Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V) by Josh Holliday Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The struggle of illegal immigrants entering the United States gets a new perspective in author Josh Holliday’s novel “Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V)”. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

A (Memoir of Migrant Forced To Travel 2,000 Miles From El Salvador Atop Trains & Swim The Rio Grand River) and other True stories of migrants travels and troubles and prices they had to pay to reach the Mexican/American border; then how they managed to sneak across and enter the U.S. complete with 50 Color Images to enhance the stories.

The Review

Now in full disclosure to the audience and the author, I myself lean more to a democrat way of thinking and political mindset than Republican. I mention this not because I like talking about it often, but in this day and age there are many topics that I feel need to be spoken about in an open and honest way. This book brings up a major topic of debate that is incredibly relevant and needs to be discussed. Before I begin I want to applaud the author for contributing 25% of proceeds to help children caught up in the illegal immigration struggle. No matter what side you fall all, everyone should agree that children are innocent and shouldn’t be persecuted.

The author does a great job of highlighting the struggles of immigrants entering the United States illegally. While it may be illegal, the horrors they face in their home country forces these innocent people to flee for their lives, believing in the promise the US once represented of hope and a beacon for all the world to look up to. Sadly because of their desperation and need for safety, others take advantage of their situation. From the tight border patrol agents doing what is mandated and capturing anyone crossing the border, to the criminal “coyotes” and those running stash houses for immigrants who mistreat those crossing the border and keep them for days or even weeks until they are paid.

For me as a reader and reviewer, I must approach this and look at the topic from my own belief in a democratic society. The need to help and stop the heinous mistreatment of immigrants and the horrible policies of the current US administration is something I fully believe in. While a system of vetting immigrants is smart, locking up and separating children from their families and punishing those seeking to escape violence and persecution (i.e. abused women and children, young men seeking to escape gangs who want them to join them, families fleeing police brutality, etc) is horrendous and needs to be stopped.

The difficult thing is this topic can be very divisive, as are all politics. While I personally feel immigration and the current state of immigration shouldn’t be politicized, it’s the way things are for now. We are talking about peoples lives here, and we should be respectful and willing to lend a hand. The propaganda surrounding immigration can be discounted with a little bit of research and open mindedness. While I am a democrat, pro-Obama person, I try to keep an open mind and look at things from both sides. Yes gang violence in South America is a problem, as are drugs. Yet not all illegal immigrants are part of the problem. Instead they are seeking to escape those problems, and if given the chance could help improve our nation as a whole. We are a country of immigrants after all, who settled here (and conquered, let’s face it), seeking to escape persecution themselves, do we not owe it to the people south of the border to give them that same chance?

This review is a lot longer than most, but I feel passionately about this topic and live in a time where one cannot be silent and sit on the sidelines. I applaud the author for showing both sides of the immigration struggle, as it shows that no matter what our differences may be, the recognition of great injustice and the need for acceptance is a universal trait we can all get behind. While there are a handful of grammatical errors that could be improved in future novels, this first entry into the series showcases the author’s commitment and detailed research into the topic. Impressively the stories told reflect the real life struggles of many immigrants, both from the point of fleeing their homes to being trapped by criminals on both sides of the border and the hardships they have to endure for most of their life because of their “illegal” status.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fascinating read. While I may disagree on some points from a political belief’s standpoint, I do agree that immigration is an issue that needs a fair, safe and caring approach. I think the author did a great job of showcasing the struggles of immigrants based on his interviews with some of those immigrants. If anything, this book makes me yearn for the day where we can truly be a nation of equals, no matter what your race, gender, sexual orientation, or even nation of origin. I believe in the original idea for the United States, which was to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. While the nation has it’s dark moments in history, (like we face now), I have to hold onto hope for a brighter, more accepting and peaceful tomorrow. If you haven’t yet pick up your copy of Josh Holliday’s “Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V)” today!

Rating: 7/10

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1129615945?ean=2940156146307

About the Author

Josh is a former carpet layer and carpenter who lived and worked in California from 1970 to 2000. He now lives in Florida where he divides his time between writing interesting books, managing Real Estate part-time and playing the Blues-Harmonica.

Additionally he plays bottleneck guitar and writes songs.

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Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch by R.D. Crist Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A chilling and fantastic new look at the YA Fantasy genre, author R.D. Crist is set to release “Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch”. The first in a series, this new YA adventure takes a classic supernatural group of individuals and gives them a brand new spin. Here is the synopsis:

Synopsis

After the unexplainable death of her mother on the eve of Natalie’s fourteenth birthday, she is suddenly forced to grow up. Compelled to leave her dismal and deceptive life behind by a mysterious woman who claims to be an old relative, Natalie carries with her the highly coveted, scarlet stoned ring she reluctantly retrieved from her mother upon her death. 

Following Natalie’s irreversible decision, she unexpectedly finds herself alone and thrust into a peculiar all female orphanage where her arrival was strangely anticipated by the inhabitants, and greeted by some with ire. Ultimately, young Natalie must quickly learn to fend for herself against bullies, unexplained forces, a male suitor, and something lurking for revenge. Does she have both the strength and resolve, and can she set the past aside, to uncover the secrets necessary in order to fulfill her destiny?

The Review

This novel was fantastic. With the YA genre stronger than ever before, the author has found a way to not only create compelling characters and a heart-wrenching story, but make the story have a fresh twist in the YA Fantasy world. The story follows a classic young woman thrust into a hidden world theme, but takes this theme and pairs it with the emotional realm of loss and what children experience after the loss of a parent.

What I really enjoyed was how the author managed to not pit two different groups of supernaturals against one another, but instead showed how a group of supernaturals can have division within itself, and how there are good and bad people in any group. The writing was evenly paced, descriptive and yet left readers with enough space to imagine the scenarios in the novel playing out. The action started from the first page and only escalated from there, leaving readers on the edge of their seat as they waited to learn the secrets of this orphanage and where Natalie truly belonged.

The Verdict

This is a must read for any YA Fantasy fan. With fall approaching and the Halloween season approaching, this is the perfect book for YA fans to jump into to begin their holiday adventures in literature. A powerful story that promises an engaging and shocking series, author R.D. Crist has done a fantastic job of creating a world worth diving head first into, and I for one cannot wait for the next book’s arrival. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch today!

Rating: 10/10

Here is the book website: www.scarletreignbooks.com

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41555714-scarlet-reign

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlet-Reign-Malice-Dark-Witch-ebook/dp/B07GTPZ4KN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537547997&sr=8-1&keywords=scarlet+reign+malice+of+the+dark+witch

Author Bio

R.D. Crist is a psychotherapist who generates creativity via long walks and majestic views of nature. True inspiration to write, however, derives from personal hardships that have sparked a desire to help others manage life’s various struggles.

Although R.D. Crist has only released one book, three have been written and several more begun, which span a variety of genres.  The focus of these stories are intended to center on Crist’s favorite dynamics of a story – personal conflict, relationship development, inner growth, and social revelation.  Each story is created with a greater purpose to stimulate a person to reflect on common challenges, be they personal, interactive, or in principle.

Childhood influences include Ray Bradbury stories and character conflict movies like Twelve Angry Men.

Socializing, listening to people’s stories, spending time with family, and relentlessly exercising (as if those last ten pounds cared) are some of Crist’s favorite ways to pass the day.

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Interview with Author Karl Steam

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?’’

                Once upon a time, I wanted to be a park ranger and wildlife photographer. Camping, fishing, and canoeing were my favorite pastimes. I liked to learn about nature and often checked out national geographic documentaries from the city library. The things I learned inspired me to write a few nonfiction animal books as a kid. I would staple paper together, write interesting facts about a particular species, and illustrate my books with cut out magazine pictures. To this day, nature influences most of the things I write.

               During middle school a teacher told my class that kids can do anything. He once had a student who wrote a book and a different student of his could take apart a lawnmower, put it back together again, and it would still work. I wasn’t interested in lawnmowers, but I did like the idea of writing a book. I figured if some other kid could do it, I could too.

               I tried writing my first novel a few months later. It wasn’t very good. O.K., it was horrible. I gave up after a couple pages and decided to postpone my writing career until I had a few high school writing classes under my belt.

               I wrote off and on for many years, but never seriously. I told myself in high school that I would have more time to write once I was in college. In college I told myself I would write more once I graduated. After graduating, I married and had children. One day a story came to mind, but I told myself that I would have more time to write it once my kids were grown. That’s when I realized I was on the path to becoming an old man, who shakes his head and wonders why he never wrote a book.

               I write more often now. Don’t take my word for it though. Go check out the stories I’ve published.

2) What inspired you to write your book series?

The concept for the Kids vs. Nature series began after I read an article about someone who had been lost in a forest while cross country skiing. The article’s author considered this person’s experience to be an example of a great survival story. Yes, the person did survive a one-night ordeal in a forest, but I disagreed with the notion that it was a great example of surviving in the wilderness.

                The main concern of the lost person was that they would freeze to death during the night, so they continuously skied throughout the ordeal to generate body heat and stay warm while they spoke to their spouse on a cell phone. As the night wore on, the person still could not figure out what trail they were on and began to get tired of skiing. They were also thirsty and feared that without water they would become dehydrated and die, and this fear continued to be a concern until the person was eventually discovered by rescuers.

                Nowhere in the article did the writer point out that this person was skiing, which means there was snow on the ground which could have been eaten to hydrate the lost person. Nor did they point out to readers that it’s typically recommended to remain in one location if you’re lost in the wilderness, so that you don’t wander further way from your original location. This makes it easier for rescuers to find you, especially if you have a cell phone and are able to alert others of your predicament.

                Now, can I say for sure that I would have remained calm and thought clearly if encountered with a similar situation? No, and this person did survive so I applaud them for everything they did do right. However, I couldn’t help but think that I would have handed the situation differently, and the reason why is because I had read so many wilderness survival stories as a child.

Through stories such as Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Sign of the Beaver, I learned a considerable amount about surviving in the wilderness. Tactics to for staying warm, creating shelters, and how to obtain fresh water. Though I have never had to put this knowledge to practice, I do believe that if I were to find myself stranded in the wilderness my odds of survival would be much greater due everything I have learned.

This realization gave me a deeper appreciation for the literature I read as a child. I realized these stories had the power to help save people’s lives. This made me wonder what other survival stories were on the market today. What new stories are captivating young readers and providing them with similar information.

I was surprised and disappointed to discover that very few popular books have been published in this genre throughout the past twenty years. Most of the top sellers continue to be the same stories I read as a child. So, I decided to contribute to the genre and create some fresh stories for those that share my interest in action, adventure, and the great outdoors. That day I began to develop the plot of the Kids vs. Nature series, and I think they do a good job of accomplishing the goals I set out to achieve.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your books?

Like any good book or series there are multiple themes and messages I hope readers take away from these books. The main one, as mentioned before, is that I hope readers learn things that will help them to survive similar situations, should they every become lost in the wilderness. A lot of factual information and strategies have been added to the back of each book in order to help accomplish this goal. I also tried not to sensationalize the stories too much. Most of the situations the characters encounter remain simple and realistic to things average people might experience in real life.

                Because the characters in the series encounter many different ecosystems, I also designed the books be informative. Readers will be able to learn about different animals, plants, and environments.

                Lastly, there are various social issues involved in the stories. Friendships, social group dynamics, and bullying are matters frequently encountered throughout the series. Characters have to work through prior perceptions of one another in order to grow and develop from one book to another. Hopefully readers can relate to some of these issues and find the lessons that the characters learn to be applicable in their own lives.

4) If you could sit down with any character in your book series, what would you ask them and why?

I would like to sit with Tyler. He’s an odd, quirky guy but has a lot of admirable traits. I wouldn’t have anything particular to ask him. I’d rather sit and listen to him talk.

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m not active on social media. Perhaps I should be. Writing time is precious. To get writing done you have to chose not to do other things. Limiting social media and television are two main ways that I carve out time during the week to make progress on my stories.

I have a website where readers message me. They also send letters in the mail. As far as developing readership goes, most authors will say that the best way to gain readers is to publish more books. I’m still beginning my writing career, but hopefully when people read stories like the Kids vs. Nature series they will want to go back and read others I have written, like Purple Pup. If they really enjoy these stories, perhaps they’ll tell others about them too. Theoretically, the more stories I complete the more opportunities new readers will have to find my works.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Do what you can to dedicate some time to this. Don’t expect your first writings to be very good either. It usually takes many years to develop your skills. Expect your first book or two to be unworthy of publishing. This is normal. Keep trying until you finish one that is.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently writing a young adult historical fiction novel. It takes place during the most recent ice age and will feature Paleo-Indian characters. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say what the future holds. I will continue to write and focus on projects that inspire me the most.

Leading In The First Person by Shawn Abrams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Ray Croc once said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” Often a leader is unable to lead until they learn to lead themselves in the right direction first. A sense of self will help a leader get a sense of others. That’s the goal author Shawn Abrams hopes to give future leaders in his novel, Leading in the First Person. Here’s the synopsis:

Leading in the First Person is a must read for those in leadership positions and those who would embrace it. The cover of this book holds the 5 Lead statements that leaders must concern themselves with on the way to success. Reading this book will allow you to: 

• Recognize critical leadership mistakes and how to recover from them quickly 

• Successfully lead your life instead of following it 

• Build rather than just maintain relationships 

• Shape your vision and influence others to follow it 

• Review effective mentoring and coaching techniques 

Leading is an act but leadership is a discipline! It’s hard work and sometimes unforgiving but very necessary. 

What really stuck with me reading this book was the core concept of a leader isn’t telling someone what to do, but inspiring them and motivating them to do something. As a writer that’s the goal I set out every day with my stories, to inspire and motivate people to pick up a book, get lost in a story and see the overlying theme and message the novel implies. Shawn Abrams does an amazing job relaying this concept to his audience.

Using personal stories to relate to the subject, the author delves into everything from the power of secrets, overselling and respect vs courtesy. It shows future leaders and aspiring leaders how to not only separate themselves from the pack, but to lead others to be the best possible version of themselves. It’s written in a relatable way, while relaying key information that is crucial for future leaders everywhere.

Overall this was a brilliant, well written novel filled with critical details and great techniques leaders everywhere should have. It’s a novel of trust, honesty and the best way to motivate others and instill a sense of self in your leadership skills. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy Leading In The First Person by Shawn Abrams today!

Rating: 10/10

ABOUT THE BOOK AND THE AUTHOR

Leading In The First Person by Shawn Abrams

This book represents a movement of leaders who are not afraid to lead themselves first and others well!

This is Shawn’s first book. He has served his country, his community and now he wants to serve leaders the world over with this message: Lead In The First Person. He is passionate about leadership, relationships, business development and customer service.

Summary about book

Don’t live your day, lead your day! 

Don’t follow your problems, lead them to resolution!

Don’t just parent your children, lead them!

Don’t find someone else to lead you, lead yourself!

Make your next goal to read and implement the findings of  this book!

Leadership is a skill that not everyone has. But it is a skill that can be taught and learned and constantly improved upon, given the right direction. Good leadership can save companies and relationships.

Learn the difference between managers and leaders.

In his book, Leading in the First Person, Shawn Abrams uses the experiences he has gathered through several years of army service, working in corporate America and through non-profit work as well, to show you what it means to lead!

Get a copy today. 

SHAWN ABRAMS

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This book will explore why leaders fail. Develop and improve your team’s performance by

improving your relationships with them. Identify ways leaders sabotage their success.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FYVNW87/ref=x_gr_w_glide?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41035083-leading-in-the-first-person?ac=1&from_search=true&tag=x_gr_w_glide-20

https://abrams360media.com/

The Bagman’s Buddies by Josh Holliday Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Corrupt politicians and a massive FBI operation bring author Josh Holliday’s novel The Bagman’s Buddies to life in a thrilling investigation like no other. Here is the synopsis:

This book recounts the likely events and explosive encounters that happened in the nightime as well as the day time during a ‘Sting’ Operation against Tennessee legislators and Senators.

Some plead guilty and some took it to trial and were found guilty. Most of them squirmed trying to get out of it before it went down.

Complete with many Color Images to portray the events.

The investigation and subsequent book written here delves into the realm of political thriller and crime drama, showing the corruption and power struggle within the Tennessee government. The book starts off with a literal bang, showing the dark depths these government officials are willing to go to in order to cover up their deceptions, and by book’s end readers will see who cooperated, who tried to slink away and who stayed to fight to bring this corruption to light. Based on true stories of an actual sting operation in the area, the author does a great job exploring the various aspects of the investigation and those involved, from the undercover agents working as the infamous “bagmen” to the surveillance crew, the victims who found themselves double crossed and the Senators themselves.

The only advice or criticism I would offer for the author would be separating dialogue from the other paragraphs and implementing quotations. This addition can help the story flow more freely and naturally. Other than that the book was well written and told the story well. The use of visuals highlighted the investigation perfectly, creating a natural flow to the story that doesn’t always translate in other books.

Overall this was an amazing read. Filled with humor, relatable characters and a fascinating political thriller that will have readers eager to dive into the case this novel is based on. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Josh Holliday’s The Bagman’s Buddies today!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bagmans-buddies-josh-holliday/1129597519?ean=2940156096831

Surviving Desert View (Kids vs. Nature, #2) by Karl Steam Review

The four kids who stumbled into a mysterious app that transported them into the wilderness find themselves stuck in the app’s web in author Karl Steam’s latest novel, Surviving Desert View, book 2 of the middle school book series Kids vs. Nature. Here’s the synopsis:

Josh and three of his sixth-grade classmates find themselves stranded in the wilderness, again. Surviving in a forest was one thing. Can they survive a desert too?

Their situation takes a turn for the worse when they realize that their previous wilderness adventure was not an isolated experience. Not only do they need to complete another mission to get back home, but they need to find a way to prevent any more missions from happening. 

The mystery of the app and it’s ability to transport these children into harrowing situations grows in this second novel. The character development ramps up in this second outing, with the protagonist finding his specific knowledge coming into play throughout this novel.

The novel does a great job of bringing the visuals together with the story in a natural way. The story flows smoothly and makes the book a quick yet engaging read. The magic or power of this app and it’s mysterious origins bring this story to life in new and exciting ways, and by book’s end you will be eager to jump into the next book.

Overall this was a wonderful read. Full of adventure, knowledge and an amazing hook that brings middle school readers into the study of survival in a new and inventive way. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of book two in the series, Surviving Desert View by Karl Steam today!

Check out our review of book one in the series here!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D9JFB7W/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07D9JFB7W&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Surviving Moose Lake (Kids vs. Nature, #1) by Karl Steam Review

Four middle school students who couldn’t be more different find themselves stuck together and forced to learn how to survive in the wild in author Karl Steam’s Surviving Moose Lake, the first in the seven book Kids vs. Nature series. Here’s the synopsis:

Getting placed in a lousy group for a class assignment is bad enough, but it’s a thousand times worse when you get stranded in the wilderness with that group. Will Josh and three of his sixth-grade classmates have the skills they need to survive the wilderness? Will they all make it home alive?

Surviving Moose Lake is the first book of the Kids vs. Nature series. It provides an entertaining mixture of danger, adventure, factual information, and life lessons that are best learned in the great outdoors—far away from adults and school classrooms.

The book reminded me of a middle grade version of Jumanji, with an educational, learn survival skills element to it. Middle school kids will find themselves able to relate to these characters with ease. Each student brings a specific part of the school social hierarchy to life, and the book does a great job of breaking down the barriers that separate these students in an effort to survive together.

The mix of realistic and animated photos with the developing plot made the story flow smoothly, creating an engaging yet fast read that middle school children will enjoy. The author also did a great job of including educational facts about survival and the animals they encounter in the story at the end of the book, providing an interesting way to get reader’s attention and educate at the same time.

Overall the first book in this series began strong. It drew the reader in quickly, and by books end the promise of a growing series of stories makes this a truly marvelous series that parents will want to get their children. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Surviving Moose Lake by Karl Steam today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D9HNLJG/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07D9HNLJG&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2