The Seed

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*This book was provided for an honest review

Reviewed by: Demetrius Svette

“A little reminder that each rose is so very different in its own way, even roses from the same bush. I think you’ll find that you need to care for each of the roses singly in order for the whole bush to be healthy and grow. She is unique, and if I try to raise her like any other child, it’s going to result in nothing but disappointment and heartache for the both us. We’ll both wither and die, just like the rose bush will if each of its parts are not properly taken care of.”

The Seed revolves around two main characters: Alicia, the mother- which is a character stronger than most who would do anything in the world to protect and keep her daughter safe- and Mindy. Alicia is put through tests and a series of what ifs that leaves her no clear answers and just does what needs to be done. She is dealing with other problems like the school that her daughter goes to that forces her to stop what she is doing and flee over there in an instant, problems with her job, and also the Government. Alicia has a strong emotion and power of love towards Mindy and will not stop at anything to be by her side, and protect her like a mother should.

Mindy is Alicia’s daughter; in this story she is put through some heart wrenching experiences and it puts you on your toes. You may find yourself without nails while flipping through the pages in Mindy’s point of view. Mindy goes through a lot of abuse in this story of The Seed but not necessarily in the more conventional ways that people talk about. In the beginning of the book, it talks about abuse and it is portrayed to be swept under the carpet to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Abuse recruits its followers; it creates monsters out of once beautiful people by putting them into unspeakable torments and habitats. Will you become the survivor of The Seed?

Wendi Starusnak puts this book together like you are reading two entirely different books within the same book; you are put in two different points of views- the mother’s and the child’s. It makes you ask questions throughout, page after page, and it will make you feel like you are The Seed. Wendi is creative and interesting while making suspense come alive, making it feel so surreal at times through the journey this back and forth scenario creates. She has the power within her words that will make you cringe, ball your fist, and feel sympathy towards her characters. She is a talented writer, making characters that you feel like you can emotionally bond with and a story line that takes creativity to a whole different level. I do look forward to seeing what else she brings to the table in her books.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Evicted

*This book was provided from bloggingforbooks.com for an honest review

 

Reviewed by: Jetana Mutter

A home is something that everyone takes for granted; it’s there when you need a place to sleep, when you need comfort, even to entertain others with various parties/gatherings. It is a necessity for sure, we all need shelter from our environments- be it cold, hot, snowy or desert- but it’s not something we ever really think about not having. Evicted takes a hard look at what happens when you fall behind on rent and cannot catch up; it talks about what is basically taboo in society since the early days of renting and continuing today- being evicted from your home. It is seen as a somewhat shameful act, not being able to provide for either yourself or your family, a place to call home. There are many out there who have either been through this process themselves or have known someone who has gone through this; you see it everywhere you go, especially in the big cities- the homeless population has steadily rose in the past decade since the Recession and housing crisis of 2008, over 30 percent. On any given night there are almost 550,000 people being out on the streets, this isn’t including those who have been able to seek places to stay at shelters that are available.

Who are the people who get evicted from their homes, and why? These are questions that Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, sought to find out. In trying to understand poverty better, he realized that poverty is more of a relationship between the poor and the rich and found the way he needed to understand that relationship though looking at the eviction process. It is recommended when renting a home that you spend no more than 30 percent of your total income on your housing needs; everyone who has rented a home knows this because when filling out that application, companies who specialize in renting or property managements ask for your income to see how much that rent to income ratio is- the minimum that is asked is that you make three times the amount of rent, the maximum I have personally seen is five times the amount of your rent. But there are a lot of people in this country that depend on fixed incomes rather than logging hours at a job that pays by the hour or even being salaried. When your livelihood comes on a fixed income, you have to see what you can afford on that and often times, it is not enough; when your rent to income ratio is 70-80 percent instead of the recommended 30.

Upon his research, Mr. Desmond lived in the places that he talks about in this book- he saw it with his own eyes and was able to speak to those living in these situations. He talks regularly about a few people that he chose to center this heart-wrenching truth around. These are ordinary people in the city of Milwaukee who are on fixed incomes or have had circumstances arise that they are no longer employed and are trying their best to get by, but sometimes your best isn’t enough; your best won’t pay the bills if there’s no money. Like Scott, a resident of College Mobile Home Park, who before becoming addicted to painkillers due to slipping a disk in his back while working at a nursing home, was a licensed nurse and lived in a very nice area of town in a beautiful apartment. His painkiller addiction strove him to even take meds from his patients until the nursing home discovered he was behind it- and eventually was fired. At his disciplinary hearing, he lost his license indefinitely in Wisconsin and that’s when he started using hard drugs. He would work odd jobs here and there but mostly took care of his roommate and relied on his fixed income to pay the bills. When it wasn’t enough, Scott and Teddy-his roommate- were evicted from their home. Scott spent the next few months crashing where he could and trying to get clean until he slipped up and started using again; he was unable to keep a steady job to be able to pay for more than basic necessities like food or shampoo.

Or Arleen, who had two boys that the state hadn’t taken away that she was trying to support on her SSI benefits for chronic depression. Her benefits totaled about $628 a month before it got reduced because she had missed an appointment; her rent was $550 a month to live in a rundown apartment in the inner city ghetto with her two children leaving less than $100 to last a month and provide for themselves. There are many other cases where the income ratio is so high that it doesn’t leave anything for being able to get basic things for your children, or if you do then it comes at a price; it comes down to either a home for your child or being able to get them new shoes.

I had a lot of notes set out to make my review but these notes won’t do the same justice as seeing it for yourself. There are points that I got pissed off- where it describes how much one of the landlords makes off of her properties but yet is unwilling to put any more than she has to into it to keep it functional- but reading this book has helped me get a new perspective on things. No matter how much of a bad situation you may find yourself in, it could always be worse. Be thankful for what you have, because there’s a lot of people out there who don’t have anything at all. I highly recommend this book, it provides an insight into a “taboo” in our society that isn’t talked about, but maybe it should be.

Inferno

Inferno
*This book was provided for an honest review

Reviewed by: Demetrius Svette

Have you ever wanted to know what pure hell is or what true evil looks like? The existence between good and evil is irrelevant in this original piece of fiction created by Yolanda Olson. True evil is not yet conceived by the things you read when you are growing up; evil does not exist under your bed, in your closet or in a story. True evil lies awake in the darkest recesses of the abyss and into the corners that will haunt your life, your dreams and even touch the deepest parts of your soul. Evil has the ability to know what you are doing or thinking before you even do; it consists of every sin and torture you see when you turn the pages. When you read Inferno, you are brought into a world where these things really exist.

Some say that true evil lives in hell, but what do you do when that hell is your life? Jocelyn, our protagonist in Inferno, is experiencing this hell personally with Pater, our antagonist, as her demon. Jocelyn will have to face perilous tests Pater gives her and in doing so find the power and strength to fight the evil that sits before her eyes for the bounds of love for her family- going through every twist and turn that tries to stop her along her way. Can she protect the ones she loves and keep herself safe enough to do it or will she succumb to the inner darkness of others that surrounds her? Beautifully crafted from beginning to end, Inferno will make you beg for more.

Yolanda Olson is yet another legend before our eyes- among the ranks of Eli Roth, M. Night Shyamalan and the more recent, Jordan Peele. Ms. Olson provides just enough detail to suck you in and let your imagination wander to visualize the world that Jocelyn is in. When it comes to word choices and how it is presented to the audience, Yolanda is a genius. The only way I can describe it is Inferno is if M. Night Shyamalan was to do The People under the Stairs, and that’s only scratching the surface of it. This story is definitely not for the faint of heart as it can be described as sickening, torturous and damn right wrong but Inferno is not for your ordinary soul. Yolanda Olson is original in all terms of the word and I personally encourage her to continue her writing of this genre and never stop. Pick up a copy of this book to step into the bottomless pit of hell she brings for you to experience and enjoy your true horror!

Crazy Crab

Crazy Crab

*This book was provided for an honest review

Crazy Crab by Mark Evans is a delightful children’s book that follows the life of Steve the hermit crab. It starts out by telling us that Steve is not the average hermit crab as the illustrations show him surfing in front of a crowd on the beach before showing us that he is the best at his job, which is selling homes mostly. Even though Steve is very good at what he does, he doesn’t want to sell anymore; he wants to follow his dreams to be an astronaut. I read this to my 3 and 4 year olds, and while my daughter liked it, my son loved it even more. The illustrator, Steve Page, made the illustrations very colorful and whimsical; upon looking at it again while writing this review, I came across a funny item that Steve put in one illustration that my son sidetracked me from seeing because he focused on the rocket ship; in the left hand bottom corner of the page is a cute but funny drawing that is sure to make adults laugh. Crazy Crab is excellent in teaching our children to not listen to what others have to say and follow your dreams; as there will always be people in this world that will try to convince you that you can’t do something, but Steve shows us that with hard work and determination, your dreams can come true!

Nightmare in the Shadows

Nightmare in the Shadows

Reviewed by: Demetrius Svette

Nightmare in the Shadows starts us with Brooke Stevens, who is a newspaper journalist by trade, on vacation to in her in her small hometown of Brines, Missouri. The small town is rocked by a gruesome discovery while Brooke is home visiting her father; a local jogger has found a mass grave containing six bodies in a neighbor’s field- so much for her vacation. This isn’t the first time this quiet town has been rocked by a murderer’s secret- just ten years prior, Ms. Steven’s own mother was murdered without the cops finding any trace of her killer. With a killer that only wants to talk to Brooke and death threats on everyone around her including herself, will Ms. Stevens be able to break the code of the killer before it’s too late?

Stephanie Brown has a gift of building characters and an incredible story that will draw you in from the start, making your heart beat faster and faster with every word that you read. I would have liked to have seen more details in the book but I still could not put it down; the imagination of this horrific yet twisted and fascinating must read that she has shared with the world put me on edge so much I had to find out what happened next. It would be interesting to see this adapted into a movie.

Blitzed: The Drugs in the Third Reich

BlitzedReviewed by: Demetrius Svette

There are plenty of books explaining the rise and the fall of the Third Reich in Germany with economic devastation and nationalism being the most cited as a contributing factor to many of them; but are there any books that go in depth on a personal level instead of an overall point of view? Thanks to Norman Ohler, there is now. Ohler is so creative in his writing, I just could not put this book down- every turning of the page fills your mind with more knowledge and more information of the Reich’s influences that destroyed it all.

Ohler presents his findings in such a way that it feels like it could change history; from the rise of the Reich in 1933 to its downfall in 1945, but through the creation and consumption of drugs. From drugs like pervitin, better known as the people’s drug with methamphetamine as its active ingredient, to mainstream companies that are major players in the pharmaceutical world even today- like Merck, Boehringer and Knoll (who was sold to Abbott Laboratories in 2002)- the creations of the many drugs and different raw material came to matter. The Reich was the controller of the global cocaine market at its highest point with a whopping eighty percent of the cocaine and raw materials coming from Germany as the slogan “Made in Germany” became a guarantee of quality more than anything else.

Pervitin became a routine “grocery item” well before the war in the civilian population with Nazis ordering “Germany, awake!” The methamphetamine made sure that the country stayed awake. “The ‘doping mentality’ spread into every corner of the Reich.” Ohler writes, “With pervitin taken since the Invasion of Poland to the blitzkrieg on France, methamphetamine was spreading like wildfire and would pass through every barracks gate. War was seen as a task that needed to be worked though and the drug seemed to help the tank units, soldiers, the navy and kamikazes not to worry too much about what they were doing in these foreign countries.” The soldiers were suggested as being animated engines; could this of been what they were talking about with the “super soldiers” of World War II?

The main characters in this fascinating adventure that turns the tables on the Third Reich on a personal level is Adolf Hitler and his personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell with Hitler falling very ill; he was better known as Patient A in Dr. Morell’s diary. Ohler writes in detail about Hitler’s drug use throughout the war, which began with the powerful injection of glucose and vitamins before his speeches to help him ramp up the Nazi followers. The drugs Hitler were taking became more potent with cocktails made up of hormones, steroids and vitamins until in his last year, where he peaked at using both cocaine and eukodal. Ohler suggests with his findings that Patient A was not Dr. Morell’s only guinea pig and that throughout World War II, Germany was fighting a whole different war within.

Between the books that I have read on World War II already and Ohler’s telling of events, it almost gives off that warped feeling and really makes you think how different it would have been if Dr. Morell was not involved with Hitler, doping him up every time he requested. Could Hitler and his cult like Nationalism still be around today? Could he have succeeded in world domination like he and the Nazis were after?

Ohler is a longtime journalist who spent 5 years researching Blitzed in numerous archives across Germany and the United States. He adds in his bibliography the most important sources that he used for the book are unpublished documents; archives opened especially for this research. Unpublished material, countless reports and files from German and American state archives have been complemented by interviews with contemporary witnesses and military historians to support his research. In this context he pointed out the aspects of Third Reich still cannot be consulted in London archives; and in Moscow, access to researches in the secret archives of the former Soviet Union are still severely restricted. Any type of World War ll history buff, historians, or those who just love learning should have this on their bookshelf right next to The Rise and Fall of Third Reich by William H. Shirer.

Addicted

ADDICTED_EVBelle_Cover

*This book does contain mature content.

Addicted is a new novella from E.V. Belle that follows Rose, a nineteen year old college student, and her encounter with the mysterious Asher. When she receives her first message from Asher on Study Buddy, she’s in disbelief that someone as handsome as Asher could want anything to do with her. She quickly gets pulled into this all-consuming budding relationship- finding herself addicted to Asher but is he as addicted to her as she is to him? What happens when Rose finds out that there’s more to Asher than what she think she knows, can she overcome these new aspects to him that she has no clue of? This novella does contain mature content, it gets graphic when describing the steamy scenes. I loved the way Ms. Belle wrote the steamy scenes- not too overpowering but still enough to get it hot, and the story line flowed easily. The only thing I didn’t like is about Addicted is that it was too short, I would have loved to have known what else happens but I’d like to think that Ms. Belle is keeping us on a cliffhanger because she plans to do another Rose/Asher story line; I know I would like to see more!

Spot: A Sea Pup’s Survival Guide

Spot-cover_art.jpgSpot: A Sea Pup’s Survival Guide by Laura Knight is a wonderful interactive book for young children to learn about the importance of taking care of the the world’s oceans. This book follows along Spot, a young sea lion, who is having a great time with his sea lion buddies until finds himself in trouble when he gets tangled up into some nets and trash that have polluted the ocean. The illustrations of Spot are very colorful and captures the kids attention while the pictures of real sea life provides fun facts for them to learn about the oceanic environment. I have a 3 and a 4 year old, and they absolutely loved it; they sat down with us the whole time to read- which is quite a feat considering they love to listen to us read but like to bounce around from one thing to the next while we have story time. The end of the book includes some activities to get children more involved including asking questions, how to spot what trash is and if it should be on the ground or in the ocean and a creative activity to show how the act of kindness works to make the world a better place. This book is meant for young children, the author recommends 3-7 years, but if we can teach our children to care about the world at a younger age, then maybe we as the human race can really start to protect our planet; after all, this is the only world we have and if we aren’t going to take care of it, who will?