Book Review: To Know Torah Vol. 1 The Book of Genesis by Ephraim Chamiel

Title: To Know Torah Vol. 1 – The Book of Genesis
Author: Dr. Ephraim Chamiel
Genre: Spirituality, Judaism, Biblical History
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Dig deep into the plain meaning of the Bible’s stories and commandments

Would you like to know what the Old Testament (Pentateuch) is all about from a Jewish point of view? This book reveals the morals, ethics, and ideas behind the stories and commandments of one of the oldest books in the history of mankind – a book that serves as the foundation of Jewish and Christian religion. Given the difficult Hebrew in which the Old Testament was written and how challenging it is to translate and to explain, the author wanted to offer to the reader the simple meaning of the text (p’shat) in accessible and friendly language.

The Book of Genesis is opened before you – from a Jewish perspective

The series includes 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Book 1, Genesis tells the stories of the Creation, the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, the three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and their families, and their journey from Canaan to Egypt.


I have to say that I never expected I would read a book like To Know Torah – I’m not Jewish, I don’t really know anyone who is Jewish personally, and while religion has always interested me up to some point, I didn’t think I would one day explore the Book of Genesis, and from a Jewish perspective at that.

In this book, Dr. Ephraim Chamiel exlains how to approach the Torah from this perspective, it explains the morals and ethics behind the stories in Genesis, and how to interpret the ancient Hebrew language in which it was originally written.

It’s an intriguing read, especially for people interested in religion or broadening their own world view. It’s a book you need to take your time for, and rather than rushing through the pages to get through the end as soon as possible, readers should take the time to let it all sink in.

Book Review Forget Me and Giveaway

Title: Forget Me
Author: Chelsea Vanderbeek
Genre: YA Christian Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Sabine is a budding poet who was practically born with a pencil in her hand. Though her intelligence and maturity far surpasses that of those around her, she lacks the confidence and social graces to come out of her shell.

She’s been forced on numerous occasions in the past to slip inside the glass double doors of Hilltop Baptist Church. The youth group was her mom’s idea, really. A shot-in-the-dark way for Sabine to try and make some wholesome friends in a wholesome place. Not that it ever worked out—at least she was usually able to make it out with minimal negative attention as her plain-old invisible self.

This time was different. She always hoped it would be different, but not like this. When Sabine decides she’s had enough of this life, she ends it and becomes more visible than she’s ever been before. Is it possible she wasn’t as forgettable as she once thought? The only way to find out is to watch the aftermath unfold, and no matter the outcome, she can’t do a thing about it. No one can…

…or can they?

Forget Me is an inspiring, beautiful story about Sabine, a budding poet who is intelligent and mature for her age… But is also painfully shy, and lacks the confidence to make friends and open up to others, and come out of her shell. Her mother pressures her to go the Hilltop Baptist Church, to a youth group, in the hope of making friends there. It has never really worked out, and Sabine struggles to find a home in this world. But when she decides she’s had enough and takes some drastic steps, it might turn out she’s not as forgettable as she always thought she was.

Reminiscent of 13 Reasons Why, this is a raw, emotional, heartbreaking tale of a teen struggling with low self-esteem and depression. It’s a tough book to read and an even tougher one to read, as the subject matter is quite sensitive and bleak, but the author does a phenomenal job crafting believable teenage characters, and making Sabine’s struggles feel real and honest.

Not a feel-good kind of book, but one that I can genuinely recommend to teens, even the ones struggling with depression or the same things the protagonist is struggling with. The writing is sincere and genuine, and you can feel the author’s genuine intentions to relay a message to the readers. There’s a lot of good intent, passion, and kindness in the writing of this book, despite the bleak narrative.

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Mini-Reviews: Black Swan Rising, Rooms, Dance with the Dead


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Black Swan Rising

Tite: Black Swan Rising

Author: Lee Carroll

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . .

That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force?

On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.

Review: The book started out strong and atmospheric, but then lost some of its charm along the way, with the introduction of the elementals, and then some parts that didn’t make much sense. I did like the main character, Garet James, and the storytelling was all right for the most part. I loved the first half of the book, but only somewhat enjoyed the second part.


Title: Rooms

Author: James L. Rubart

Genre: Christian Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

Review: When I started reading this book, I didn’t realize it was Christian fiction, which isn’t my usual genre, but I did enjoy part of it nevertheless. I thought this would be more of a ghost story, so I went in expecting that (the hallways and doors appearing and disappearing had me thrown off) but it wasn’t that at all. Anyway, most people who read it, loved it, but for me it was over the top, and the characters didn’t act very realistic either.

Dance with the Dead

Title: Dance with the Dead

Author: James Nally

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Aspiring actress Elizabeth Smart lands her centre stage role: her mutilated body is found dumped in North London’s red light district. Clasped in her hand is a piece of human hair belonging to an unidentified body of a woman murdered two weeks ago.
Aspiring actress Elizabeth Smart lands her centre stage role: her mutilated body is found dumped in North London’s red light district. Clasped in her hand is a piece of human hair belonging to an unidentified body of a woman murdered two weeks ago.
PC Donal lands himself a place on the murder squad just as his unconventional brother, journalist Finton, unearths the secret double life of Elizabeth.
The bodies mount, each clinging to the strands of hair belonging to the previous victim. The police are convinced it’s the act of a serial killer. But how does Donal convince them it’s not?
The only people he can trust are the victims he dances with in his dreams.

Review: I have to admit I picked up this book because the cover intrigued me – the synopsis didn’t convince me that much. But soon enough, I started getting sucked into the sotry and loved every minute of it. PC Donal is an amazing protagonist, with some hidden secrets, the case kept me on the edge of my seat, and the writing was excellent.

Book Review Peacemaking by Lance LoRusso

Final COver 2Title: Peacemaking

Author: Lance LoRusso

Genre: Christian fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

“There are few things more dangerous for a cop than searching a building at night.” He was making his way forward with Pete at his back when he felt it. It was hard to describe, but it stopped him in his tracks, and his fingers and toes went cold.

Scotty Painter is the most respected member of his police department, having worked his way up from a street cop to deputy chief. After losing his wife, Christine, to cancer and giving his daughter away at her wedding, he now lives alone. His life as a cop is not easy, however, as he is haunted by the misery he has seen and the things he had to do to survive. One day, he finds himself sharing his deepest and most troubling thoughts with the only one who can truly understand his struggles and answer his questions. In a world far apart from his days filled with life and death decisions, Scotty comes face to face with his fears, his faith, and his destiny.

In Peacemaking, police officer Scotty has gone through some challenging times. His wife died of cancer, his daughter moved out, he’s a cop who regularly sees the darkest sides of humanity, and he’s haunted by the things he had to do to survive. Now, in his darkest hour, he shares his most troubling thoughts, and comes face to face with his fears.

The book is quite short, and a fast read. It doesn’t come across as preachy, but instead gives an honest insight in the life and troubles of a man, and investigates his relationship with God. Rather than based on plot, this book is based mostly on characterization. It was interesting to follow Scotty’s struggles, to be able to relate to him, and to discover how he found himself and his own destiny.

Book Review: Sunblind by Michael McBride

22699416Title: Sunblind

Author: Michael McBride

Genre: Horror, Supernatural Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When U.S. Border Patrol Agent Christian Rivera discovers the body of an undocumented alien in the middle of the vast Sonoran Desert with three enigmatic words carved into her flesh, presumably by her own hand, it triggers a frantic search for the remainder of her party, a group of twenty-five men and women who have inexplicably vanished into the desert.
Aided by two of the agency’s best trackers, Rivera follows the woman’s trail into the brutal heart of one of the hottest and most unforgiving landscapes on the planet, where nothing can survive for long. As more bodies turn up, Rivera and the others begin to realize they may be up against an enemy far deadlier than the desert, an unseen adversary that will stop at nothing to take from them what it needs to survive. A mythical evil that may not be myth at all, but horrifically real, could very well be stalking them, and their only hope of surviving the same fate that befell the missing party lies in deciphering the clues to their disappearance before it’s too late. If it isn’t already…
From Michael McBride, bestselling author of Burial Ground and Snowblind, comes Sunblind, a thrilling new novel of terror and action that will take you on an unforgettable journey from the desperate streets of Mexico, through the deadliest corridor in the world, to a place where mankind was never meant to tread.

Sunblind is an intense book, with the suspense railing high right from the start. U.S. Border Patrol Agent Christian Rivera runs into the body of an illegal immigrant, with a sinister message carved into her chest. She’s on the verge of death, but the message, and the pictures on her camera, lead Rivera to suspect the rest of her party, a group of twenty-five men and women, may still be alive, and vanished somewhere in the desert. He follows the woman’s trail into the heart of the desert, aided by two of the best trackers. As more bodies turn up, Rivera starts to suspect the unforgiving desert may not be the only thing he’s up against.

At the same time, we take a trip back in time, and followw Mayra, the immigrant woman, as she joins a group of people heading into the desert, and the horrors she goes through while being there. At some point, the author describes the thirst and hunger of the characters so well that I almost felt physically ill. Michael McBride has the uncanny ability to make readers care almost too much about his characters – I know it’s horror, but still I cared for Mayra so much that I didn’t want her to die, or even to get hurt. Although the other characters sometimes remain unnamed, instead being referred to by their characteristics, I still cared for them. The back story of Mayra and her party members was the most interesting of both storylines, but toward the end, they both collide nicely in a fascinating climax that I won’t forget any time soon.

Rather than horror – although the book has its horrific moments – it’s more like the kind of read that just leaves you like a total wreck. Mayra’s life has been horrible from the start, with what happened to her sister and than to her, her ordeals in the desert, and you just want her pain to end, want her to get one lucky break. You cannot feel anything but sympathy for a character who goes to impossible lengths to survive, who beats all odds and still continues on, and that’s what Mayra does, and what makes her so sympathetic and so tragic at the same time.

The book has it all: from supernatural horror to the realistic horror (which in my opinion, is even scarier) like the trip through the desert – God, I’m never looking at a desert the same way again – amazing characters and extraordinary writing. One of the best horror novels I’ve ever read.

Book Review: Bella Maura by Dawn Dyson

9003854Title: Bella Maura (Beautiful Justice #1)
Author: Dawn Dyson
Genre: Spiritual, Christian Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Creation House
Rating: 4,5 stars
Review copy provided by the author.
Goodreads | Author’s Website

How far would you go to protect the ones you love?
When novelist Sienna Emory decides to come to the aid of an old college friend, she finds more than she bargained for. Not only does her friend Cheney have a full-blown drug addiction, she also has an endearing ex-husband who is still trying to help her. An unlikely match, Sienna and Jonathan soon become close. Jonathan’s five-year-old daughter seems to be the answer to Sienna’s prayers. Never able to have children of her own, Sienna is overjoyed at the prospect of finding a mate in Jonathan and a daughter in little Bella. But Cheney is not a typical friend and Bella is not a typical little girl.
Join Sienna and Jonathan on the discovery of Bella Maura’s sprirtual gift. It will lead them, and you, from America to Jonathan’s hometown in Ireland, where the gift is perceived as a curse that has tormented the Driscoll clan for centuries. Will Sienna and Jonathan help Bella use it for the good?

I have to admit that I’ve hardly read any Christian Fiction, and that I usually shy away from the genre. Bella Maura is the exception to the rule, the novel I simply couldn’t resist even if it wasn’t in a genre I usually read or am very fond of. I’m glad I made the exception, I’m glad I gave Bella Maura a chance, because it certainly does not dissapoint.

Sienna is a renowed novelist, and ‘foster parent’ for ‘her girls’, homeless or abused young women she takes into her home and makes a part of her family. Since she’s a very generous, compassionate and loving person, she naturally comes to the aid of her old college friend, Cheney, when the latter calls and asks for her help. But Sienna has no idea of the mess she’s gotten into. Cheney has no intention of really recovering whatsoever, and like her drug addiction and alcoholism isn’t bad enough, Sienna also discovers that she has a daughter she’s been avoiding for years. When Sienna gets to know Cheney’s neighbour and friend, Jonathan, it doesn’t take her long to figure out that Jonathan is the father of the daughter Cheney abandoned: Bella Maura.

Unable to have children herself, Sienna immediately feels a strong connection to the young girl. And when Sienna and Jonathan’s relationship blossoms, she ‘adopts’ Bella Maura as her own daughter. But unfortunately, there are still some troubles ahead. Cheney is struggling her addiction in a rehabilitation centre, someone is leaving weird notes for Sienna, and Bella has a special talent to connect with God that could end in disaster.

Dawn Dyson has an amazing writing voice. She writes descriptions with such delicate care, each word of the sentence holding a special meaning, and each sentence as mesmerizing as the one before. She is truly a master of words, and the way she crafts her words, sentences and paragraphs into this great, meaningful and amazing story, is nothing short but a miracle. Her writing style totally charmed me, overwhelmed me even, and left me very impressed. She puts grave thoughts, and life-altering questions in her novel with such ease that I, as a reader, was hardly surprised by all the questions this book kept asking me.

Bella Maura asks questions about the meaning of life, about the existence of evil, about the goodness of another person’s heart, about spirituality, God, and more things that we hardly stand still to think about, but are important parts of our day-to-day life. We deal with good and evil on a daily basis, yet we never stop to think about the very nature of good and evil. And the thing with Bella Maura is that, where in other novels I might be repulsed by such questions, and disregard the novel as being either too spiritual or too difficult and nerve-wrecking to continue, now I didn’t. The beautiful narrator’s voice, the distinctive and recognisable characters, the undeniable sense of love that this novel radiates, is more than enough to keep on reading, to ask yourself the questions this book challenges you to ask, and to do all of that without even a hint of annoyance. Bella Maura doesn’t just force its readers to continue reading, to turn page after page after page eagerly anticipating what’s coming next – it also challenges its readers, dares them to think out of the box, to think about their own part in life, their own connection to God, to define what is good and what is evil. That’s pretty much what all great books do, and Bella Maura truly is a great book.

The main characters, Sienna and Jonathan, share this amazing love connection that makes me believe there’s still hope for all of us. Their love is strong, both on an emotional and day-to-day level and on a higher, spiritual level. From the first moment they meet, they are drawn to each other with a force that cannot be explained any other way then that they’re soulmates. Both are charming, loving, caring, compassionate and giving so much for others that they often forget all about themselves. They are both very inspiring, and although their romance might start off a bit like a whirlwind, and I’ve always had some trouble grasping the whole ‘falling in love with each other in a day or two’ issue, but nevertheless, Dawn Dyson succeeds in making their relationship convincing, heartfelt and adorable.

I also really loved the other characters: Bella Maura, Jonathan’s little girl with a special talent and a deep connection with God and the world around her, the girls Sienna took into her home and looked after, and even Cheney, Sienna’s old college-friend who is now a drug-addict and alcoholist. The personalities of all characters were very well described throughout the novel, and I had the feeling I got to know all of them by the end of it. My heart went out to Sienna, and to ‘her girls’ for overcoming abuse, and for still being able to live, laugh, care and love. They were really a family, despite all their different backgrounds, thoughts and opinions, and it was really heartwarming to see their interactions.

From the suburbs of America to the shores of Ireland, this novel offers a plotline that is as divers and intense as its characters, a fast-paced adventure and a  journey of self-discovery, and acceptance that there is something greater than us all.

As I already said, Dawn Dyson is not afraid to touch some sensitive topics, and to ask her readers some valuable questions, but she does so with the support of an amazing cast of characters, and a strong and suspenseful plot. Bella Maura will both amaze and surprise you.