Book Review: Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons by Sam Brand

Title: Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons
Author: Sam Brand
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am trapped in the marathon world.

Help!! I cannot find any way to escape the marathon jungle world.

Stop being a case study in the runner’s world.

Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons will lead you towards a new direction so you will be able to find a way to escape from the world of marathons and move on to a new, positive sporting life.

Sam Brand thinks that the peak of the marathons may have been reached. Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons will show you the way to reinvent yourself, to become a new you, with the 26.2 loving thoughts that will change your running world.

Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons is Sam Brand’s philosophy behind sports and happiness.

You can shape your world, become a dolphin, all other animals are already taken.

Go for the human dolphin’s magic life.

So, apparently, according to Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons there are different types of people aka animals: Human Ants, who are running marathons, Human Dolphins who exercise regularly but are not overly obsessed with exercising, and Human Chimps, who do little to no exercise.

Okay, so admittingly, I’m a chimp and nowhere near Dolphin or Ant territory, although I would like to be a Dolphin, and it’s been on my new year’s resolution list for years to start exercising regularly. But something always comes up and by now, I’m an expert at finding excuses why I should not exercise, ranging from lack of time to lack of space to lack of whatever-I-can-come-up-with-at-the-time.

The book is quite simple and straightforward. It promotes running and exercise but with measure, and stresses that people shouldn’t overdo it, which sounds like a healthy approach to me.

Book Review: When I Fall, I Shall Rise by Dan Shtauber

Title: When I Fall, I Shall Rise
Author: Dan Shtauber
Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It all began in 1944 when the Germans occupied Hungary. This is when Risa Shtauber’s life turned from an ordinary life to one of surviving unspeakable horrors.
Risa was shipped together with many other Jews to the Oradea Ghetto and from there to the Plaszow Labor Camp and later to the Ober-Altstadt Labor camp. And even this was not enough… Risa was sent to the Auschwitz Death Camp to be slaughtered!
But, she survived!
Having survived, she met her husband – Mordechai Tzvi and they created a family which included 4 sons, 22 grandkids and 34 great-grandkids!
At the age of 94 and living her life in Israel, she still feels victorious when remembering those horrible years!
This book is a special gift given to Risa Shtauber during an emotional event, in the presence of all of her descendants: sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I’ve read quite a few memoirs of holocaust survivors last year, and although the subject matter is harsh and depressing, I still enjoy reading them – for in every story, there’s a glimpse of hope, there’s a portrayal of hidden strength that allowed the author to survive and perhaps even more astonishing, that allowed them to live, to continue on living life, even after all the horrors they have witnessed.

Risa Shtauber is one of these survivors, a brave young man who was shipped to the Oradea Ghetto, along with many other Jews, and then was later dispatched to the Plaszow Labor Camp and Ober-Altstadt Labor Camp and eventually to arguably the most famous camp of them all: Auschwitz.

The fact that Risa survived is nothing short of a miracle. In this book, Dan Shtauber interviewed his grandmother, Risa, and was able to write down her experience through these harrowing, traumatizing years. The book was a gift from the grandson to the grandmother, and that alone already makes it unique and inspiring. Risa is truly an awe-inspiring woman, and she definitely deserves such a thoughtful gift. It’s heartwarming to know that, even in the most terrible darkness, the strength of a human soul can survive and hold on to the light. When I Fall, I Shall Rise is a fitting, inspiring title for this memoir.

Book Review: As You Witch by Erin R. Bedford

Title: As You Witch
Author: Erin R. Bedford
Genre: Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Witches
Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?
When Max gets a magic amulet that makes nearly every desire come true, she’ll learn the truth of be careful what you wish for.
However, magical hijinks aren’t all that Max has to worry about. With her hard-working parents strained to pay her tuition, Max’s only chance to stay in Winchester Academy is to win the scholarship at the big school fair. Of course, to win, she has to beat her bully of a rival, wow the entire school, and juggle four guys vying for her attention.
Nothing a few wishes, a little magic, and a lot of luck can’t handle … she hopes!

I previously reviewed the first book in the series, Witching on a Star. That wasn’t a success by any means – I rated it 2,5 stars, and while I had high hopes for a reverse harem set in a witching academy, my hopes fell flat and the book was a bit of a dissapointment.

Still, I picked up book two, As You Witch, because I wanted to see if it would get any better. The series has a lot of potential, it just never executes it well, so I thought that maybe some of those kinks would’ve gotten fixed in book two. Alas, no such luck, and I even liked this one less than the first one.

This book was filled with unnecessary drama from the start until the end. With a million possible options to pick villains when your book is set in a witching world, the author keeps on using the mean girl as a villain. It’s dull and predictable. The dialogue is so bad that I had to roll my eyes at every other sentence. Max is immature, childish, entitled, and the guys she’s supposedly in love with are so bland and boring even I wouldn’t be able to keep them apart.

There is no conflict. There’s nothing really at stake. The relationships are too perfect – these four guys are instantly OK with all of them being with the heroine, and none of them is trying to win her for themselves. Of the four guys, only two have a hint of a personality, and the other two are basically just thrown in so this would be a reverse harem and not a love triangle. Either give them more personality or focus on the two that do have developed personalities and that a reader can root for.

Look, I know I’m one of the few who isn’t fond of this series, and it has really high overall ratings on Goodreads and Amazon. So, don’t take my word for it, this is after all just my opinion. But as far as reverse harems go, I’ve seen a lot better than this one.

Book Review: A Trace of Revenge by Lyle Howard

Title: A Trace of Revenge
Author: Lyle Howard
Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural Thriller
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A young boy is left for dead by the assassin who has just bludgeoned his parents.

Matt Walker witnesses the murder of his parents but is able to escape and remains alive. He loses his ability to hear but finds out he has a unique power called Psychometry. This power is an ability to “trace” or know an object’s history, just by touching it.

A few years later, a top-secret government armament is stolen during a deadly hijacking at sea and someone intends to sell the powerful weapon to fulfill their own twisted ambitions.

At the same time, a ruthless mob boss has a gruesome secret that he must protect no matter the cost.

All it takes is something as unassuming as a foul ball hit at a Major League baseball game, to send all of these characters and events spiraling on a collision course aboard the most unique cruise ship ever built and send Matt on the quest to find his parents’ killer.

In A Trace of Revenge, Matt Walker witnessed his parents’ murder and narrowly escaped with his life. Although he can no longer hear due to this terrifying ordeal, he discovers he has an unique power: the ability to trace an object’s history by touching it.

Seeking revenge for what happened to his parents, Matt is dead-set on tracking down the killer, no matter what the cost. Add in the theft of a top-secret government weapon, the most unique cruise ship ever built, and a ruthless mob boss with a harrowing secret, and you have an edge-of-your-seat thriller that is fast-paced, not predictable at all, and solidly escorts the reader from one chapter to the next.

Book Review: Psy’s Last Mission by Jacob Steinberg

Title: Psy’s Last Mission
Author: Jacob Steinberg
Genre: Science-Fiction
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Our planet was hit. Our planet was destroyed. We are now searching for a new planet

Julia is the Naval Officer of Space City, a spacecraft colony inhabited by 5 million people. The spacecraft was on a 2,000-year journey to a viable planet but was hit by an asteroid and destroyed a few decades before reaching its objective.

It is Julia’s task to find a new planet for the people of Space City. She and her team find an unknown planet but before being able to observe it, they are caught in its atmosphere and forced to land.

Once on it, Julia decides to inspect it and goes on a tour of the planet, leaving her team behind.

She finds the source of the planet’s energy which leads her to inspecting the plants’ secrets, which will change everything she thought she knew.

In Psy’s Last Mission, Julia is the naval officer of Space City, a spacecraft colony inhabited by five million. Julia is tasked to find a new plane for the people of Space City, and when on the lookout to investigate a new planet, they’re caught up in the planet’s atmosphere and are forced to land. Once on the planet, Julia decides to inspect it while leaving her team behind, and as she tries to find the source of the planet’s energy, she’s in for more than she bargained for.

I wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t like it as much as I had hoped I would. Some ideas were great, but the execution was lacking. Some chapters were very well-written, others were bland. The editing could also be better overall, and this brought down the reading experience a lot. Some parts of the book were over-the-top and even made me roll my eyes. Overall, though, it had a solid story and some fun surprises.

Book Review: Haunted Blood by Elik Katzav

Title: Haunted Blood
Author: Elik Katzav
Genre: Paranormal Mystery / Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A missing reporter is found drained of blood after being murdered in a ritualistic ceremony.

Now, a young boy has gone missing.

David used to be a police detective before he was shamefully dismissed for claiming that a demon possessed an old priest.Now, he is taking odd jobs as a private eye and investigating the disappearance of a missing boy. As his investigation progresses, he becomes certain that supernatural forces are involved.

The theft of an ancient pagan god statue from a museum, a patient in a psych ward who claims she took part in secret sacrificial killings, and a ruthless cult leader who will stop at nothing, all allow David to understand evil things are coming his way.

David must solve the mystery before the clock strikes zero. If he doesn’t find the boy, he will lose himself as well.

In Haunted Blood, we follow main character David, who used to be a police detective before he was dismissed because he claimed a demon was possessing an old priest. Now, David makes a living as private investigator, and it’s this job that leads him to the search for a missing young boy, which is linked to the murder of a missing reporter – found drained of blood in what looks to be a ritualistic ceremony.

Combined with a woman in the psych ward claiming she participated in sacrificial killings, and an evil cult leader, David realizes that the evil he recognized all those years ago has come back to haunt him. And if he wants to find the missing boy, he’ll have to face his own worst fears.

The world-building was great. I read a lot of paranormal mysteries, but to have one set in Israel is quite unique and gave it an intriguing feel. I liked the characters and plot, even if the plot was not that original, the setting and characters definitely made it entertaining!

Book Review: Malta, The Ultimate Island by Amit Offir

Title: Malta, The Ultimate Island
Author: Amit Offir
Genre: Nonfiction, Travel Guide
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Are you searching for an exotic destination with fascinating history, turquoise colored sea, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife?

After vacationing and exploring many exotic destinations all over the world, the traveler Amit Offir arrives in Malta to enjoy everything the island has to offer, and to ascertain whether the stories about the island’s charm justify the prestigious name many tourists have given it.

If you would like to vacation on an enchanting island with exotic beaches, exceptional diving sites, interesting attractions, unique culture and history, excellent food and for dessert, a vibrant nightlife – Malta is the perfect destination for you.

The fascinating story of the author, and his special approach to life will inspire you, and provide you with a wealth of tools to help you travel often, and enjoy each and every moment on your trip to Malta!

In Malta I found everything I was looking for in the perfect vacation,inexpensively, and within short distance of all sites.’

– Ideal destination all year round
-7,000 years of fascinating history
– Perfect for a beach vacation & diving
– Excellent for family trips extreme adventures

Malta, The Ultimate Island is a travel guide that explores the island of Malta, its unique destinations, and shows you the charm of this exotic beauty. Around Christmas time, it’s perhaps a little strange to think about sunny beaches, but I actually quite enjoyed imagining a holiday on Malta while cozing up near the Christmas tree under a blanket!

The book talks about the various diving sites of the island, the culture and history, and even gives recommendations as to what food you should eat on your trvaels to Malta! There are some beautiful pictures that accompany the stories and suggestions made by the author.

The author also briefly touches upon his own lifestyle and ideals, and combines that with a travel guide to Malta. It’s an interesting mix, and I quite liked it. The historical / cultural parts were my favorites, and I was glad to uncover that Malta has a lot more to offer than breath-taking beaches: it also has a lot of history and culture.

Book Review: Witching on a Star by Erin R. Bedford

Title: Witching on a Star (Academy of Witches #1)
Author: Erin R. Bedford
Genre: Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Witches
Rating: 2,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

All her life Max knew she was destined for more, but when she graduated high school, she never expected to find out she was a witch.
Now Max isn’t headed to the ivy league college of her dreams but to the Witch’s Academy, where the spells are real and the classes just might kill you.
If Max hopes to survive her new destiny she’ll have to put up with mean girl cliques, way too sexy for their own good bad boys, and a popularity contest she didn’t expect to win.
Turns out, wishing comes with consequences and all magic has a price, especially at Witch Academy, but Max may find she’s more prepared than she thought to handle it all.

Last week, I was in the mood for a reverse harem romance. Reverse harem, for those who don’t know, is where one girl has several love interests…and actually ends up with several or all of them! It might be a bit of a strange concept if you’re not used to it, but the last year it’s really gained some fraction in the reading community and more and more people are picking up this genre of books (with more and more writers starting to write in this genre as well). Reverse harem is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, so I’m glad to see its success growing over the past year.

Anyway, on to this book, Witching on a Star, one of the first reverse harem books I’ve picked up in a while. We meet Max, our heroine, who never expected to find out she was a witch after she graduated high school. But lo and behold, not only does she have powers, her family is actually pretty famous in the witching community, and her grandparents are swimming in cash.

Witch Academy could be fun and exciting, but on the first day, Max already makes enemies out of the current queen bee of the school, and bumps into several guys who each have their unique, interesting personality traits. There’s the typical division: smart but somewhat shy, sexy bad guy, and then two more who don’t make that much of an appearance in this book and weren’t quite that memorable to me. In fact, personality-wise, basically the only one I could tell apart from the others was sexy bad guy. The others are so bland and indescriptive that they might as well be the same person.

So far, the book seems to have everything you’d expect in a reverse harem, right?

Well, it does, but it’s all kind of cringy. The romance is cringy. Everyone Max meets instantly falls in love with her, even willing to put morals and jealousy aside to be with her; they don’t mind if she’s dating multiple guys because she’s Max, the most special snowflake to ever walk this earth.

Max’s special-snowflake behaviour is so annoying. She goes from having no powers to being overpowered in a matter of pages, without actually needing any training. She scarcely spends any time in classes, more often than not hanging out with boys instead.

The villain is a mean girl. Yes, in a world of magic where you could conjure up about any type of villain, the villain Max has to stare down is Sabrina, typical mean girl who used to be queen bee until Max came along, who promptly stole Sabrina’s boyfriend (ex-boyfriend since he dumped Sabrina previously, apparently for cheating on him with his brother… which is exactly what Max ends up doing from the start, out in the open, and he makes no comment about it whatsoever…double standards much?).

The best friend is just filler, and only shows up when Max needs her to, conveniently disappearing at any other moment. The world-building is OK but I’m curious to find out more about this wizarding world and its many families. So far, the school and world feel really, really smal. I would also like to find at least one guy in this series who is NOT instantly falling for Max.

I also picked up book two just because I wanted to see if it would get any better, as despite the mean-girl clichés and Max being a Mary Sue, I am intrigued by the guys and if they will keep swooning over Max or if more drama will come their way. Stay tuned for my review of book two soon.

Book Promo: AntiAmerica by T.K. Falco

About the Book

AntiAmerica stands at the center of the largest US anarchist uprising in 100 years.

When hacktivist group AntiAmerica hacks the nation’s largest banks, the financial industry is left teetering on the brink of collapse. Hacker and teen runaway Alanna Blake is forcefully recruited by the government to track down the only link to AntiAmerica, her missing ex-boyfriend Javier. She relies on every bit of her social engineering cunning to navigate a conspiracy of lies and deceit, which imperils both the lives of everyone closest to her and the secrets to a past she longs to remain locked away forever.

Author Bio

T.K. Falco is the author of AntiAmerica. A Vermont native and longtime Texas resident, T.K.’s present address varies depending on the month.

T.K. earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Minor in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California. A former corporate marketing professional, T.K.’s current efforts are devoted to writing and financial trading. Interests include anime, board games, card games, comic books, Dallas Mavericks, meditation, MMORPGs, movies, tennis, travel and ultimate frisbee.

A digital nomad and foodaholic at heart, T.K. comments about related topics, as well as life as an indie author. For more about T.K.’s musings and upcoming projects, you can visit https://www.tkfalco.com.

Links

Amazon eBook
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Author Website

Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2019

I participated in the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge for the last few years now, with varying degrees of success. Last year, I only managed to read a small number of books for this challenge.

But let’s not dwell on the past. I’m going for Silver level again this year, which means I have to read 25 books.

You can find out more about the challenge, or sign up to participate on Reading Between The Pages

I will keep track of my progress here, and on my main reading challenges page.