Saturday, September 18, 2010

Burger King Boycott Lifted

I am not a feminist.  I certainly believe there are some things that men are just naturally better at.  These items include carrying heavy boxes and taking out the trash.  Not just because I hate to do those is because I hate to do them!  That's not the point!  Several years ago Burger King aired a series of commercials that so enraged me that I've not eaten there since then- until today.  These commercials targeted the male demographic ages 18-34, which at the time happened to be their biggest consumers.  I tried to be understanding, but honestly when a company tells me that their food is made for men, I say men can keep their food and they don't need my business!  Seriously!  If I wanna eat a big fat burger and gain 80 pounds I shouldn't be told I can't simply because I'm a girl!  Don't get me wrong, they  never told me they wouldn't serve me or anything like that, but I was just disgusted with the company in general after these 'man loving' commercials.  That doesn't even mention the fact that every Burger King I had gone into was filthy with horrible customer service.  I was willing to over look those things.  Then came all the creepy king commercials and those just made me glad I'd already boycotted The King.

This morning, however, a friend and I were out for breakfast and that's where she really wanted to go, so I relented.  How things have changed!  I had a wonderful chat with the manager on duty, Doris, and she explained to me that Burger King had recently changed hands and were trying to get rid of their chauvinistic image and make the entire atmosphere more friendly.  The restaurant was spotless.  The food was hot and delicious.  The staff were friendly, smiling, and accommodating!  I'm not sure that all Burger King's have switched over to this new, wonderful eating place, but here in North Carolina I'm glad to say that I can finally eat at Burger King again!  Doris, thank you for allowing me to forgive this company for their previously shoddy ways!

If any of you have boycotted Burger King, I strongly suggest you give them another shot.  Things have definitely changed and I'll be going back soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Olay Total Effects Body Wash

Olay has a new body wash out that supposedly is a 7 in 1 advanced anti-aging wash.  I can't tell you for sure if this part is true.  The 7 anti-aging effects include:  Moisturizes, improves elasticity.  locks in moisture, brightens dull skin, evens skin tone, smooths rough skin, minimizes the appearance of dry lines. 

I have to admit that my experience with this body wash wasn't all I'd hoped for.  First, I had trouble getting the wash out of the bottle because it's just too thick.  Imagine a cross between a body lotion and body butter.  It took quite a bit of water and squeezing to get enough out to try.  The second thing I noticed was the horrible stench.  You've all been around that guy that puts on more cologne than necessary thinking it'll cover the fact that he hasn't had a bath in a week.  Usually he's found in bars or at work (or both if you work at a bar!).  Anyway, that's exactly what this body wash smells like.  It was nauseating!  I was hoping the smell would rinse off but I was so wrong!  I ended up having to bathe again just to get a bit of the smell off of me.  I do admit that my skin felt soft and silky afterwards.

I don't suggest this body wash to any woman on this planet.  I know several men who might enjoy it and to them I say that it's definitely worth a shot.  Sorry, Olay, but this girl is not touching this stuff again until improvements are made.

Monday, September 13, 2010

From Fear To Love by B. Bryan Post

Bryan Post speaks to parents about the challenges they face when dealing with behaviors that are often present for adopted children.  He helps parents understand the impact of early life trauma and the impact of interruptions in the attachment process.  In his compassion for parents and children he offers hope and solutions for the challenges families face.  Many parents of adopted children express their fear not only for their child's present behaviors, but for what will become of them in the future.  Bryan's straightforward, clear-cut approach has created peace and healing for hundreds of families; families who once operated in fear, are now experiencing love. - From the back of the book

Being a single mom of a child with special needs has it's difficulties.  I've read mountains of books in search of answer to make things easier for both of us.  That's right.  I said 'mountains'.  That may be a slight exaggeration, but it's slight.  I want my child to feel safety and comfort because I love him.  I'm not alone in this.  Most parents feel that way.  When you have a child that has autism, brain damage, rage issues, control issues or trauma, it can be difficult to figure out how to proceed with your child.  When you adopt a child, you have no idea exactly what issues you're going to be facing until you face them.  Although this book is geared towards parents of adopted children, I strongly urge every single parent to go buy this book.  Most of the behaviors described in this book are not only found in adopted children.  (I know you know that, Bryan!  I'm just sayin!)  Not only does this book explore how to handle the issues we have with our children, Bryan goes into detail to explain why these things occur.  Through reading this book, we gain a better understanding of how our children work, how we work, and how we can work together to build a stronger family. 

I love the way this book is put together.  Honestly, it's the best parenting handbook I've seen for someone with a child that has difficult behaviors.  Reading it through the first time, you gain a basic understanding for the principles based in the book.  It's a lot like being at an inspirational seminar where you have a charismatic man urging you to find your parenting potential and reach it.  Bryan is a cross between Emeril and the Shamwow guy.  Well, in writing mannerisms he is.  Add to that a genuine concern for families and it makes this book just amazing to read through.  After the initial read, go back and reread the chapters that pertain to you.  Underline behaviors and triggers that you find that are pertinent to your relationship with your child. Even if you aren't into reading, this book is a must have.  Each chapter has  a section over-viewing the key concepts of that chapter.  If you just go through and read those key concepts, you'll gain a new understanding of your relationship with your child.

Again, I know this book is geared towards adopted children and families.  If you are thinking of adopting a child, please read this book.  If you have adopted a child, please read this book.  If you yourself have been adopted, please read this book.  If you're a parent and have nothing to do with adoption in any manner, please read this book.  A greater understanding of our children and how to handle them can only help.

He Blew Her a Kiss by Angie Pechak Printup and Kelley Stewart Dollar

It comes as a brush of the shoulder, a breath, a familiar scent, or perhaps a gentle breeze when everything else is still.  These remarkable sensations are all examples of our loved ones communicating to use after they are gone from this life-letting us know they are in a better place, and yet still with us.

He Blew Her a Kiss collects dozens of suc stories of after-death communication, in which husbands, wives, children, grandparents, and others, gently let us know that their spirit lives on.  - From the back of the book

This collection is a great idea.  It was sparked by the story of Tom and Judy McKelroy and has blossomed from there.  Stories are currently being collected for a second book as well as a special 9/11 edition.  To submit your own story, go to He Blew Her a Kiss.

I found most of the stories touching, but not heart-wrenching and goose-bumpy as I'd hoped for.  A skeptic reading this would suggest that most of the stories are mere coincidence while others must be made up.  For someone who's had a brush with the other side, they'd find themselves nodding in accord with each story.  The upside for me is that each story in this book is a true tale, from a real person.  The downside for me is that the writing could have been just a tad bit more emotional.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, it just isn't as in depth as I'd like.  Each story starts out in such a matter of fact manner that it's difficult to care enough about each person to really get the full effect of their experience.  For subsequent books, I'd really like to see each story expanded to twice it's length with a little more detail and heart inserted in each one.  Overall, though, this is an elegant read for those who have lost someone and seek a little comfort.

Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet

Who has bigger biceps?  Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura?  How did Bill Murray get fans to fall in love with him?  What did Joe Pesci do that was hero worthy?  How tall was Judy Garland? How many children did Dr. Suess have?

These are just a sampling of the questions you'll have answered here!  This book is full of anecdotes of movie stars.  I was a little surprised at the range.  We have everything from Boris Karloff to Jim Carrey.  Schochet is a tour guide in Hollywood.  He's researched each tale. 

I'm impressed with how well organized this book is.  There are different chapters for different genres of movies, including a television section.  Most of the anecdotes are funny, while some are just fascinating.  Reading this book is like going on a Hollywood tour and finding out information about all of your favorite actors and actresses.  It doesn't end there though!  Get the low down on directors and producers as well. 

Though I wouldn't suggest this book as something to just sit down and read through, it's definitely a wonderful coffee table or bathroom book (Sorry Stephen!).  The anecdotes are short enough that you can flip through and read one or two at a time.  Beware:  each one you read will make you want to read more!

Mannie's Diet and Enzyme Formula by Emanuel Barling, Jr., Esq. and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N.

I admit it.  I'm a sucker for a book about nutrition and how it affects the body.  No, I haven't jumped on the organic bandwagon yet, but I have been debating it.  There are so many diseases and illnesses that have been proven to be directly affected by the food choices we make.  I'm no health guru, but I do know what makes me feel better and what makes me feel worse.  We've all had those times when we've eaten something and realized about an hour later that it was a mistake.  OK, enough of my opinions here, let's get on with the book review!

After Mannie and his wife became ill, they started doing their homework.  I won't go into all the details of what they've been through or how they came to find their breakthroughs, but you can feel free to investigate yourself.  This book is not written after several test trials.  Mannie isn't some world famous doctor.  What's contained in this book are the truths that Mannie uncovered for himself through what appears to be years of extensive research and self-trials. 

First look at the book shows that it's huge.  Don't be thwarted by it's size though.  One fourth of the book is comprised of food lists and references.  The rest of the book deals with different diseases and how they're affected by food, different types of food, enzyme information, Mannie's own personal diet, theories on eating (how much and how often), and interesting anecdotes.  The most important part of this book is the plan for figuring out your own personal healthy eating plan.  Since each of our bodies is constructed differently, logically foods will react differently with each of us.  Mannie shows us how to use an elimination formula to best find the foods that react best with our bodies for ultimate health and healing.

This book is not written for those of you who want to find a few recipes quickly or want a pull-out chart telling you exactly what to do.  This is in-depth reading and not for those who are just looking for another fad diet.  This isn't a diet, it's a way of life.  Each chapter is carefully written with information that needs to be carefully read instead of skimmed.  If you're looking for a healthy alternative for a disease or illness, this may be the book you're looking for. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Forgive Yourself by Allie Sager

When the unhappily married, Sammy Logan, is unable to control herself around Connor Simpson, the price for their betrayal will be high.  Her conscience will haunt her much like the darker secret for which her husband, Rick, has never forgiven her.  In a rush of action, secrets Sammy thought she could control rear their ugly heads and the past strewn with lies and innuendo will see the light of day in a present filled with betrayal and heartache. - From the back of the book

Wow!  This is a perfect example of not judging a book by it's cover.  Honestly, I've put off reviewing this one as long as possible because the book just looks so boring!  Of course, the back doesn't sound boring, but when faced with a plain blue book that simply has a bridge and a cloud on the front, it just doesn't seem that appealing.  After reading, I realize the symbolism in the front cover, but honestly the book packaging itself is a turn off.  I'm really glad that I forced myself to see past that, as well as the lack of editing, and devour the story inside.

The characters are extremely unlikable.  They're not sweet and endearing.  They evoke a strong emotional response in the negative.  Personally,I didn't like any of them and was reminded of a book I'd read once before where I just couldn't get through the book because I couldn't stand the characters.  In this instance, however, I had the pull of the sweet 'other world' to keep me entrenched in the story instead of letting my hatred and rage at the 'live' characters push me away.

The story is staged pretty well.  I had an issue with the ending, but I can't really go into that without adding spoilers to my review.  I can say that though I wasn't a fan of the ending, I do appreciate the fact that Sager was able to pull it off to the point that I was just a little disappointed instead of being angry and frustrated.

Over all, this was a good read that I just couldn't put down.  It's definitely not for the faint of heart, as some of it is quite graphic and the actions of some of the characters are a bit depressing and over the top.  It's a fast-paced read that keeps you engrossed throughout.  It also has a moral message throughout the book, which is always a plus.  It's nice to have an entertaining story that leaves you with a feeling that you've had a new insight.

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown by Olivia deBelle Byrd

While Olivia deBelle Byrd was repeating one of her many Southern stories for the umpteenth time, her long-suffering husband looked at her with glazed over eyes and said, '"Why don't you write this stuff down?"  Thus was born Miss Hildreth Wore Brown - Anecdotes of a Southern Belle.  If the genesis for a book is to shut your wife up, I guess that's as good as any.

On top of that, Olivia's mother had burdened her with one of those Southern middle names kids love to make fun.  To see 'deBelle' printed on the front of a book seemed vindication for all the childhood teasing. -Taken from the back of the book

I approached this book expecting to find a bunch of fancy, schmancy snobby anecdotes.  In the north, sometimes we're left with the impression that a southern belle is just plain prissy!  I was expecting a few prissy anecdotes that would make me snort in derision.  Surely what would make a southern belle laugh wouldn't be funny to me.  I'm neither prissy, nor a diva.  I admit it, once again, I was wrong!

Byrd writes in such a manner that I was laughing out loud throughout  most of the book.  The stories she tells are entertaining and funny, as well as down to earth.  For me, the enjoyment lay in her writing.  It's pure and untamed.  She writes exactly what she's thinking and it definitely shines through.  Her bright wit and sarcasm show just what an amazing personality she has as a person, which brings the book to life right in your very hands. 

I strongly suggest this book to every woman out there.  Most of it surrounds her place in her family, as parent, wife, daughter.  We can all easily identify with Byrd and at the same time learn from her quirky mannerisms.  Not only does this book provide an easy hour full of laughter, but several thought-provoking ideas on being a woman in this day and age. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Lost City of Atlantis by Benjamin Flinders


What has kindled the wrath of Poseidon?  Something of his has been stolen, and he will destroy all of ancient Atlantis to get it back.

Join Ethan and Dallin, two brothers who are transported back to the ancient city, as they make new friends, attempt to outwit a corrupt Magistrate, and seek to reunite an enslaved girl with her father.

Will Ethan and Dallin discover that they possess what Poseidon wants before it is too late?  Or will they be lost forever with the ancient City of Atlantis? -from the back of the book

Ethan and Dallin once again enter the magical travel trunk, this time finding themselves in ancient Atlantis.  I found this book as captivating as the first, Pirate Treasure.  The boys are quick thinkers, which is probably the only thing that saves their lives in this book.   In comparison with the first book, this one has more adventure and fewer laughs.  The humor in this book tends to stretch a bit farther.  Instead of just one-liners, we have humorous situations so the laughter lasts a bit longer.  The adventure in this book was a little fast-paced even for me!  I found myself wondering how they were going to get out of some sticky situations, my heart pounding right along with the boys.  This book is a bit more on the disgusting side.  There are a few situations where I found myself 'EEEEEEWWWWWWWW'ing out loud.  It's right up the alley of a child though and I'm sure they'll love the disgusting snail spewing.

Intended for children ages 8-11, this second book in the Traveling Trunk Adventure series is a definite hit.  I look forward to the third book, Excalibur, which is due out in December, hopefully in time for Christmas shopping!  For more information on the Traveling Trunk Adventure series, visit Flinders Press

Pirate Treasure by Benjamin Flinders

Ahoy maties!

Before ye embark on this reading adventure, be ye warned.  This here tale be for young lads and lasses who like pirate songs, swash-buckling, disgusting food, and a cursed treasure chest.

If ye ain't afraid of being thrown in the brig with Fish Breath Cookie, or walkin' the plank, then come and join Ethan and Dallin, two stout-hearted lads, who stumble onto me pirate ship in the middle of our getaway with the gold.  Blast me mother-in-law witch for sending them after me and me crew!

Captain Bartelmy

(From the back of the book)

Being the beginning of a series, I was interested to see how this book played out.  The second book in the series, The Lost City of Atlantis, has just recently been released and the third book is due out for release in December.  The first book of the series can make it or break it, and in my opinion, it definitely made it.

The basic idea for this series is that two brothers, Ethan and Dallin, have a traveling trunk.  Through the use of their imagination and a few props, it can transport them back in time to any location they choose.  The characters are well-written and fun.  These books are represented as being for the 8-11 crowd, and I found that to be spot on.  There are several chapters, but each is only a couple of pages long and there are no difficult words.  Though the book is mainly an adventure book (and full of adventure it is!), I found several giggles throughout the book and I'm sure that children will as well.  I can't wait to find out how my 11 year old enjoys this series. 

For me, the best part of this book came at the end.  There's a pirate dictionary!  Several common pirate words/phrases are listed and then the boys explain what the words mean, even though they aren't always correct.  Most of the illustrations in the book I found to be a bit bland, but the illustrations that the boys have 'drawn' in the pirate dictionary are just too adorable and funny! 

I strongly suggest this first book (Hopefully the series!  We'll know more as I read on!) for children in the 3rd-6th grade range.  If your reader is able to comfortably read Magic Tree House or Series of Unfortunate Events, they should be able to read these with no issues.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Disagreement in Idaho by Holt E. Glenn

It's tough to review a book that deals so openly with such a serious problem in our nation.  Illegal immigration is such a hot topic.  Regardless of where you are, you'll hear someone talking about it.  Not only that, you'll hear several different points of view.  Of course, I have my own personal views.  That's what makes reviewing this book difficult.  It's hard to sit back and say what I thought about this book without bringing my own personal views into it.  So, I'm going to attempt it, but please don't judge me too harshly.

This novel takes several fictional characters and shows how they're affected by the immigration laws.  We start off with Juan, an illegal immigrant who's family still lives in Mexico.  Juan just wants to make enough money to take care of his family so that he can move back to Mexico and be with them.  On the opposite side, we have Governor Seabon who's watching his state fall into despair over the extra costs coming from illegal immigrants.  He believes the right thing to do is take on the federal government, attempting to force them to enforce illegal immigration laws by denying health care, education, and closing off the borders.  In addition to these, we have a cast of haunting characters that are immersed in the illegal immigrant controversy in one form or another. 

The writing is smooth and the characters are realistic.  Even though a large amount of the book is political, it's formatted to be reader friendly and isn't bogged down with political jargon.  My only complaint with the entire book is that I now know more about the state of Idaho than I'd ever hoped to know.  I'm impressed with Glenn's research, but it really slowed me down. 

This would be a great book for reading clubs and discussion groups.  There are so many different points of view that are represented in a personal manner.  It's easy to see where each person is coming from and difficult to find the solution.  I believe any two people discussing this book could spark upon an amazing debate.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Miss Dimple Disappears by Mignon F. Ballard

It's 1942, almost a year since the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor, and the residents of the small town of elderberry, Georgia, have been rattled down to their worn, rationed shoes.  For young teacher Charlie Carr, life and love aren't going exactly as planned-her head dictates loyalty to the handsome corpsman, Hugh, but whenever she thinks of her best friend's beau, Will, her heart does the Jersey Bounce.  Charlie is doubly troubled by the disappearance of beloved schoolmistress Miss Dimple Kilpatrick one frosty November morning just before Thanksgiving.  miss Dimple, who has taught the town's first graders-including Charlie- for almost forty years, would never just skip town in the middle of the school year, and Charlie and her best friend, Annie, are determined to prove it. (Taken from the back of the book)

After enjoying Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed, I was really excited to get my hands on Ballard's newest book.  This book isn't due out until December 7th in paperback and November 23rd in hardcover, so you cozy lovers and mystery lovers, put this one on your wish list for Christmas!

In Ballard's laid back manner, we're transported to small town life during World War II.  The characters are vibrant and believable.  The time period has been researched well.  This is a light read with a true mystery in it.  I wasn't able to figure out who the 'bad guy' was and was pleasantly surprised at the end.  I was a little miffed because I actually liked the bad guys, but at least I was surprised.  Though the mystery involves murder, kidnapping, and secret government plans, it's kept at a fun and even tone through the actions of Miss Dimple as well as the rest of the cast of characters.  Miss Dimple's spunk is what entertained me most. 

Ballard's talent for creating nosy, inviting characters as well as intricate, mysterious plot makes this a must read for mystery lovers.  Most of the time you become sucked into the lives of the townspeople, but it just makes the ride that much more fun.

The Duck Song by Bryant Oden

Mr. Lemonade Stand just wants to sell some lemonade.  A pesky duck keeps walking up every day asking him for grapes!  How long will his temper hold out?  Will the poor, pesky duck ever get his grape? 

I am in love with this book!  I found myself giggling through it from the very first page.  The ARC copies aren't furnished with the sound component for the book so I wasn't able to check that out, but I'm betting it's as wonderful as the rest of the book.   In the back of the book there's a CD with several songs on it.  I found myself youtubing them so that I could share with my Facebook friends!  Though the book and songs are directed towards children, I found them hilarious and enjoyed them just as much as my son.  I believe I'm going to be walking around singing 'I Gotta Pea' for a few weeks! 

From a child's perspective, the illustrations really make the book.  They're bright and goofy and really draw your attention.  There are a few sentences on most pages and they're easy enough for young readers to make out.  My son, who's four, loved me reading it aloud to him.  We enjoyed this book together more than we have any other.  It brought smiles to both our faces.

I strongly suggest this book to any of you with young children.  The price is a bit much, but that's due to the sound components included as well as the CD.  It's a hardbound beautiful book that's well worth the price.  Also, they've installed a compartment so that the batteries are replaceable, prolonging the life of your book!  There isn't one thing I could think of to improve this book! 

Making A Family Home by Shannon Honeybloom

Making a Family Home is a book of real beauty, one both personal and universal.  In describing her home and family life, Shannon Honeybloom shows how she made- and how we can make- a house into a real home as she shares her own efforts, hopes, and lessons in making a safe and healthy home that provides warmth and intimacy for the whole family.

Illustrated in color with lively, evocative photographs, Shannon invites the reader into her home and offers warm encouragement and practical suggestions for virtually every aspect of bringing love, comfort, and beauty to the family home.  The chapters in Making a Family Home range from 'At Home with children' to 'The Front Porch' and 'The Playroom' to 'The Backyard and the Garden.'

Shannon Honeybloom is a friend and confidant who offers gentle suggestions and wise insights for parents who wish to surround their family with the best possible home environment. (Taken from the back of the book)

I feel rather apathetic about this book.  I suppose it's because it just wasn't quite what I was expecting or looking for.  I had expected to find a book full of decorating ideas or different techniques that might make a house seem more homey.  If you know ahead of time what you're getting with this book, it can be a valuable tool towards making your house more of a home for your family.  Don't expect too many designing tips though.  There are a few scattered throughout the book, but not enough to purchase the book solely for that reason.

This book is beautifully photographed.  It's worth getting it simply to look at the pictures.  There are pictures of Shannon's family as well as her home.  Shannon starts out the book explaining about her own upbringing and how she found herself wanting to make a good home for her children.  She then goes throughout each room of the house, including outdoors sections, and explains their importance in a home environment.  Then she gives her own specific beliefs on raising a family and how she's incorporated those into her home.

Though this book isn't what I was looking for, I can definitely see it's potential.  It would be a wonderful gift for a new bride or mother.

The Start of Something New

Want to win a $5 Amazon gift card?  Of course you do!  We all do!  It may not sound like a lot, but $5 is $5 and in the Amazon world, that's books!  Or bookmarks!  Or e-books!  Or chocolate to go with the books!  As a way to reward my readers, the first day of each month I'm going to have a drawing.  I'll take every follower that I have and toss them into a randomizer.  If you follow on Google as well as Networked Blogs, you get two entries.  It's that simple.  If you're a follower, you have a shot to win a $5 gift card!  The first winner will be drawn on October first, so spread the word!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vexation by Elicia Clegg

For him power and glory are not enough, immortality is the only possibility.  His vanity consumes him, forcing his actions to capture, control, and twist her very reality.  he will make her like him, in this he will not yield.

Welcome to Devin Sinclair's world...

A world where each move is watched, each move is carefully controlled, and trusting your eyes can be a fatal mistake.  She is alone, terrified of even her own deteriorating sanity.   She must find the truth which hides in the book, the book that reviles what really happened the few months she was held captive, locked in a game he directs.

Devin must unravel the truth and learn to trust her mind if she is ever to find freedom for her and her fellow captives.  (Taken from the back of the book)

Let's get the nasty stuff out of the way first on this one.  Editing definitely wasn't up to snuff.  I was able to overlook most of it other than the mistake of 'cleaver' instead of 'clever' since it brought the entire scene to a crashing halt for me.  That being said...on to the good stuff!

Brilliant!   Take Jack Ketchum.  Remove a tad bit of gore.  Add in more psychological thriller.  I'm shocked to find that this is Elicia's first book, but really excited that she's nearly finished with the second, Running With Chaos.  For all you horror and thriller readers out there, jump on the Elicia bandwagon before it's full.  She's definitely going places if she keeps herself entrenched in writing and gets a decent editor.

Thoughts on the it's just difficult!  I can't tell you what I'm really thinking right now because it will ruin the ending.   I do need to say that if your tastes run similar to mine, as you begin part three you'll want to toss the book aside in disgust.  Instead, I looked up at the heavens and shouted 'WHY, ELICIA??  WHY?!'  but I continued reading and I'm thankful I did!  Don't let the beginning of part three sway you from finishing the book.  This is easily one of the best books I've read this year.  Afterwards, even now, I find myself dissecting it and laughing maniacally. 

Kindle Giveaway

I don't normally blog about the giveaways and contests that I post in the sidebar, but this time I just had to.  Vera at Luxury Reading has informed me that they're giving away a brand new Kindle, several eBooks and a free 6 months subscription to Safari Books Online.  The deadline is October 4th, so hurry and click the link that says 'Kindle Giveaway' on the sidebar for your entry!  Good luck!!!

Note:  The kindle image posted is not the one being given away.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Indiana by N.C. Weyl

How does the child of a minister, a girl suddenly thrown into a community of poverty, racism, and indifference, resolve the conflict of good and evil for herself, especially when the dilemma extends to sending an innocent man to prison?  In N.C. Weyl’s moving and sometimes disturbing novel Indiana, this question is analyzed from the viewpoints of many townspeople, but is perhaps most clearly addressed by Sam, the girl who witnesses a terrible crime, and her brother Tyler, a boy whose voice brings wisdom and even philosophy to the story.  In the 1930’s, Indiana still boasted an active Ku Klux Klan, and separation of the races was not only mandated, but essential to co-existence.  Weyl explores many facets of this era, from intermarriage to mixed-raced children, and the thin line between disapproval and violence.  Perhaps most compelling in this multi-faceted novel-based-on-fact is not so much the choice Sam must finally make for herself, but what we learn, with her, about making the hard choice between compassion and the truth. (Taken from the back of the book)

Normally, as I’m reading a book I’ll be formulating what I want to say in the review at  the same time.  I have to admit, I’m almost at a loss for words on this book.  As I was reading,  no review thoughts were formulating.  Well, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the editing.  Other than that, however, nothing.  I was so drawn into the story that I just couldn’t bother worrying about what I was going to write in my review, so here I am attempting to figure out how to word it all.

Reading the back of the book, I was expecting a nice coming of age tale with a dark twist.  That isn’t what I got.  Yes, it’s definitely a coming of age tale with a dark twist, but it’s so much more.  I found myself transported to the 1930’s in rural Indiana.  Growing up an Indiana girl, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine, but you get the point.  The reality of the time is that racism was running rampant and being hidden incredibly well.  Sam and her family move to Indiana and find that their open-minded views on people of different colors aren’t readily accepted.  Though this isn’t what the entire story is about, it is the part that really sprung out at me.  The pure hatred and vile mannerisms of people who are scared of something different or not understood.  Even though the story doesn’t go too in depth about the atrocities that some of the KKK were capable of, Weyl has a way of telling the story that leaves you breathless and terrified.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Liam the Leprechaun by Charles A. Wilkinson

Liam the Leprechaun is a tale about one of Ireland's mythic "Little People"  who is all of that and more.  Liam feels he lives an almost invisible life in the village of Shillelagh and decides to do something about that.  After visiting the wisest of all leprechauns, O'Hoolihan, Liam takes to heart Hooley's advice and his life as well as himself begin to change.  Liam the Leprechaun is a simple tale, with lessons to be learned, for children everywhere, including the child in every adult.  (Taken from the back of the book)

What fun!  I loved this book!  Liam is absolutely adorable!  He's this cute, tiny, red-bearded leprechaun whom nobody ever notices.  He's sweet and kind but just hasn't found himself.  He feels like everyone overlooks him because he overlooks himself.  Once he visits Hooley and decides to take his advice, everything really starts looking up for him.  Liam learns a valuable lesson about believing in himself. 

With children's books I usually get a child to help review it.  Sadly, the only child I had available is a four year old, and this book is a little out of his reading range.  I would gauge this book at the age 6-10 range.  Though the book is cleverly illustrated, they're all in black and white.  I found them engaging and adorable, but the four year old just turned his head away.  This is definitely a book that I would purchase as a gift for one of my nieces or nephews, however.  Good moral values define the book and unusual fancy keep it entertaining.

No Good Like It Is by Mckendree R. Long III

A compelling and stunning portrayal of life during and after the American Civil War, No Good Like It Is is an epic tale of the adventures and misadventures of two soldiers who rode with Terry’s Texas Rangers. From the moment they met and everything that came after, West Point grad Second Lieutenant Dobey Walls and veteran Corporal Jimmy Melton always had the same sense of justice. After their years of battle, from the first and final charges of the Army of Tennessee, riding with Nathan Bedford Forrest, and playing a curious role in the Fort Pillow Massacre, it only made sense that they’d stick together.

Jimmy has Dobey’s back when their commander releases them to search for Dobey’s long lost family. On their way to the Panhandle where they think his family might be, the two come across destitute farmers, love-starved widows, murderous Home Guards, bootleggers, freed slaves, and a few Confederate Cherokees. Their pace slows to a mule’s when they save a woman and her daughter from Yankee deserters who’ve stolen a large Union payroll, and the killings put detectives and a renegade lawman on their trail. (Taken from the back of the book)

I started posting what’s on the back of the book when I wasn’t quite sure how to explain it. I’ve come to depend on it though because it usually portrays an overall idea of what the book is about rather than just what I personally took from it. Also, it’s usually written in a more charming manner than I myself would use. This book seems to be an exception for me, however. I did post it simply because it tells much more about the book than I plan to, but I can give you the synopsis in a few words. Two soldiers become best friends and have all sorts of adventures.

In the beginning, I felt like I was transported back to my teenage days, being forced to watch a western movie with my dad. I love you, Dad, but that was never my idea of a good time. Back then what I saw was a bunch of dirty old men riding around on dirty old horses shooting dirty old guns and looking for dirty old saloon girls. My tastes have somewhat matured since then and that wasn’t what I found at all. We have dirty old men, who are actually in their 20’s and quite handsome. We have dirty old horses, but thankfully they usually get shot or stolen (Sorry, horsey girls! I’m not one of you! They terrify me!). We have dirty old guns that are blazing at the rebels and the feds and all sorts of people. Those dirty old guns sure do cause a lot of action! As for those dirty old saloon girls, well they’ve switched to straight up whores in the whorehouses and what fun they are! This was like a ride down memory lane for me, but much more fun this time around!

I loved this book! I can’t lie to you and say it’s a quick and easy read. It doesn’t grab you and take you on a thrill ride. It doesn’t make you cry. There’s no mystery to be figured out at the end. What you find is an honest to history story about two comrades who happen to be soldiers. No, that isn’t their duty, that’s who they are. We get to ride along with them as they battle a multitude of enemies and mourn with them over lost friends. Best of all for me was that there was such a wonderfully infused sense of humor. Comments such as ‘ He vas dead when we left there. I doubt he got much better.’ kept me giggling sporadically throughout the action.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Object of Evil by Chris Duryea

Is Evil a living entity or is it a state of mind?  After being framed for corporate crimes he did not commit, Daryl Tempest unwittingly summons a cast of evil personae to lead his gruesome revenge.  With the famed Hotel Del Coronado in the background, Daryl is pushed into a downward spiral of psychotic confusion and soirees of eroticism, mystery, and ghostly illusions of Kate Morgan.  Once unleashed, Evil will not be contained. (Taken from the back of the book)

I have to be honest.  The sheer size of this book turned me off initially.  Don't get me wrong.  I love to read.  Sometimes a huge book is just what the doctor ordered.  At other times you want something you can read in two hours.  Since I've lately been in the mood for shorter books, I picked this one up with dread.  I knew I'd put it off too long though and had to force myself to pick it up.  As it was, reading in between life events, it took me two full days to finish it.  I have to admit it was a well-spent two days, though. 

Chris states that when writing this book he just sat down and began writing and watched to see where it would take him.  For me, that was obvious in the reading.  The story has a flow that's absolutely breathtaking.  The characters are well-formed and alive with no stunting.  Personally, Daryl was my favorite.  His mannerisms change so much in regards to whoever he's speaking with.  We all do that to some degree and it's wonderful to see that implemented in characters.   It's easy to open page one and plunge in head first.  Chris takes us all along on an intriguing and thrilling ride with him.

I do have to admit that I have one huge problem with the book.  If it were presented in movie format, it wouldn't be an issue at all.  As a reader, though, I found it a trifle annoying.  In the beginning we're presented with insurmountable description.  Each person, item, place is painstakingly drawn out for us.  It's difficult to get past the first chapter because the description of each character and the lumber yard, as well as the operation of the lumber yard, really bogs you down.  It's well-crafted description, don't get me wrong, but entirely too much for my tastes.  As the story unfolds, however,  it becomes a much more tolerable level.  The other issue I have, which interlocks with the vast amounts of description, is that in places of the book dialogue consumes everything.  Because of the need to keep characters straight without adding little descriptive phrases, names and nicknames are used repeatedly in sentences creating a monotonous reading tone.  I feel, personally, that if the description were spaced a bit more evenly throughout the book, it would make it a five star read. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Women's Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston CNM RN BSN LMT

Women have a largely unknown network of structures responsible for arousal and orgasm that even most medical professionals don’t know about. Join celebrated sexuality teacher Sheri Winston as she integrates ancient wisdom, lost knowledge and modern sexuality information in a sexy, fun, empowering guidebook that illuminates every woman’s secret paths to fabulous, orgasmically abundant sex. (Taken from the back of the book)

After reading the book myself and having varied thoughts about it, I thought it might be fun to get two more perspectives on it, both from male and female perspective. Personally, I like the way the book is set up. There are handy gray boxes throughout the book so that men can flip through and gain the most pertinent information to them. There are white outlined boxes as you flip through the book filled with ‘homework’ for women. The quotes and pictures inserted are beautiful. The sheer amount of research that went into this book is impressive and it’s worth a read if only for that. This book is not for the faint of heart and the easily offended, however.

SHE SAID: From the cover of the book, I was expecting a nice, calm manual that would show me possible secrets that might help in the bedroom. That isn’t exactly what I found. Though I enjoyed a lot of the book, I was a little disturbed at being asked to spend some quality time with my yoni. I felt like I was an extra character in ‘Julia’s Chocolates’. There is some good information to be found here, and several chuckles.

HE SAID: When I first looked at the book I thought that it would have some good information in it regarding ways to help my love life. I found this book extremely hilarious and could not take anything she had to say seriously. I found that this book was incredibly hard to get through to the point where I didn’t even finish it entirely. I glimpsed through most of the book and found that the author needs to re-evaluate her writing style. If she was writing a comedy and not a book that was supposed to be informational, then she did a good job. I would not recommend reading this to anyone.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Green Pieces: Green From the Pond Up by Drew Aquilina

This book is scheduled for publishing on September 4, 2010.  More information about the book and additional comic strips can be found at their website.

Life is never boring at the Pond when Iggy, Radic, Cabby and Roc meet. Enjoy a humorous yet educational look at the world from nature’s point of view through Cartoonist Drew Aquilina’s cartoon strip collection, Green Pieces: Green From the Pond Up. (Taken from enclosed literature)

Unlike most of the books I review, this one is a comic strip. I have to admit that that’s one of the things that drew me towards this book. It’s something out of the ordinary and I thought it might be a fun change. The other huge draw for me is that it’s being released on my birthday! Before I even received my review copy, I felt I had a sort of kinship with it.

Basically, this book is a wonderful compilation of a comic strip titled Green Pieces. It takes place in a pond with several talking animals and deals with different issues that face our environment. A deep look is taken at some serious issues but it’s done in a light-hearted and snarky manner that will draw readers.

Although this book is billed as being wonderful to share with children, I have to disagree. I believe that the issues brought up in the comic are important to share with children. I believe that reading this could be a fun way for children to learn about the environment and some of the more serious issues facing it. Some of the jokes in the comic are a bit too adult for me to want to share with my children. I found them humorous. I even chuckled a few times, but they just aren’t what I want my children reading. They aren’t crass or rude and I’m betting that my children wouldn’t even get them, but I’m a bit over protective. Another issue some parents may have with sharing this with their children involves a cigarette-smoking raccoon. The raccoon is supposed to be the bad example, but it’s subtle enough that children wouldn’t pick up on it unless someone else points it out to them.

This is a wonderful comic for anyone interested in learning more about animals and our environment. It did leave me giggling in a few places and smiling in others. I also found myself thinking from the perspective of animals more than that of humans. Overall, this was a great way to learn about serious issues in a fun way.

The Importance of Reviewing

Last year I reviewed a book titled The Lake That Stole Children.  Upon reading the book, I sent the author, Douglas Glenn Clark, a copy of my review.  I'd enjoyed the story, but disagreed wholeheartedly with the message it was sending to parents.  What happened next is exciting for me as a reader and as a reviewer.  Douglas contacted me and we discussed my review and his book.  We tossed a few ideas back and forth.  I'm sure Douglas had input from other reviewers as well.  Instead of getting angry at my review and tossing my opinions to the side, however, he went to work and made some changes. 

The Lake That Stole Children now comes with Start a Conversation with Story, a free mini-self-help book and study guide!  If you already have The Lake, you can get a free copy of Start a Conversation with StoryThe Lake is also now available in e-book format.  Along with those, you can get another free book, Little Red Dress, which is an adult fairy tale.  I urge all of my readers to go to Doug's Site and check these out. 

Most importantly:

Thank you, Doug, for taking the time to listen to us readers and reviewers!  It means a lot that authors are still willing to not only listen to what we have to say, but also act on it.

Thank you to all the reviewers out there!  It's an important job that's shaping the literary world, whether any of us realize it or not.

Keep reading, everyone!!!

The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson

Canyon Eliot, Colorado rancher and ex-OSS WWII agent is brought back into action by a CIA friend to do a simple investigation in Munich. As Canyon says “nothing the CIA does is simple”. he finds himself tangled in a web of twisted convoluted intrigue with both the Israeli mossad and the Russian KGB that requires him to use every bit of cunning and improvisation, physical and mental, he learned in the war. (Taken from the front of the book)

Picking up this book, I was expecting it to take me forever to read. It’s relatively thick with small print. I breezed right through it, however. The writing is so fast-paced and exciting that you get lost in the story and find yourself halfway through before you’ve even blinked. I’m not a follower of most spy novels or movies, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be bored or not. The characters are so well-crafted that I enjoyed every moment with them. Their brilliant deduction skills, wit and thirst for adventure kept me guessing at their every turn. The fact that each spy is infused with personal problems and a past only added to the enjoyment for me. Although the direction of the main plot was pretty simple to figure out, the individual actions of each character kept me guessing throughout the book.

Since I haven’t read many spy novels, I really don’t have much to compare this book to. While discussing it with a few friends they suggested it was similar to James Bond. For myself, I found myself identifying with the Bourne series by Robert Ludlum. They have a similar tone and quality with similar plot twists. You just don’t expect what’s coming next from page to page, although you already know how it’s going to end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It isn’t my normal reading fare, but it may be a turning point for me. I found it similar to a mystery, but I liked that it kept me guessing throughout. After you read so many mystery stories you get to the point where it becomes difficult to be surprised by the ending. This way, I wasn’t surprised by the ending, but the entire book constantly surprised me.

The author, Mozelle Groner Richardson, and her husband currently reside in New Mexico. Other books written by Mozelle include: Curse of Kalispoint, Portrait of Fear, Masks of Thespis, A Candle in the Wind, Song of India, Daughter of the Sacred Mountain, The Thyssen Affair, Dear Daddy Never Let Mother Travel Alone and Six Days From Sunday.

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All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.