that keeps returning; Wallis’s photographs make you never want to wake.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




The Fatness

2018-02-22T06:10:01-05:00

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★★★☆☆

The Fatness is a concept-driven story that tackles the complicated problem of public health issues.

Mark A. Rayner’s speculative fiction novel The Fatness takes society’s obsession with fitness and weight loss to task in a story about love, human dignity, and the consequences of standing up for your beliefs.

In the novel’s alternate universe, Keelan Cavanaugh is a thirty-something Canadian web developer living in a time when people with a BMI over 30 are forced to choose between admitting themselves to a Calorie Reduction Centre or losing access to their government-funded health care.

Struggling with his weight, Keelan is approaching his second anniversary at the Calorie Reduction Centre, and he is getting desperate. When the management of the Calorie Reduction Centres is transferred from the Canadian government to an American-run corporation, Weight Winners Canada, Keelan’s situation deteriorates further, and he begins to lose hope of ever getting out and rejoining society.

But through his relationship with an altruistic lawyer, Jacinda Williams, Keelan rediscovers his own self-worth and finds a new purpose in life. Together with Jacinda and his fellow CRC companions Max, Greg, and Barbara, he begins to make plans to take down Weight Winners Canada and put an end to the CRCs.

Combining storytelling with cleverly written research-based blurbs that set the theme for the upcoming chapter, the novel follows several different characters to provide insight into the corrupt system behind the Calorie Reduction Centres, from an organized gang called the Heavy Hitters to the wheeling and dealing that leads to the Weight Winners Canada takeover. It also traces a love affair between Keelan and Jacinda. Unexpected events help to maintain a certain level of anticipation.

The book’s several points of view and unpredictability are simultaneously its strength and its weakness. For much of the novel, the story lines of the different characters are given equal weight. Keelan’s story nearly gets lost among other characters and their conflicting goals, muddling the story arc. In the end, it is difficult to determine whose story is actually being told.

The plot does little in terms of character development. When a character does face a situation resembling a crucible, their decisions often end up having little consequence, placing them back where they started. Straightforward prose makes for comfortable reading, though, even through narrative roundabouts.

Surprising developments sometimes serve as plot twists, but they mostly come across as distractions. Interactions between characters are sometimes clichéd, most noticeably those between Jacinda and her boss and between Jacinda and Keelan, wherein Jacinda’s level of determination is determined by the men’s responses to her.

Exposition-laden conversations are distracting, particularly when characters overexplain things that they should already be familiar with. The novel ends prematurely, leaving the outcome of the events it set in motion unresolved.

The Fatness is a concept-driven story that tackles the complicated problem of public health issues.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Life Came to a Standstill

2018-02-21T19:08:24-05:00

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★★★★★

This is a beautifully written meditation on grief, healing, and hope.

Life Came to a Standstill is a beautiful compilation of eight stories of heartbreak and loss.

Each story is written by someone who lost either a sibling or a child, and details who was lost, how they were lost, and the crushing and inevitable sorrow of the days and months following the tragedies. The survivors’ accounts are presented to help others in similar situations to cope and heal, and to bring some light into the dark process of grieving.

Each of the narratives is devastatingly sad, yet each also maintains a hopeful note. After the unexpected death of her son, Liam, collection editor Gwendolyn Broadmore wanted to help others in similar situations; she assists here with the bibliotherapy of sharing tragedies.

Though focused on a topic generally considered off-limits, the book moves from dark feelings and intense grief into discussion and conversation, with the awareness that solace can be found in the sympathetic stories of others. Broadmore’s own story is presented alongside seven others, and it’s clear that each of the writers is working toward catharsis.

The stories may center on a common theme, but each remains special and unique. The writers aim to normalize certain survivor behaviors and thought patterns, and address issues such as how to discuss the deceased person around others, how to keep their memory alive, and when and how to reach out for help.

Grief is also shown to impact everyone differently, and these raw stories help to foster understanding about those different processes. Many of the writers are advocates of grief support groups, and discuss turning points in the timelines of their grief when they received outside help; others are encouraged to do the same.

Poems and quotes are sprinkled throughout the book, with the suggestion that reading them was a profoundly important act in the healing process; art is shown to be a strong avenue for channeling emotions and working toward calmer feelings. These additions tie the stories together, creating fluid transitions between tales.

Even through the shock of an unexpected loss and the resultant feelings of sadness that never wholly go away, turning to reading is one effective method of channeling emotion. Broadmore’s collection reflects this awareness, and aims to help others in their own times of grief. Life Came to a Standstill is a beautifully written meditation on grief, healing, and hope.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




The Way You Run in Dreams

2018-02-21T12:59:58-05:00

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★★★★☆

The Way You Run in Dreams is an attentive, ecopoetic gathering of texts that honors felt and lived experiences with a clear, defined voice.

Time and its ravages, absence, and the silent interludes before and after human encounters inform Tim Cremin’s new chapbook, The Way You Run in Dreams. Twenty-eight portraits mine the momentous from the everyday. These lean narratives reveal a naturalist’s curiosity.

Whether writing about a cougar’s retreat from a nearby wilderness—an event that inspires the poet to consider the gulf between modern life and ancient wisdom—the shifting nature of parent-child relationships, or seasonal impressions, these poems stay rooted in familiar observations. They’re often charged with a “sense that what’s ahead / has already started stirring in the ground,” which, rather than seeming prophetic or foreboding, reinforces the cyclical order of the world. There’s comfort to be found in both life and death, both celebration and mourning. The result is poetry that gathers power through the reverent act of noticing.

Direct, conversational, and following in the vein of poets such as Ted Kooser, these brief poems are appealing because of their appreciation for a variety of locales and people. They often examine memories of parents with empathy. They also capture multiple, conflicting sensations with ease, as in “Planet Anura,” where wonder and loss reveal themselves:

I wish I could save
this fountain of sonic flares

so we could share it later.
I miss it already, even though

I’m here in the middle of it happening.

At times the meanings of these expressive lines rest close to the surface. The poems don’t always take bold risks, and they seldom range beyond the limits set by their titles, which tend to signal the poem’s contents rather than expanding on them or building tension.

An exception is “Laboratory Notebook,” a poem that sets the expectation for scientific inquiry but rewardingly follows a journey through a year of wanderings. Here, a stylistic departure also stands out. The poem is set in two adjacent columns. One lists the months of the year, and the other features tercets with observations and reflections; the effect is both an orderly consideration of seasonal rhythms and a series of miniature still lifes.

The work is noteworthy for its emphasis on the earth. Even as poems mark human impacts upon the environment—such as occurs on a construction site that “grinds out its daily quota of steel noise”—they turn a sharp eye toward persistent natural beauty. A scorpion is likened to “a blade of fire / staving off ice.” In the woods, “history is written / in concentric rings.” Glacial silt in “Indian Ridge” feeds into a skillfully visual poem.

The Way You Run in Dreams is an attentive, ecopoetic gathering of texts that honors felt and lived experiences with a clear, defined voice.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Boys

2018-02-20T13:58:34-05:00

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★★★★☆

Raising difficult questions of morality, this slice-of-life narrative is as heartfelt as it is entertaining.

Scott Semegran’s Boys collects trio of fascinating stories that follow a young man in three very different stages of his life: childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Raising difficult questions of morality, this slice-of-life narrative is as heartfelt as it is entertaining.

First, Billy deals with the typical trials and tribulations of childhood, particularly playground bullies. As an adolescent, he is determined to buy his dream car for his sixteenth birthday; to do so, he gets a job at a Greek restaurant. However, as with most teenagers, he comes to realize that money doesn’t come easily even as he learns much about the world beyond the confines of the restaurant. As an adult called Seff, Billy works a dead-end job at the Pasta Warehouse with his best friend Alfonso.

The book is interesting in its construction. The first two stories, “The Great and Powerful, Brave Raideen” and “Good Night, Jerk Face,” are relatively short; they function as introductions to the third story, “The Discarded Feast,” which takes up the bulk of the narrative. This structure works with rare skill to establish how Billy arrives into adulthood as he does.

The stories ably navigate ethical questions in a way that feels true to life. Is it okay to steal if what you’re taking would otherwise just go to waste? Is it okay to physically harm someone who has hurt you? Answers remain oblique as Billy’s choices play out on the pages.

Moments of magical realism come through, as when young Billy interacts with his action figures and they seem to speak back to him. Such departures from more straightforward stories inject appealing whimsy into an otherwise realistic narrative.

The narrative voice is distinct, enlivened by personality and humor. Lines like “Alfonso chuckled in a way that a big brother chuckles at a little brother’s misfortune, knowing that I was going through something that would build character, or some stupid shit like that” are funny and serve to break up sometimes heavy descriptions of actions and places.

Educational moments unexpectedly enrich the reading experience, such as information about the civil unrest of Jamaica and Haiti in the 1960s.

The story sometimes feels like it’s taking on too much. Many interesting plotlines arise only to be abandoned without resolution to begin new scenes.

An interesting cast of unique characters inhabits Billy’s world; each has their own worldview, and their voices are easily distinguishable from one another. However, they do not develop across the work. The book’s resolution is abrupt, and many narrative arcs go unresolved.

Boys is compellingly realistic fiction. Its fantastic details, interesting construction, and humor make it worth the read.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Breaking the Shield

2018-02-20T12:01:40-05:00

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★★★★☆

Behavioral scientists, educators, and organizational leaders are all likely to benefit from this theoretical and practical text.

In their thorough book Breaking the Shield, Bahraini doctors Mohamed Buheji and Dunya Ahmed explain and explore the concept of “inspiration engineering.”

Buheji and Ahmed, the cofounders of the International Institute of Inspirational Economy, deliver a book that is perhaps most interesting because of its scientific, methodical approaches to inspiration—an attribute typically regarded as random if not accidental. The authors suggest that “inspiration engineering” already takes place in many organizations, but it is often informal and not labeled as such. They believe that inspiration can be systematically created by engineering “visualisations, observations, opportunities and discoveries.”

The book begins with a painstaking explanation of inspiration engineering as a concept. Then, it details the characteristics of individuals who could be seen as inspiration engineers. Particularly fascinating is the subsequent description of the “inspiration lab,” which is essentially a controlled environment where exploration can be conducted “without fear or boundaries until we come up with the best solution or possibilities.”

Since the uses of an inspiration lab could be quite varied, the book includes several case studies that demonstrate how the inspiration lab environment applies to very specific areas, such as social development programs or healthcare services.

The bulk of the book addresses the ways in which inspiration engineering can be useful. For example, one chapter discusses its applicability to problem solving, while another chapter describes inspiration engineering as it applies to building an entrepreneurial culture. The authors also talk about creating an “inspiration currency,” which refers not to money but rather to other valuable characteristics such as technical expertise or organizational knowledge. Again, specific case studies help make the abstract idea of inspiration currency more understandable.

The end of the book concentrates on applying inspiration engineering on a broader scale—for example, the authors show how to develop an “inspiring business model” and examine how inspiration labs can be used in governments. An extensive bibliography is included, along with appendices that provide further detailed information and real-world applications.

It should be pointed out that some of the material is challenging to understand. While this is due in part to the conceptual nature of inspiration engineering itself, the complexity of the subject matter and the formal use of language contribute to the level of comprehension difficulty. Grammatical errors hamper the book’s readability. On the positive side, numerous graphic charts help to explain the text, and the multiple case studies go a long way to demonstrate how inspiration engineering and inspiration labs can be put into practice.

From both a theoretical and a practical perspective, this book demonstrates very clearly that Buheji and Ahmed are expert authorities on the topic of inspiration engineering. Behavioral scientists, educators, and organizational leaders are all likely to benefit from Breaking the Shield.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Power Tools for Health

2018-02-20T06:10:01-05:00

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★★★★☆

Power Tools for Health is highly recommended for those seeking alternatives to traditional medical treatments.

William Pawluk and Caitlin Layne’s Power Tools for Health is an exhaustively researched overview of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy. It balances its ideological argument with a practical guide.

The book is intuitively structured and broken into five sections. The first contains background on magnetic fields and an overview of how PEMFs work; the second looks at the ways PEMFs physically affect the body.

The next section applies that discussion to a list of health conditions, including addiction, cancer, and wounds. The final two sections are a helpful guide for researching, purchasing, and using a PEMF system. They are designed to fit any budget, lifestyle, and health concern.

The book is careful not to claim that PEMF therapy is a miracle cure; instead, it examines how the approach works with other therapies, reduces the risk of common side effects, and helps prevent or mitigate a range of health concerns.

The writing is endearingly grounded and personal. In the introduction, Pawluk discusses how he faced ridicule and censure in the medical community for pursuing his research. While alternative therapies can often cause initial skepticism, the book confidently dispels any lingering doubts about the effectiveness of PEMF by explaining each of its points in full, often with clear illustrations.

Each example shows how the system works against a specific health concern, what it does physiologically, and how it can work in conjunction with other therapies. Specific PEMF devices are discussed to help the reader navigate the marketplace, but it never feels like a sales pitch, and care is taken to provide both the benefits and drawbacks of each product. The result is balanced, objective, and helpful.

The book is professionally presented and surprisingly approachable for such a dense topic. Some sections, like a discussion of the therapy’s physiological effects, are understandably technical, but background information is provided when needed and the introduction to the science of the machines is practical and clear. A massive list of over five hundred reference sources provides avenues for further research. The tone fits the topic throughout, even if in some places the writing is bogged down by the level of detail and can be a little dry.

Power Tools for Health may not appeal to those married to Western medicine, but for readers with an open mind, there is a great deal to learn here. It is highly recommended for those seeking alternatives to traditional treatments or anyone looking to broaden their understanding of new therapies.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




The Dirty-Minded Christian

2018-02-19T13:50:13-05:00

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★★★☆☆

The Dirty-Minded Christian is a self-help book for the spiritually minded that offers healthy and appropriate tools for personal change.

The Dirty-Minded Christian from Kirk and Linda Thomas pairs mindfulness and pop psychology with evangelical Christian teachings, resulting in a warmhearted self-help book.

The book draws from the authors’ ADAPT² system—an acronym for Attitude, Discipline, Action, Patience, Training, and Trust—to encourage ending negative thinking and harmful self-talk to instead focus one’s energy on embracing more biblical ideas.

Concentrating on its core ADAPT² ideas, the book employs biblical notions, references, and illustrations to build its case for change. For example, it draws from Ephesians to discuss being “made new” and mixes lines from Proverbs with a mindful call for patience. Each idea is described in a sermon-like style, bolstered by scriptural references and personal anecdotes.

Writing reflects both authors’ voices, with the Thomases taking turns narrating sections. Each author explores their own struggles, such as gambling and depression, and shows how the ADAPT² system helped them refocus their lives, priorities, and dreams. The couple’s struggles are paired with a deep sense of reliance on God.

The book’s style is light and punchy, reminiscent of a blog. Each chapter is broken up into bite-sized sections, often set apart with quirky headlines and framed with real-world or pop-culture references. For example, a chapter on attitude includes such topics as “baggage is meant for vacation” and “make self talk your BFF.” Other chapters include fictional Q&As, bulleted lists, and cartoons. Taken together, the material is easy to understand and very approachable.

In addition to this light material, the book employs psychological studies and references popular psychology books like Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. At one point, it references an Associated Press poll to show the United States is an impatient nation. Such references are interesting but simplistic, functioning more as sermon illustrations than psychological proofs. This book is as much about soul cleansing as it is a work of self-help.

Structurally, ADAPT² functions as an effective memory device to help refocus a believer’s efforts and life choices, and its principles can be easily put into practice. The book makes a convincing argument that virtues like patience and discipline can be treated as life techniques and that practicing them can lead to great personal changes or help with handling challenges, including depression and divorce.

The Dirty-Minded Christian is a self-help book for the spiritually minded that offers healthy and appropriate tools for personal change.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Legacy of a King

2018-02-19T11:17:17-05:00

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★★★★☆

Legacy of a King is an intriguing, immersive love story set in magical and medieval times.

Charlene Sponsel’s Legacy of a King is a spellbinding tale of medieval life, love, and politics with magic woven in throughout.

Lili is used to living simply, particularly since she lost her mother and her father lost his fortune in the Elderman’s War. The circumstances of her world considered, her beauty and kind soul may be the key to a better life.

Lili lives in a time that regards marrying well to be a girl’s greatest possible accomplishment. As such, she is expected to marry up to save her family. But the prospects available to her are not ones that will make her happy. Life is further complicated when she falls for Cam, the youngest son of the king to whom she is betrothed. Her respect for the previous queen makes the betrothal all the more difficult.

Intrigue runs high. Lili looks to confide in someone, anyone, who might make her more comfortable in her new life without risking betrayal. Others view and use her as a pawn, without regard to what she might want for herself.

Lili is a consistently conflicted character who is engrossingly developed. She is always worried about what is best for those she cares about. Cam is a refreshing and sympathetic love interest. His past is well explored, and he has a depth of personality. He develops in an empathetic and realistic way, growth that is documented well in the span of the story. Other characters are similarly complex even within their supporting roles.

The novel’s play on the theme of star-crossed lovers works well, and Cam and Lili’s relationship is excellently paced. Theirs is less a love-at-first-sight connection than it is a bond that develops over time, complicated by the attachments that both of them feel to other people. Nothing is easy for them, though the complications of their relationship never read as overdone.

Medieval society is aptly drawn and embellished with elements of the mystical. A character’s betrothed is more often referred to as a “mate,” which creates an interesting relationship dynamic. Looks are also not traditional for the characters; hair and skin are often depicted with more unusual colors than those normally found in nature.

The story moves at a quick, fluid pace across its nineteen years. These years are tracked via chapter titles, without which the timeline would be confusing. Each event leads naturally into another.

Legacy of a King is an intriguing, immersive love story set in a world much like our medieval one, with revitalized aspects that give it a touch of the magical.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




The Rocket Girl's Tale

2018-02-19T11:16:54-05:00

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★★★☆☆

The Rocket Girl’s Tale is an appealing story of love, intrigue, and shooting for the stars.

K. Hippolite’s The Rocket Girl’s Tale is an intriguing work of science fiction led by a heroine who knows her values, though she doesn’t know her past. Love and magic come into play as she works to remember her background and to take control of her own destiny.

Reiki is a beautiful young woman who has just received two unwanted things: a rejection letter and a proposal. Running away from both brings her to Arthur Galenden, a man with money and a reputation.

When Reiki mentions the problems she’s been having with her boyfriend, Arthur senses an opportunity. When he first tries to woo her, though, she turns him down. His feelings are only complicated when a powerful woman sets her sights on him; turning her down would be a social disaster. The complication, though, opens up another chance for Arthur to pursue Reiki.

Reiki is drawn to Arthur initially, but details about him are revealed that turn her attraction to disgust. Arthur can’t forget her, but she is certain that he doesn’t actually care. As Reiki evades Arthur, the powerful woman who wants him decides that Reiki must pay for Arthur’s interest. All of this is only complicated when Reiki, in order to keep information with wide implications from falling into the wrong hands, is forced to lose her memory.

As the triangle unfolds, each new layer of the story proves more complex than the last. Reiki is a more complex heroine than she initially appears to be, with a past that is rich and storied. Arthur, though he initially seems to be all money and charm, is also deeper than appearances, and his slowly revealed kindness makes him a dynamic lead.

At times, Reiki’s interactions with the men in her life veer into Mary Sue tropes; everyone finds her beautiful and wants her. But her rich characterization prevents the story from becoming clichéd. She is not a prop in men’s plotlines; she lives and acts for herself.

Reiki’s intriguing past is revealed in tantalizing bits and pieces, though the story focuses more on her present and her attempts to regain self-knowledge after her imposed memory loss—with Arthur’s help.

Though in many ways Reiki’s story is a romance, the science-fiction aspects of the story are often more intriguing. Her aspirations to travel through space and her unique abilities lead to a layered story. Reiki’s is a universe that operates under a fascinating set of rules.

The Rocket Girl’s Tale is an appealing story of love, intrigue, and shooting for the stars.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Blissful Blues

2018-02-16T12:57:01-05:00

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★★★★☆

Blissful Blues is a youthful, playful collection that works through a failed romance toward self-discovery.

In her heartfelt collection Blissful Blues, poet Rhea Madan explores youthful love, longing, and loss.

The opening poem paints the portrait of a young woman, a “girl … in love with love.” While the poems may not be intentionally linked, the verses in Blissful Blues capture the end of a romantic relationship, with that theme touched on with enough frequency to create a developed story. Verses talk about exams and university as well as roommates and family, providing a setting, conflict, and characterization.

Madan captures a range of emotions in her poems. At first, they convey longing and sadness, then they exude relief and joy at moving past the breakup. Poems also cover occasional backsliding, sometimes into doubt and anger, sometimes back into love after seeing the object of her affection again.

Verses capture the fragility of resumed life after a breakup and the uncertainty of being single; they are universally sympathetic. While some poems veer into expressing unhealthy codependency, the joy of the collection is that its poems work toward a healthier truth. In the end, the narrator is her own best friend, moving on and discovering herself.

Blissful Blues isn’t only about star-crossed love. Other poems express happiness at having supportive roommates and a loving family. In one poem, Madan captures a street scene in Delhi; in another, she discusses racial prejudice. One powerful poem explores what it’s like to have a final visit with a friend in the hospital. Such poems lend the collection greater depth and a sense of a coherent world view.

From a technical standpoint, poems play with a variety of rhyme schemes. They evince a talent for unusually paired rhymes, as with the connection of “integral” to “lethal.” In parts of the collection, rhyming is entirely disregarded, exchanged for interesting breaks in verses and even the plain prose of microfiction.

In playful turns, the collection produces one-line poems that consist entirely of alliterative words. “A Literary Three” runs “Crazy chaos causes captivating creations.” Such lines evade digging deeper, though. The collection is strongest when it converts the feelings behind its verses into more tactile dramatic scenes and noun-rich action.

Blissful Blues is a youthful, playful collection that works through a failed romance, moving into the mature discovery of the greatest kind of love—of one’s self. Such movements of self-realization put the bliss into Blissful Blues.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




The Templar Legacy

2018-02-16T09:26:01-05:00

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★★★★☆

The Templar Legacy is a smart, riveting historical adventure that piques interest in the time following the Crusades.

In Peter Tallon’s riveting historical adventure The Templar Legacy, two Englishmen accompany the last remaining members of the Order of the Temple to the Holy Land in 1424. Their goal is to help secure an infamous treasure in hopes of financing their country’s long, ongoing war with France.

Captain Richard Calveley has been fighting and living in France for eight years when the English prince asks him to travel to Pilgrim’s Castle and retrieve its hidden treasure. A parallel story line focuses on Calveley’s friend Father Hugh, the steward of Calveley’s family land in England, who has succumbed to worldly vices to the detriment of his work. The story oscillates between the two, with more emphasis given to Calveley’s arduous undertaking.

The writing is intelligent. Characters are described in physical and psychological detail, as with a knight who can see out of only one brown eye, or a villainous henchman who is described as hairy and troll-like. History is approached with a similar attention to detail, down to capturing weapons, clothing, customs, and religions. Definitions of less-familiar words are subtly woven into the text.

Battles between the French and English are both interesting and educational, showing how soldiers—who fought for little or no pay—usually took their reward in plunder and ransom. Real-life characters and events are explained in an informative but never overly solicitous manner. Two maps are helpfully included to illuminate Calveley’s journey.

The long, drawn-out process by which a leading Templar and Calveley cajole, scheme, and bribe their way across the Mediterranean Sea is gripping. Interesting characters are introduced along the way, including Chaim ben Issachar and his eighteen-year-old daughter, Ruth, and the dauntless Captain Dandolo.

Dandolo’s Italian dialect is memorable, and dialogue generally feels contextualized and authentic. The plot remains suspenseful throughout the nonstop travails of Calveley, the knights, and other members of their group, and includes gripping scenes such as when they are besieged by Turks on land and pirates at sea.

Adventures and villainy continue to the end as Calveley returns to France, setting characters up for the next book in the series. Some information from the first book is recounted here to fill in pertinent background, but it is not necessary to have read the first volume in order to enjoy and understand this one.

The Templar Legacy is a smart, riveting historical adventure that piques interest in the time following the Crusades.

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