Soul of the Elephant by Pam Laughlin – Review

Soul of the Elephant by Pam Laughlin Book Cover
Soul of the Elephant by Pam Laughlin – Review

Rating – 4/5

Born in a family of mahouts (elephant trainers), Hemit dreams of getting his elephant in the cattle fair next year. He is a gentle soul and understands animals in a way that no one can. He believes the relationship between a mahout and his elephant should be based on trust, love, and respect. However, his father uses harsh ways to dominate his elephant. Unable to withstand any more ill-treatment towards the elephants in the family stable, he takes a stand against his father.

Hemit’s yearning to understand the elephants better leads him to a mystical fakir, who everyone believes is an evil sorcerer. But Hemit sees otherwise and accepts the fakir’s help to learn how to communicate with his beloved elephant. Will Hemit succeed in convincing his father that love and respect are the only ways to gain an animal’s trust? With his new-found learning, can Hemit win Asha’s (an abused elephant) trust? Read Soul of the Elephant by Pam Laughlin to find out.

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Whispers from the Depths by C. W. Briar – Review

Only a chosen few, called Whisperers, are gifted with the Voice – the ability to tame the wild and dangerous water spirits. However, the once revered Whisperers are now an enslaved lot forced to serve under cruel kings and nobles. Their price of freedom is too high to pay. Betka, a novice Whisperer, can only dream of being free again and being reunited with her family.

A dangerous water spirit has attacked the castle where Betka’s sister is serving. She, somehow, joins the crew that has been assigned to protect that castle in hopes of finding her sister alive. However, upon reaching there, the spectacle of carnage that Betka and the crew witnesses make any chance of finding any survivor slim. But they need to enter the castle, unaware that a savage foe awaits them inside. Can Betka save her sister? Will the other crew members perish too? Read Whispers from the Depths by C. W. Briar to find out.

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The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – Review

Cover of The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – Review

Rating – 3/5

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian Peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. 

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

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Screechers by Kevin J. Kennedy & Christina Bergling – Review

Screechers by Kevin j. Kennedy & Christina Bergling

Rating – 5/5

In a post-apocalyptic world, where there are virtually no human beings left, mutated monsters roam free. The new world is now inhabited by merciless, furless Apoc-wolves, abominable, giant crab-scorpion hybrids, and many more nameless predators.

One of such monsters is the screecher, a massive beast evolved to kill and survive. One screecher, after losing its family, decides to get out of the abandoned city and explore the areas beyond. Its surviving nephew also opts to tag along with it, albeit at a distance.

On the other hand, a trio of human survivors flees their burnt-down community in search of greener pastures. These two stories collide in a surprisingly tender manner in Screechers, a post-apocalyptic novella by Kevin Kennedy and Christina Bergling.

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The Nothing Within by Andy Giesler – Review

Book Cover of The Nothing Within by Andy Geisler
The Nothing Within by Andy Geisler – Review

Rating – 4/5

In the year 2161, the rise of the chimera precipitated a catastrophic event (called the Reckoning) that wiped away the human population from the Earth, barring a few people. Generations later, descendants of those survivors are leading a rustic life within walled villages, afraid to go beyond the boundaries due to the fear of the chimeras. Further, they honor traditions and have a deep mistrust for technology.

Young Root, however, is different. Blind daughter of the village guardian, her endless curiosity and impertinence test her fellow villagers’ patience. A tragic event leads her to the wild country beyond the village walls where she learns the truth about her ancestors, and how the world she inhabits has come to this state.

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Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards by Joye Emmens – Review

Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards by Joye Emmens – Review

Rating – 4/5

Set among the vineyards in Southern France and Central California, Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards by Joye Emmens is an enchanting novel that celebrates the resilience of human spirit and the blossoming of love.

Olivia found her calling in winemaking after spending summers in her grandparents’ vineyard in California, Clos de Harmonie. She eventually pursues a degree in Viticulture and Enology and decides to complete her Master’s degree project at a Frenchman’s biodynamic vineyard in France that has been tended to by his family for the last five generations. It’s love at first sight for Olivia and Luke, the Frenchman. As she spends her time in Luke’s family vineyard, she is constantly racked by the guilt that she is neglecting Clos de Harmonie.

A tragic turn of events leads Olivia to return to California. She decides to get Clos de Harmonie certified as a biodynamic vineyard. No one thinks she can do it. Can Olivia prove herself? Can she turn around a decrepit vineyard and not lose Luke in the process?

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