This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass by David Yuen

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Continuing to share his altogether discerning, literary journey through life, author David Yuen supplies another artistic tour de force with his work in This Too Shall Pass. A thought-filled work that artfully presents an insightful collection of his poetry, prose, and essays, while inviting the mind, heart, and soul of readers to experience life from his decidedly intelligent and Christian perspective. Purchase Here.

Immediately, author Yuen engages the mindset with his stirring discourse, This Too Shall Pass, an essay that is also the title of the book. This well-known adage presents a penetrating and thoughtful look at the true experience of life’s events, which does well to set the poignant tone for the remainder of the book. Moreover, positing the general theme throughout the book that while change is inevitable whether good or bad there is always a reason for it and nothing that happens in life occurs and remains in a stage of permanent stasis but eventually will pass, as life is always a series of emotion rending fluxes. This essay is just the beginning of many well-written excerpts which show the impermanence of life’s events, while many of author Yuen’s poetic works serve to inspire, with elegant locutions embodying stalwart personal strength, morality, faith, and endurance.

Meanwhile, throughout the remainder of the book, there is a diversity of themes covered including multiple essays containing revelations on the Invasion of Ukraine, War in Ukraine, and the atrocities thereof. As well, author David Yuen also presents with eloquent articulation his personal experiences with COVID. Also, he presents many meditative works which flow like stream-of-consciousness narratives where he covers topics including; Fasting, Atrocity and Death, and Impermanence.

Additionally, the poetic works included are stellar intimations of reflection, as they are thoughtful, provoking, insightful, and fulfilling. While I enjoyed all his poetic entries a few remained with me, well after reading them; I Am Man See Me Stand; which engages the prowess of inner strength, All That Remain; which focuses on surviving adversity through maintaining a strong character, So Much So Little; demonstrates the character strengths and weaknesses of appreciation and disregard, My Fragile Foolish Self; embodies a stark look at negative perspectives. Albeit most of the included works were more of a serious nature, there is also included humor with A Poet Argues with His Coffee over Coffee, (this is my personal favorite).

Altogether, I enjoyed David Yuen’s expressive works in his book, This Too Shall Pass, the whole of his works this collection promotes faith in God’s hand in our lives, and although life can be imperfect, it is actually perfectly imperfect because God is always there teaching us through the perceived imperfections. This is a work of intellectual depth, both well-written and observant, which may bring about a change in perspective for readers toward life and all that it entails. As a whole, this luminous literary culmination penetrates the reading experience with lucidity and aplomb and I do highly recommend it.

All Hope of Becoming Human

All Hope of Becoming Human by Lonnie Busch

Book Reviewed by Rahul Gaur

When Ben Jonson first came up with the saying “Curiosity killed the cat,” he probably didn’t imagine that it would continue to be used to describe humans for a long time. We’ve seen this idea in many movies, books, and this story is no different. But what makes it interesting is how he presents this theme in a captivating way.  Purchase Here.

The opening chapter sets a chilling tone as Officer Reggie’s peaceful surroundings clash with the horrifying reality he uncovers. The vivid descriptions and palpable tension create a sense of unease that permeates the entire story. I must say that the opening chapter serves as a fantastic hook for the reader, just like an exciting thriller movie.

As the plot progresses, we are introduced to a diverse cast of characters, each with their motivations and struggles. From Professor Braden’s archaeological expedition to Karen and Lizzy’s fight for survival, the chapters seamlessly intertwine, propelling the narrative forward while leaving breadcrumbs of intrigue along the way. The characters are well-developed. I felt like I got to know them and understand their motivations. The characters’ individual experiences, struggles, and encounters with the extraordinary events happening around them add depth and complexity to the narrative. Each character brings their perspectives, motivations, and reactions, shaping the overall dynamics of the story.

One thing that deserves attention is the pacing of the story. In some places, it felt like the story was moving too quickly, and I didn’t have enough time to get to know the characters or understand what was happening. Some part of the story felt like it was dragging on, and I was eager to get to the next part. However, the plot effectively grabs hold of the reader, generating a sense of intrigue and leaving them excited to uncover the unfolding narrative.

The author skillfully blends elements of horror, suspense, and the supernatural, crafting a gripping tale that defies traditional genre boundaries. The characters and their world are in a state of constant dissonance, which mirrors the unease that permeates the story. It is a testament to the author’s storytelling prowess that even in the most dreamlike moments, a sense of realism summons the reader into the story.

This story stands out by compelling readers to contemplate the duality of humanity and the decisions we make when confronted with extraordinary situations. Given that people continue to live as they do now, the events depicted in this book may come true one day. Some may call my perspective pessimistic, but I see pervasive chaos all around, which makes me wonder when we will develop the ability to coexist harmoniously with nature. What price must we pay to rediscover our humanity? Is there any hope for our collective return to a more humane state, or have we lost that opportunity entirely? The answer lies in the latter portion of the idiom, “but satisfaction brought it back.”

View the Trailer for All Hope of Becoming Human

All Hope of Becoming Human_26 second trailer from Lonnie Busch on Vimeo.

The Chancer

The Chancer by Fiona Graham

Book Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Fiona Graham’s debut novel, The Chancer, is a seemingly fun and easy read. However, there is a lot simmering under the surface. The story explores the fragile relationship between living an authentic life and fully abandoning oneself to a dream.  Purchase Here.

Somewhere on a crisp green field in Ireland, Donnie McNamara daydreams about joining the starry Hollywood sky. Despite having few opportunities to explore and hone his acting skills, he is determined to make it. However, his aspirations of becoming a famous actor are ridiculed by family and friends.

Just as Donnie’s hope starts dwindling, an unexpected gift from a dear friend and mentor lights the way. Tired of being a disappointment to his parents, who would have liked their son to follow his farming heritage, Donnie books a ticket to Los Angeles. His chosen path is windy and filled with countless obstacles, many of which are laid by Donnie himself, perhaps as an unconscious act of self-sabotage; or just simple recklessness.

Once in Los Angeles, Donnie’s path becomes intertwined with Abe Nelson, a fallen Hollywood star who gracelessly crashed from stardom. While an unlikely duo, the two seem to complete each other and become better versions of themselves.

Donnie’s quirkiness leaves many perplexed, but it awakens a lost sense of authenticity in a select few. His erratic behavior and uninvited honesty lead to rejection both in his professional and personal life. At the same time, Donnie lives a duplicitous existence that looms over his daydream and fragile happiness.

Fiona Graham constructs an intriguing plot that draws the reader into Donnie’s frantic fight to reach what might just as well be a mirage. On a backdrop of humor, she paints a neon bright picture of the ugly side of beautiful. While fame and popularity have a magnetic allure, these could be inherently dangerous. Falling from a great height can shatter one’s will to live. So, is it even worth trying to climb to the top?

I would encourage anyone to take a chance on Fiona Graham’s debut novel, The Chancer, to find out Donnie’s answer. This fictional story will likely ring true to many, as readers may easily spot a glimpse of themselves in the recklessly foolish dreamer.


The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Poetic Version by Robert W. Watson

Book Reviewed by Michaela Gordoni

The Epic of Gilgamesh is popularly considered to be the oldest piece of written literature ever discovered. Robert W. Watson’s The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Poetic Version sets out to recount the story of the great King Gilgamesh in poetic verse across 120 pages. The timeless tale starts when a boy sees Enkidu, a strange beast, in the woods. He alerts the King, who sends a woman to bring out the beast-man’s humanity with a kiss. Upon turning into a much more human-like version of himself, he becomes enraged when he hears about the King’s unjust marriage plans. He starts a riot, and the King is the object of his fury. But somehow, the two stop their fighting and realize that they are one and the same, and a fierce and deep friendship ensues between the two. Together, Enkidu and King Gilgamesh embark on a monster-hunting quest, which eventually turns into a venture seeking eternal life.  Purchase Here.

Watson’s poetic retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh serves as an excellent introduction to this ancient epic. Though Robert W. Watson has taken a good dose of poetic liberty, it does not bear great significance in a recounting of this sort. The format is easy enough to understand and, for the most part, sounds pleasant when read aloud. Though there are a few instances where the key rhyming words are awkwardly placed, when reading aloud, the orator has to be aware of these and read carefully in order for the text to sound right and flow smoothly. Yet shaping the ancient story into a rhyme is a big task, and Robert W. Watson has still done very well, considering.

Robert W. Watson has also thoughtfully included pictures to go with sections of the epic. At first, the images seem slightly rudimentary and lack a bit of detail, but on further inspection, they seem to be in step with the kind of art that is often found in versions of the Bible. It seems like it is likely intentional, meant to be a subtle correlation to the time of the Old Testament. It suggests that the illustrations are intentionally designed to evoke a sense of time immemorial and align with the context of the ancient tale.

Overall, Robert W. Watson’s The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Poetic Version is a great way for readers of any age to learn about this ancient story of quests and friendship. Despite the occasional poetic liberties and minor issues with rhyming, Watson’s retelling captures the spirit of Gilgamesh’s epic journey. With its accessible format and accompanying illustrations, the book serves as a compelling entry point into the world of ancient literature, allowing readers to appreciate the enduring themes and engaging narrative of the Epic of Gilgamesh.


The Butterfly Cage

The Butterfly Cage by Rachel Zemach

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

The Butterfly Cage” is a brilliant and thoughtful memoir written by Rachel Zemach, a deaf educator, writer, and activist. Here, Author Zemach recounts her remarkable navigation through the intricacies of teaching while Deaf in a California public school. It is a crucial and sometimes disquieting panorama of the patchiness of deaf education in public schools offering necessary advice for educators and families alike.  Purchase Here.

She fuses these experiences with her own heartfelt story of sudden deafness at the age of ten, and her ensuing and rather challenging journey toward a deaf identity and taking up a teaching role. With a striking foreword, the text does not tally in its progress but carefully details what it is like as a deaf teacher to strive for her pupils in a system that does not understand their needs and identities and which may end up damaging their potential and psychological well-being.

Her inspiring role in a deaf public school offers a role model that parents wish for their children in a school setting but whom deaf students rarely get in their classrooms. Zemach further details her struggles with the administration, staff, and aides who try to cripple teachers’ efforts at every turn, a scene all too frequent in mainstream schools.

The Butterfly Cage” is one of those indelible memoirs that you finish reading and feel a little like you have lost an old friend. Readers will learn from the true stories of individual students told in an artful and affecting manner, what the deepest struggles of deaf and hard-of-hearing students are, and why the majority of these students in the country may end up losing their birthright due to a broken system that urgently needs restructuring. Zemach is unflinchingly honest and accomplishes much in this appealing and intelligent tapestry by rallying the society behind her to help these vulnerable group attain their budding capabilities.

That’s what places the book squarely among the best memoirs written out there. Her writing passion has adroitly amplified a thousandfold in the quiet world of the deaf. Her generosity of spirit is bound to encompass every reader who puts their hands on this hard-to-put-down memoir.

Indeed, “The Butterfly Cage” by Rachel Zemach makes a major contribution to our understanding of deafness, the challenges deaf students meet, and a call to legislators and educators alike in creating a conducive environment for them to learn in public schools. It is an oeuvre from a quintessential voice in America.


A Friend of King Neptune

A Friend of King Neptune by Wm. Stage

Book Reviewed by Rahul Gaur

A Friend of King Neptune by Wm. Stage” is a story that revolves around the experiences of Francis and Dingus’s journey and their encounters with different people. Despite the unique plot, the story captures various aspects of the duo’s work life, friendship, and personal lives, making the characters relatable and memorable. Along the way, Dingus encounters several eccentric characters, including a suicidal Indian, a wicked sheriff’s deputy, and a crew of offbeat characters who inhabit an old general store. The interactions between the characters add depth to the stories, and the well-developed plot and well-paced story keep the readers engaged. The discovery of the treasure incited a series of comical deliberations among the group, including proposals to sell it for monetary gain, donate it for charitable purposes, and even consider its destruction, all of which I found amusing.  Purchase Here.

Although the book becomes mundane somewhere in the middle, Stage’s ability to infuse humor into even the most ordinary moments is truly remarkable. One of the strengths of the book is its ability to convey the strong bond between Francis and Dingus. Their friendship is the backbone of the stories, and the banter and camaraderie between them add humor and warmth to the tales. The story highlights the value of long-lasting friendships and the unique perspective that comes with experience. It implies that the author of the book has a deep understanding of the complexities of human relationships and the importance of maintaining strong connections over time.

Wm. Stage’s writing is witty, with clever dialogue and quirky characters that keep the reader engaged from start to finish. The author’s writing style is descriptive and engaging. The dialogue between the characters is so well-crafted that it immerses the reader in the scene, providing a vivid and realistic portrayal of the characters’ interactions. If you’re looking for a lighthearted and humorous adventure, look no further than this gem of a book.


We Are All Made of Scars

We Are All Made of Scars by Christopher Morris

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

Christopher Morris’s new memoir “We Are All Made of Scars” rivets with arresting echoes of his life’s moving and highly volatile episodes while at a tender age in the hands of a dipsomaniac mother.  Purchase Here.

This book offers a gripping prologue that aptly introduces the reader to a roller coaster of childhood memories and events that foretell a teenager’s story in dire need of survival. Chris’ life seemed like a pushover and his dreams were an afterthought after finding himself surrounded by nurses and doctors who couldn’t stop taking tests on him to bail him out of dejection that set him up as a pledged suicidal kid.  A few days earlier, the frustrating lifestyle exhibited by his mother was getting the best of him as efforts to acquire her attention became futile. She was always sunk on her rocking chair while ceaselessly imbibing and smoking her lungs out without a care in the world.

Her long calls meant that Chris would never get a chance to talk to his girlfriend and this was quickly breaking the swelling banks of his emotions. It is a sad affair to see him give a five-minute ultimatum to his mother if she didn’t drop her long call to which he would openly harm himself if ignored further.  An unforeseen twist into Chris’s daily routine would however beautifully have him gasp in amazement as his oblivious mother showed up to pick him up from school wearing a rather different outfit- a super concerned mum, only to prove otherwise when the mother mentioned the word, doctor.

This magnificent memoir carries a unique tone and style which ably captures a reader’s emotions and feelings from the beginning to the end. The author’s experience is one to sympathize with as he narrates the devastating nature of being a supposed psychic patient due to a foolish decision that left him broken and unstable. Readers may however find themselves shedding a tear due to the author’s family’s horrific lifestyle that brims with gloom and despondency but will quickly jump back to their realities and deep reflection on experienced situations that may have occurred through unsound planning, emotional breakdown, and desire to prove a point.

In conclusion, Christopher Morris’s new memoir “We Are All Made of Scars” is a perfect family read whose voice and moral lessons will echo for years to come. Readers are bound to incalculably draw strength and hope from this new magnum opus, which undoubtedly stands out as one of the most real and inspirational stories ever written.


Far Out

Far Out by Khaled Talib

Book Reviewed by Timea Barabas

If you are looking for an unconventional story, look no further than Khaled Talib’s Far Out. The fun story is a unique mix of witty humor, a glamorous lifestyle, thrilling action, and psychological inserts that lead to an unexpected read.  Purchase Here.

Some readers may already be familiar with the main protagonists, Goldie Saint Helen and Blake Deco from Gun Kiss. However, those unfamiliar with Khaled Talib’s previous book can still enjoy this story as an independent read. The considerate author includes details about any references to the previous novel, so you will still benefit from the wider context.

Far Out opens with a scenic drive along Pacific Coast Highway that comes to an abrupt end as movie star Goldie Saint Helen is severely injured in a car crash. Fortunately, she is pulled out of the burning wreckage by a group of teenagers who attend to her until the ambulance arrives.

As Goldie recovers at the hospital, it quickly becomes apparent that she suffers from Dissociative Amnesia. The condition not only threatens her career but also her independence and freedom. Goldie awakens as Gypsy Star, a funky detective from the 60s ripped from the movie script of the actress’ upcoming project.

Gypsy Star is immersed in a high-profile case where she is tasked to track down a missing girl who ran away from home. Her chase leads her to the midst of a secret CIA project that tests experimental drugs on hippies.

Following the doctor’s recommendations, Goldie’s husband, Blake Deco, plays along as Gypsy Star’s assistant. This allows him to stay with his wife and shelter her from harm while prompting her recovery. From details like current songs playing on the radio to modern cell phones, her reaction to anachronisms is erratic and difficult to guess.

The author achieves a captivating overlay of Goldie’s projection of reality. The movie screen plot carves a way into the real world, as Gypsy’s missing girl materializes and a malicious plot unfolds around the detective.

Far Out flows as an action-packed Hollywood movie sprinkled with unexpected twists and fun pitstops along the way. An adult audience will appreciate the adventurous read and the wider discussion it prompts on the dangers of conservatorship.



Deadly Droppings/Humble Pie by William LeRoy

Deadly Droppings

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dispensing to mystery-thirsty minds, a winning combination of adventure, mystery, Pigeon racing, and private investigation,  is William Leroy’s Deadly Droppings, a work that faithfully adds to his series of Maximo Morgan Mystery books. Also, delightfully, there is an included, unique perk to this book, as the book offers a two-for-one read, while the other side of the book features another Maximo Morgan mystery, titled Humble PiePurchase Here.

Albeit, this narrative,  presents a deeply entangled story that piques the interest on many levels, things start out simply. First, we meet Maximo Morgan, a robust character, both physically and mentally. He’s in his office so to speak which is his desk in a Mr. Quickies copy shop where he works as a notary public servicing Quickie shop customers in exchange for desk space which is where he also provides another service, private investigations, selling his investigative talents to the interested public at large.

Moreover, Maximo is not alone.   He has company, Bill Crowe, a former co-worker from the United States postal service where the two worked together at one time. As they talk and trade stories, the tone of their conversation changes as Bill expresses that he has a problem.  His pride and joy, Homer Crowe is missing and he needs Maximo Morgan to be on the case, especially because his price is right.

Meanwhile, Maximo along with his teenage sidekick, (a young admirer who wants to be a private investigator), begins to sort things out and works on the investigation. However, as the investigation proceeds, Maximo, realizes something is not quite right as clues begin to point towards quite a different situation. An earnest Maximo believed he was looking for a friend’s missing teenage son but as he sorts through evidence he soon comes to realize that things are not as they seem. Max is really looking for something of a different nature and not a possible teenage runaway. As time ticks and a competitor rears his “ugly” head, Maximo has to make moves to get to the heart of the mystery of the disappearing Homer.

Altogether, I was delighted in reading, Deadly Droppings.  This colorful, intelligent, and twisted detective fiction was not only a creative romp through the “hard-boiled detective” genre but it was also creatively twisted and even edifying in its content. In particular, the aspect concerning the multi-faceted, world of pigeon racing, especially the history and use of pigeons in general, I found not only intensely engaging but also refreshing as this is a topic not often visited in mystery books. I enjoyed the journey into the world of private detectives and learning their standards of investigation, the sorting of evidence, the process of eliminating suspects, the vibrant characterizations, detective vernacular as well the quick dips, into other well-known, hard-boiled detective stories. This is definitely a great addition to any mystery lovers’ library especially those into uniquely formatted, collectible books and I definitely do recommend it.  As a matter of fact, this would make a great TV/cable mystery series.


Humble Pie

Reviewed by Rahul Gaur

Humble Pie by William Leroy is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that explores the complexities of family dynamics, mental illness, and the pursuit of success. Divided into twenty-one chapters, the book takes readers on a journey through the lives of Maximo Morgan, Mimi Everheart, Mamie Motley, and her son Algernon.  Purchase Here.

LeRoy’s writing style is engaging and accessible, with vivid descriptions of food that are sure to make readers’ mouths water. From the opening chapter, it’s clear that he has a talent for creating realistic and relatable characters, as well as a knack for pacing and plot development. The plot is well-crafted, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged throughout. LeRoy deftly weaves together themes of family, love, loss, and redemption in a way that feels both authentic and uplifting.

One of the book’s strengths is its focus on character development. Maximo is struggling to make ends meet and has no cases to work on, while Mamie Motley and her son Algernon, who has returned home with the dream of opening a restaurant despite his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Mimi Everheart, a wealthy woman who believes herself to be of noble birth and holds a grudge against Camilla. The novel provides insight into the characters’ thoughts and struggles, with each character facing unique challenges and aspirations. The author’s writing style is descriptive and engaging, drawing the reader into the characters’ lives and making them feel invested in their stories.

One of the most compelling aspects of “Humble Pie” is the way LeRoy explores the theme of mental illness. The portrayal of Algie’s verbal self-stimulations (The person speaks very loudly and frequently says things that are not appropriate.) They often repeat words and phrases that they learned as a child, especially from nursery rhymes, which they still remember very well) are so real that they give goosebumps.

What sets Humble Pie apart as an enjoyable read is the variety of its characters and their individual experiences. The book also touches on important social issues such as autism, privilege, and mental illness and does so in a way that is both sensitive and thought-provoking.

Kahuna - Tampa Bay

Kahuna: Vol. 1 – Tampa Bay by Brent A. Phillips

Book Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

KAHUNA: Vol 1. – Tampa Bay is not your typical supernatural beings fantasy book. While the story does feature some of the usual suspects, like vampires and witches, these characters appear in supporting roles. Meanwhile, the protagonist of the story is a water-manipulating kahuna, and many of the supporting players in his world are equally unique “supernatties” that don’t live among the pages of your average fantasy novel.  Purchase Here.

Author Brent A. Phillips dives deep down into the imagination to create a world filled with unique characters. It is a refreshing take on a genre that can often feel overplayed. With terrific character development, you can easily get drawn into the lives of this diverse group. KAHUNA grips you from the start and makes you interested to discover what new creation lies around the next page.

Phillips tends to keep things light even when the darkness approaches. Humor weaves throughout the book despite the dangers constantly confronting our lead character Vox Montague. Sex, violence, alcohol, culinary delights, sports rivalries, and a diehard devotion to the ones he loves are the driving forces behind this likable lead.

The water-wielding kahuna plumber is tasked with keeping the peace among all supernatural beings in Tampa Bay and the surrounding Florida area. However, despite having the two full-time jobs of peacekeeper and plumber, he still finds plenty of time to drink his way into trouble and let his sexual appetites take the wheel more often than they should.

KAHUNA is an easy read that can be hard to put down. As the nefarious activity of supernatties continues to heat up in Tampa Bay, you can easily get swept along as Vox battles his way up the baddie food chain while attempting to uncover a plot that threatens the city and deeply affects the people closest to him.

Phillips succeeds in keeping the reader eager for more up to and including over the final page. The story is fast-paced, and the action and suspense continue to build with every sentence. Once you have finished the book, you will be champing at the bit to get your hands on KAHUNA Vol 2. Hawaii.