Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Chapter Book Reviews

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Books
I do not have any wee folk around anymore nor did I ever have any wee girls about the house but that did not stop me from holding throughout my life a love of all things related to Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island.  A hold over from my girlhood, I am thrilled to know that the red headed heroine we loved as girls continues to be introduced to successive generations of girls through some beautiful books and television programming.

Green Gables in Anne Arrives
Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits are a retelling of the traditional Anne of Green Gables story for early readers in an easy chapter book format that have been adapted by Canadian author Kallie George. Kallie, that is, with an e. Anne Arrives was released in 2018 and Anne's Kindred Spirits will be released in 2019.

The first story introduces the young reader to Anne Shirley and sets her down at Green Gables where we all know that she belongs. She settles in, that is, after a rough start when they find out she is a girl and not a boy and after she has a run in with the neighbor, Mrs. Lynde.

The second story introduces Anne and the reader to her bosom buddy, Diana. In this book, Anne enjoys a community picnic, which is her first, although that outing is jeopardized when Marilla's prized brooch goes missing.

Author Kallie George has written a number of other books for children including a picture book about Anne Shirley called Goodnight, Anne. Kallie says that she believes that she and Anne Shirley are kindred spirits!

Anne Shirley in Anne Arrives

The illustrator Abigail Halpin says that she was gifted with a copy of the original book when she was a teenager and that that book still holds a special place on her book shelf.  The illustrations in Anne Arrives, she says, were "influenced by her memories of one of the most beautiful, magical spots on the planet, Prince Edward Island." Her illustrations were crafted using a combination of traditional and digital media.

Both of these books were written with children aged 6 to 8 or in grades 1 through 3 in mind. However, if you child is not quite ready to read these books on her own, you could certainly read them to her. Although intended for children, they are suitable for any one who loves Anne.

I think that this book is wonderful, sharing as it does a simple version of the classic story with the accompaniment of some charming illustrations. My favorite picture might be the two page spread that shows Green Gables in the distance, shown above.  It sets the scene in my head, for sure.

As you can tell, yes, this book is RECOMMENDED by me. I think it is lovely but I am biased toward anything from Anne's world.  However, Kirkus Reviews calls Anne Arrives, "A dream of an adaptation that is an unabashed love letter to the series that inspired it." In my mind that is high praise indeed.

I think that either book would make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves Anne but it would be especially appropriate for any young girl who is learning or will soon be learning to read. If you want to expose your children to Anne's world, you can never start to young!

You can find both books on Amazon by clicking here.  If you are looking to put a great gift set together, you might consider bundling one of these books with one of the beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas found on this page.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits on Amazon.
Find a page full of beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas.


Anne Arrives by Kallie George

Anne's Kindred Spirits by Kallie George






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wired by Julie Garwood – Book Review



Wired by Julie Garwood
Author Julie Garwood is well known for her romantic suspense novels, particularly those featuring her continuing and recurring characters in the Buchanan family. Her latest in the series is Wired where a beautiful computer hacker (Allison Trent) has to collaborate reluctantly with a sexy hotshot FBI agent (Liam Scott).


Synosis 


Allison has a brilliant mind for computers.  She loves to write code and has secretly been known to 'hack' into computers.  Before you condemn her for this behavior, you have to realize that she has only done it occasionally to help others who have been cheated by unscrupulous scammers and to 'right the wrong'. 


Source: Pixabay
FBI agent Liam Scott has discovered a serious problem ~ a deep leak within his own department leaking information about ongoing investigations. He needs a top-notch hacker unknown in his field to secretly break into the FBI computers and find the traitor. 

Allison is friends with Jordan (Buchanan) Clayborne, a genius in the technology field, whose husband and brother are both FBI agents and friends with Liam. With Jordan's help, Liam arranges to meet Allison and asks her to take on the job.  There is only one problem – Allison wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down.

Liam doesn't know that Allison is hiding her hacking secrets that she doesn't want the FBI to uncover.  She knows what she has done would be considered illegal by the FBI, even though she never benefited from her hacking and only helped others. 

How Allison's refusal to help is resolved, how she discovers the traitor and how romance blooms between her and Liam make for a very delightful story. 


Author Julie Garwood



Author Julie Garwood
Julie Garwood was born in Kansas City and today lives in Leawood, Kansas. She married young and had three children. Julie was always interested in writing, but waited until her youngest child was in school before she began writing full time.  She has written many best-selling novels.  

One of her most popular novels, FOR THE ROSES, was adapted for a HALLMARK HALL OF FAME production. 

Ms. Garwood has written 27 novels of romance since 1985, either in the historical fiction field or that of suspense.  Her suspense novels usually involve one or more FBI agents.  In each of  her books you will find a recurring theme based on family, loyalty and honor. Her romantic scenes are done in good taste. Her humor and poignancy keep readers coming back for more. 

Julie states her goals as:


“I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterwards to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.” 


More Romantic Suspense by Garwood



Pixabay

Wired is Julie Garwood's most recent book (published 2017) involving one or more of the Buchanan family.  The family consists of the mom & dad (who is a judge), six brothers and two sisters, all of whom are involved in either the technology field or law enforcement, most particularly the FBI. I've always enjoyed reading series with continuing characters and Garwood's books are among my favorites. 

So, if you read and enjoy Wired, be sure and seek out some of the other Julie Garwood stories involving the Buchanan family


For more book reviews, check out the list at:
ReviewThisBooks.com


(c) Wednesday Elf, November 24, 2018








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dietland Book Review (2015)

Dietland Book Review (2015)Dietland by Sarai Walker is not a diet book. It is not a
non-fiction book. It is a fictional story about a woman who is waiting to lose weight before she begins living her life. She is not really living yet. She won't start until she is thin and can enjoy all that she thinks comes with being thin including beautiful and confident. She is saving for weight loss surgery. She is hoarding clothes that she buys online for her future self.

Plum Kettle winds up sidetracked by a group of women who have decided to make their own way and ignore the rules of society. In meeting these women, she learns about the costs of being beautiful. This book is easy to read but not lighthearted though it is definitely funny at times. It is an interesting read that takes a look at the weight loss industry, the beauty industry and even gender inequality.

Be forewarned that it has entire sections that are pornographic. The consensus of my book club was that the book could have covered that area of our society without actually being pornographic. Because of this content, many in my book club would not recommend this book to friends and family, which is a shame because I think that it is a good story.

Watch this video review of the book. I love it. It is very short but gives you a much better idea than I can in writing of what this book is about and of the spirit found within the pages of Dietland.

 

As cosproduction says in the video, this book is a work of fiction. Despite the title, it is not a self-help book, not a memoir and not a weight-loss guide. It is a book about “a group of kick ass women taking on society’s view of beauty.”

In 2015, this book was on Amazon's Top 100 Editors' Pick of the Year list, was one of Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015, was a New York Post Best Novel to Read This Summer book and an, O, The Oprah Magazine 10 Titles to Pick Up Now book. Is it RECOMMENDED by me? Yes, with the caution mentioned above. If you can get beyond that content, I recommend you give Dietland a try. Or not. Your choice but if you do read it be sure to come back and let us all know what you thought. Guaranteed, this book will give you something to think about. You can find Dietland here on Amazon in book, audiobook and Kindle formats.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Dietland on Amazon.
Read about Dietland, Season 1, on Amazon.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Favorite Christmas Pop Up Books By Robert Sabuda

Pop Up books always bring a smile to my face! My favorite pop up book creator is Robert Sabuda. I was first introduced to Robert Sabuda when moonlighting at Borders Books (ah, I remember it well, we miss you Borders!). His pop up books bring the Christmas classics to life and are a must on the Christmas list for all ages!
Robert Sabuda pop up reindeer.

Christmas Pop Up Books By Robert Sabuda


 My first Christmas pop up book was The 12 Days Of Christmas! One of the special treats in the pop up books are the extra pop ups intertwined in the story. Loved finding a reindeer in my 12 Days Of Christmas !
The 12 Days Of Christmas

The Christmas pop up books by Sabuda cover the Christmas and winter classics like no other and are a wonderful addition to your library. These books will be a permanent addition to your library.


  • The 12 Days Of Christmas
  • The Night Before Christmas
  • The Christmas Story
  • Christmas Alphabet
  • Winter In White
  • Winter's Tale
  • Cookie Count
  • Believe




Who Is Robert Sabuda?


Robert Sabuda is the author, creator and renowned paper engineer who creates intricate pop up books for kids. The books are unique, whimsical and visually stunning. His artistic career spans many mediums with a specialty in 3-D paper engineering which uses to transform children's stories into stunning pop up books.

Find out more about Robert Sabuda in the video > (in his own words.) It is fascinating to hear the authors' view of his craft.

How To Make Pop Up's?


Feeling crafty? Robert Sabuda's website offers step by step tutorials on how to make your own pop up! The tutorials are organized by category and skill level plus provide pdf templates, instructional slideshows and motivation to DIY a pop up. My next DIY is the Pop Up Lion and Reindeer for the holidays.

Christmas Pop Up Books For All Ages


What I love about the Robert Sabuda collection of Christmas books is the appeal to all ages. If a book lover is on your Christmas list I guarantee delight when a Sabuda pop up book is received. Half the fun of giving a popup book is watching the facial expressions as the pages are turned and each page brings spectacular artistry mixed with the classic stories of Christmas.

More Robert Sabuda Pop Up Books


Classic children stories and topics are also artistically created by Sabuda and a wonderful gift for any occasion. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, Beauty And The Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Movable Mother Goose and Cookie Count are among my favorites. Dinosaur fans will love -  absolutely love the Dinosaur book.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Weird Sisters Book Review

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, A Book Review


Most of us are aware of at least some of the personality traits that come with birth order. The oldest often assumes more responsibility as a child, the middle often feels like they need more attention, the youngest often seems to be more doted upon. The Weird Sisters embraces, among other topics, the topic of birth order as it shares the life of three sisters in small town Barnwell, Ohio.

Eleanor Brown’s first novel's title does not reference weird as you and I might think when we first see the book. As a matter of fact, the sisters are not weird at all.  Brown’s meaning is as in wyrd from old English. Fate or fated. Destined, which sort of suits the book given the presence of William Shakespeare’s books throughout the story line though that difference was not obvious to me when I picked up the book.

The oldest sister in the trio is the stereotypical eldest sibling. She is a reliable, predictable woman who held a caretaker role over her sisters when they were all children and, though now a successful math professor, never left their hometown and never gave up her role as family caretaker.

The middle sister is a woman who wants to impress, throwing herself into everything she does with gusto in an attempt to stand out and be noticed. Sound familiar? She has a successful career in New York City but is fast-living and promiscuous and, underneath all of her expensive veneer, is ashamed of who she has become. Her failed attempts to maintain her lifestyle has her packing her designer goods and heading for home.

The youngest sister, the stereotypical spoiled younger sibling, is a real vagabond. She floats from experience to experience, town to town, job to job and cannot figure out what she wants to do with her life. Events in her world have her grabbing her backpack and heading for home, too.

Their father is a famed Shakespearean professor who cannot keep his head out of a book for a minute and their mom is equally obsessed with and distracted by books. Growing up, the family did not own a television. Instead, reading was their source of entertainment. Everyone in the family embraced the love of books and became avid readers though as adults some of them did not want the world to know that fact. Brown’s interwoven references to and quotes from William Shakespeare are interesting but will not in any way take away from your enjoyment of this book if you are not a fan of his writings.

Coincidentally, the sisters return home at a time when their mother is suffering through a cancer diagnosis and the resultant treatments. While helping to look after her, there is a whole lot of learning and growth done by all three. They learn who they are and who they want to be as well as to trust in themselves and in each other. You will have to read the book if you want to find out whether or not they stay at home or pursue lives outside of Barnwell.

Obviously, one of the strong themes in this book is that of birth order. The New York Times says the book seems drawn from a Sociology of the Family textbook, which made me smile because yes, I thought that when I was reading the book. It does include some of the stereotypes of birth order. Other themes include coming of age, boomerang children, family conflict and love.

There is no violence and minimal foul language in this book. There is however, sex and adultery as well as drug and alcohol use though I believe that they are presented in a manner that is not offensive. They are an important part of the story of these women who are trying to find themselves.

The Weird Sisters is an entertaining novel and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. It is my first book by Eleanor Brown, a New York Times, national and international bestselling author and it will not be my last. You can buy your copy or read more about it on Amazon by clicking right here.

Be sure to let us know if you have read it or if you will be reading it and, of course, what you thought of it.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Weird Sisters on Amazon.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I'll Push You - Book Review

Every once in a while, if we are fortunate, we are given a glimpse into a relationship of such incredible beauty that we are instantly inspired to be more, to do more, and to love more than we ever have before.  To read I'll Push You, is to witness the ultimate expression of brotherly love and devotion.  It is the opportunity to enter into a pilgrimage of the heart.

There are volumes of travelogues written by those who have embarked on such ancient walks as the Camino de Santiago.  The thing that sets this story apart, along with Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray's extremely rare lifelong friendship, is the fact that this trek was supposed to be impossible for them to accomplish.  Few believed they could actually pull it off.  Of course, those naysayers did not comprehend the enormous overcoming power of Justin and Patrick's friendship, of their faith, and of their spirits.

Born just 36 hours apart, Skeez and Paddy, as they affectionately called one another, never really knew life apart from one another.  They were classmates throughout their schooling, were best man in each other's wedding, and only became closer when Justin was diagnosed with a debilitating neuromuscular condition similar to ALS.  When Justin lost his capacity to walk, and to use his arms and legs, Patrick did not hesitate to step in to help Justin's wife care for his every need.

Not one to wave a white flag and give up in defeat, though he would have been justified in feeling more than a little bit of hopelessness, Justin sought to find ways to continue to live life with gusto.  When he learned about the Camino in Spain (The Way), Skeez asked Paddy if they might attempt it. Without losing a beat, Patrick replied: I'll push you.  At the time, neither Justin nor Patrick knew just exactly what it was they had agreed to do.  All too soon, they would begin the most arduous journey of their lives.

How do you cross the Pyrenees, and other mountain ranges, make it through the Mesita desert, and ford through raging rivers in a wheelchair?  What do you do when the pathway becomes a steep, boulder-strewn bowling alley, or an impassable quagmire of deep mud?  These became the daily challenges that had stopped even the most robust pilgrims along the way.  With the help and kindness of strangers, Justin and Patrick are drawn into the pilgrimage within the pilgrimage.  What began as a travel adventure, becomes a deeply transformational journey of self-reflection.

Over the course of 500 miles, Skeez and Paddy explore what it means to love, to serve, to trust, and to grow in grace.  To take the journey with them is a blessing, a privilege, and the chance to ponder how we might be the love that turns the impossible into the possible.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review
I do it too often. That is, pick up a book without a true appreciate of what I am about to read. Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss definitely fits that bill. I picked it up because it was written by a wonderful Canadian music artist and because my mother is experiencing some memory issues right now.

Feeding My Mother turned out to be a series of diary or journal-style entries written over a period of a few years while Arden tried to continue working in the music industry and care for her ailing parents. What I expected was information about memory loss; what I did not expect was the diary style of writing or the recipes. I did expect and receive heartbreak, which is definitely on the menu when a loved one disappears in this manner. It is not really a book to turn to for information about Alzheimer's disease but rather one to read to understand one family's struggles to deal with their situation.

It is a nicely put together book with pictures; caring and sharing; family, pets and lots of love; tears but also much laughter; and with a few simple recipes, some of which I may return to. This book was crafted from (apparently) popular Facebook and Instagram posts that Arden wrote during her journey. I believe that she handled her parental situation as best as she could, something we can all aspire to do if and when we become caregivers for our parents. As Arden says, it is not easy becoming a mother to your mother.

Jann Arden


Arden is an accomplished Canadian singer songwriter who has won eight Juno awards and been nominated for a total of eighteen. She has also written three books. This one plus If I Knew, Don't You Think I'd Tell You and Falling Backwards: A Memoir. Another couple of books for our reading lists.

You can hear Arden discuss Feeding My Mother on CBC Radio by clicking right here. They call the book a cookbook, which I disagree with though it does have a few recipes. If you picked this book up thinking it was a cookbook, you would be disappointed. It is more correctly categorized as a biographical book about Alzheimer's disease and patient care.

Do I Recommend Feeding My Mother? 


Yes, I do recommend Feeding My Mother. It is definitely of interest to someone who is dealing with a family member with memory loss or who sees that coming in the future, as I do. However, I am uncertain if it is a book that my mother should read. I know she would appreciate the humour and the love that is found within the covers but not sure that she needs to really think and worry about all of the situations found in this book. What do you think? Should I give my mother this book to read or not?  Have you read Feeding My Mother? Have you been a caregiver for someone with memory loss?

You can get your hands on a copy of Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother by ordering it from Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of Feeding My Mother from Amazon.










Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Circling the Sun Paula McLain Book Review

Circling the Sun Paula McLain Book Review
Another trip! This time my armchair travels took me to colonial Kenya, Africa via Paula McLain's historical biography Circling the Sun. Set in the 1920s, it is totally engaging, a fictional account of the real Beryl Markham's life. Beryl lived in what is now known as settler-era Africa. She was definitely a woman before her time and her story is very interesting. 

It starts in England but is mostly set in Kenya where Beryl's mother abandons her with her father. Beryl embraces the local African culture and in the long run becomes a record-setting aviator. That is, after a a life spent conquering the male-dominated equestrian world and loving a man she could never have.

Do I Recommend Circling the Sun?


I do. I highly recommend Circling the Sun if you enjoy historical fiction and are intrigued with the idea of visiting Africa. This book sheds light on the life of a woman and a country that we have not heard much about.
I thought it was an enjoyable read but New York Times' writer Alexandra Fuller found it a bit fluffy. However, in her review she agrees that "the settlers who used Kenya as their hapless playground did so at catastrophic expense to those who called Kenya home long before the whites arrived." It is an interesting peek into the history of Africa.

As Julie McDowall said when she reviewed the book for the Independent, it it is filled with "vigorous, swift, and spangled with spectacular imagery." I came away wanting to visit Africa though of course I wanted to visit that country before I read this book. I also agree with McDowall when she said the story quickens near the end and that not enough time is spent on the one thing Beryl is famed for, her flying. If you want to read this book for the aviation, prepare to be disappointed.

The Boston Globe said, "McLain will keep you from eating, sleeping, or checking your e-mail — though you might put these pages down just long enough to order airplane tickets to Nairobi."  Exactly.

Circling the Sun follows Paula McLain's hugely successful novel The Paris Wife, which I can also highly recommend. That book is set in jazz age Paris and follows the life of Ernest Hemingway and his second wife.

Are you intrigued by the idea of visiting Africa? Will you visit via McLain's book? You can find Circling the Sun on Amazon by following this link.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Circling the Sun on Amazon.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Reviewing The Magic by Rhonda Byrne

The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, a review
Photo by Louanne Cox
I must be one of the few people in the world who hasn't read Rhonda Byrne's bestseller The Secret, I did get it out of the library a few years back, but I just couldn't get into it and I had some juicy whodunnits to read instead!

I have been told that books come into your life at just the right time and I think that this is true with The Magic.

The basis of this book is showing gratitude which is the basis of most spiritual teachings from Christianity to Buddhism.   Whatever your belief system this book is a great way of teaching you how to practice gratitude in your life.

I like the book because it's short chapters, each of which have an exercise for you to do and it's designed to be read one chapter a day.  I found this easy to add into my morning routine and was enjoying doing the exercises as well until I came to one chapter and just could not complete that particular exercise!

After a number of days I decided to leave that chapter and carry on with the rest and there were a few that I found I couldn't complete.   My daughter is reading the book now and I'll revisit it in a couple of months when I can hopefully complete all of the exercises.

I didn't find that the book taught me a lot that I didn't know, but by doing the exercises and really thinking about my blessings and showing my gratitude I have noticed a few things in my life have changed.

I really recommend this for everyone, personally I was finding myself becoming very negative about a situation in my life (and I hate being negative I should add, I much prefer the positive side of myself) and I credit this book with helping me 'find' my positive side again.   I also made an achievement in my work life which I think was directly connected to one of the exercises in the book.

Have you read The Magic?


I'd be interested to know if you've read The Magic and/or The Secret.  I think once I've finished a couple of the books on my list I might try and read The Secret again and see if I get past the first few pages!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Michael Crichton's TRAVELS, A Book Review (1988)

Michael Crichton's TRAVELS Book ReviewI have just returned from a trip around the world. A few of the more exotic countries that I visited were Thailand, Maylaysia, Bonaire, Ireland, England, Tanzania, Jamaica, New Guinea and Pakistan. On these travels, I climbed mountains, swam in the seas and slept with fleas. I mingled with elephants, felt the breath of gorillas on my face and swam among the sharks. I travelled off the beaten path and in some very rough conditions.

This trip was another armchair travels trip that I took via Michael Crichton's nonfiction book, Travels. It was a book club book that I recommended to the group. Fortunately, most of the group enjoyed the book more than I did.

I did enjoy parts of the book though I expected something different than I received from within the pages of the covers. It turned out that the title Travels was a little more general than I took it to be. It was meant to encompass Crichton's life adventures, which included literal travel but also spiritual adventures and medical training.

eNotes.com called Travels a "patchwork of pieces salvaged from a writer’s bottom drawer" and that is certainly how I felt about the book and why I was not keen on it. It does a good job of sharing Crichton's experiences individually but I would have appreciated it more if it had flowed as a single story rather than a series of short stories. In terms of writings, I suppose one might consider it a journal or diary of sorts.

On Crichton's website, it says that the book started as a series of travel pieces though he never intended to write about his travels thinking of them as just "something he did for himself that wasn’t work-related and wasn’t supposed to amount to anything." I understand how an author would not always want to chronicle everything in his life. Anyway, when Crichton discovered that some of his most important experiences happened on his trips this book was born and, when the book became autobiographical, he added the medical stories.

I am sure you have heard of Michael Crichton. He was a very successful novelist, screenwriter and film director. It is interesting that he wrote and sold books while he was studying to become a medical doctor though perhaps odd that he made it through the entire training program before he decided he did not actually want to be a doctor. In his 66 years, he wrote eleven books and more than 200 million copies of them have been sold in the science fiction, thriller and medical genres. In 1994, he had an unbelievable trifecta that included a number one movie, a book and a television show. Namely, Jurassic Park, Disclosure and ER. I am sure you will have heard of a couple of those, too.

Do I recommend Travels?

I guess so, reservedly. I would not recommend this book to someone looking for a page turner or an engaging novel. This book is as I have said before, a group of stories.

If you like to travel, you might enjoy the unusual destinations in this book whether or not you would choose them yourself. If you do not travel, you might enjoy visiting these places via the pages of a book.

Whether or not you believe in psychic phenomenons like aura reading, spoon bending, out-of-body trips and exorcism, you might enjoy learning about them and the various experiences Crichton had in the metaphysical world.

If you are interested in the human body or in being a medical doctor, you might appreciate the first chapters more than I did. If you red the book, you will discover how medical students are assigned cadavers and what follows.

But do not let my lukewarm recommendation be the deciding factor about whether or not you read this book for I have read many reviews by people who really enjoyed it and the majority of my book club members found Crichton's adventures interesting.

Reviewer Patricia Bosworth said in a 1988 New York Times book review, "I was ultimately swept away (by this book), not just by Crichton's richly informed mind, but his driving curiosity. Satisfying your curiosity takes guts."

Shangri-La anyone? The Shangri-La Michael Crichton visited is not the one you might have in your mind's eye. I thought of Shangri-La as an earthly paradise of sorts. Apparently the version I was picturing comes from a 1933 book called Lost Horizon. The real Shangri-La, as experienced in Travels, is quite different from that pleasant image in my mind and a good example of the unusual destinations in this book.

You can learn more about Michael Crichton's Travels on Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read the book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think of it. You might also let us know what your perception of Shangri-La was before you read this post.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Travels from amazon.
More armchair travel book reviews.
Travel with these movies.








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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

First Magyc Guardians of the Path Book Reviewed

The Fight Against Good and Evil

The Magic of Music image courtesy of Pixabay.com
I would like to introduce you to a fantasy fiction series today. First Magyc is book one in the Guardians of the Path series written by Nicole Dragonbeck. A short summation would be the plot involves the age old battle between good and evil. That would be factual but doesn't come anywhere close to giving you insight as to whether you will enjoy the first book in the series or not. 

Let me start out with explaining a little of my reaction to reading First Magyc. I feel like I have to tell you that not very far into this first book, I almost stopped reading it. This is a very unusual feeling for me to experience when reading any book. It is rare that I give up on a story of any kind. Suffice it to say, I didn't put the book down. There was something in my mind that niggled at me, telling me to continue with the story. I am glad that I did. I guess what I am trying to say is you might feel the same when you begin this book but I encourage you to keep reading. I don't think you will be disappointed. I wasn't. In fact, the story took on a spiritual significance for me.


The story begins with Ria, a twelve year old girl that I immediately related to and I think many people will. She is a troubled child; slightly broken after the loss of her mother. Her father and step-mother fight a lot. Those fights are usually about her which makes them even harder for her to listen to and cope with. Her escape is to lose herself in music. Her Ipod and earbuds drown out the angry words and sounds of the arguments most of the time. On this particular day, the fight is intense enough that she feels she needs to sneak out of the apartment to get further away from the words of battle that are being spewed by her parents.

Sitting in a grungy corner away from the other apartment doors, Ria hears a song in her head that she has never heard before and it is not one that she has on her playlist. As she concentrates on this song, a door appears where a door never was. She has a strong feeling that she should open that door even though her twelve year old mind knows that is not a safe or wise action to take. When the door opens she meets Cedar who doesn't look like anyone she has ever seen before. There are colors around him and the room that he is in that intrigue her. She knows that she should turn around and leave but yet she feels that she needs to stay. Cedar explains to her that he has been trapped in this world between worlds for a long time and that he thinks that she may be able to help him get back to his world; a place that he desperately needs to be. Cedar has to use First Magyc or Blood Magyc in order to return. (This is where I got disturbed enough that I almost quit reading. All I will say is, keep reading the book!)

So, it turns out that Cedar is one of a handful of Guardians who have been given the task of protecting the Path which is the force of life itself. Cedar and other Guardians have been battling Demons who appear from the Void trying to destroy the Path and the humans who follow it for centuries. Life has become chaotic in Cedar's world; the Path is fading to almost non-existence and the Music of Life is vanishing. Of course, Ria does not understand any of this when she arrives but she knows that somehow she wants to help.

Cedar is surprised to find out that Ria has some abilities that he was not aware of when they first met and this gives him hope but also concerns him greatly. A Demon appears to do battle with Cedar and after injuring the Guardian the Demon calls Ria by a name that she doesn't know anything about but Cedar does. Is this girl who opened the door and helped him get back the very one from the ancient prophecy?

OK, so if you have read any of my other reviews you know that I don't like to give away much of a story line. So, I am recommending that if you want to know more about the Guardians, the Demons, and Ria you need to read this book and the ones that follow.

Here is what I love about the book and I did end up loving the book! For me this is a story about our spiritual journey in life which can and really should be a magical journey through life. Isn't our faith, no matter what name it might be called, a path that we walk on? We don't see the path, we feel it. We know when we have made a wrong turn on our journey and need to get back to the warmth and glow of the path we are supposed to be on. Sometimes that means we have to slay some emotional or physical demons to get back to where we are should be. The walk isn't always easy especially if there are no spirits, angels or guardians protecting the direction we are headed.

There is also the connection between walking our journey through life and music. I love that the author more than hints at that connection! Music is spiritual and it doesn't have to be music in a religious setting to touch your soul. Actually, most times it isn't the music you hear or sing while at church that touches your soul. Is it? Certainly there are songs of a religious nature that move me and I am sure you, too. In our lives there are songs that we hear that help us get through a rough time, make us smile, bring us joy, or make our feet move. Music is emotional, it is spiritual, it is magical, life without it would be like being in a void of nothingness.

Bottom line, I love the first book in the series. I think many of you might also enjoy it. Perhaps, the message that the author hoped to convey is very different from what I came away with. Perhaps you will have a different take away, altogether. My overall reaction is that it touched my soul and that doesn't happen often when reading a book of fiction. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Wilderness Series Reviewed

Stories of Fantasy, Time Travel and American Indians

Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull image (public domain)
I have discovered another series to share with you. The group of books are called The Wilderness Series and are written by Pamela Ackerson. Let me just say that I am in awe of her imagination and her combining several genres to make an intriguing (at least for me) set of stories to read. 

You will find that there are several areas of interest that will appeal to a variety of readers. The books are listed in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and fit the Fantasy section of interest. Added to that is the element of time travel and Ms. Ackerson has created a unique way for that travel to occur! She has added an element of history in the traveling in time, most specifically back to the late 1800s. She has also created an amazing love story as a part of the books. 

I mentioned the time travel and that is what piqued my interest to read the first book in the series. Dr. Karen Anderson dreams of being in the land occupied by the Lakota Sioux. She is certain that she is dreaming and is fascinated by the detail in her dream. She encounters a Lakota warrior named Standing Deer and feels a very strong attraction. After waking up from what she assumed was a dream, she talks to a friend about her dream and how vivid it was. The two women figure out after a couple of these vivid dreams that they are not dreams at all and that she is actually traveling back in time. 

Her travels begin at a time when Sitting Bull was a young man and Crazy Horse isn't much more than a boy. If you know your history, you might figure out that she is traveling back to the time in history that is the beginning of the end for the great Sioux Nation. Some of you reading this, who know me well, will understand why this specific time in history would grab my attention.  For those of you who don't know me, I have a strong connection to the Sioux and specifically the Lakota. For many years I have supported efforts to help the Lakota at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Anyway, that is why I decided to read the first book and have continued to read them. 

I applaud Pamela Ackerson for her research in the events during this time in history. She has done an excellent job of portraying the Sioux as they really are and were. There is no sugar coating the facts and she does a good job of explaining what happened. 

I mentioned a love story a little earlier. This caused a bit of a struggle for me. Although, I love the concept of two souls meant to be together and the intensity of that love; I could do with a little less description of the physical part of that love. It is just racier than I like to read. It isn't too horrible but I did blush a couple of times. So, I am warning you that the love scenes are not subtle. The thing is these stories would survive quite well without the explicit wording. In other words, I personally don't think those scenes need to be in the books. A more understated scene would have worked just as well. That is really my only complaint with the books.

Even with the love scenes that I could do without, I still love this series. The history involved pulls me in far enough that I can overlook the love scenes. The books are well written and the stories are fascinating. If you like a good fantasy book and enjoy the idea of time travel, I think you will like this Wilderness Series, too. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Paths of Glory Book Review

Jeffrey Archer Paths of Glory Book Review
My first Jeffrey Archer novel, Paths of Glory, came highly recommended recently by my husband.  I asked him for a good book to read and he presented me with five or six choices from his own collection and this is the one that I chose. 

Interestingly, this book recommendation came as I was working my way through my next book club assignment, Travels by Michael Crichton, which also includes a great deal of adventure travel and mountain climbing. Unfortunately, I was struggling with Travels, which though interesting is less of a novel and more of a series of short stories, so I set it aside and picked up Paths of Glory.

Paths of Glory turned out to be a real page turner. Set in the early 1900s in England and on various mountains, it details the life of George Mallory who was born to climb. From the youngest age, he climbed everything that he possibly could including a few things that he should not and it was also at a young age that he set his sights on conquering Mount Everest, an obsession that he lived with throughout his life and that eventually would cost him his life.

The story is a novel but is based on the true story of Mallory's life and his two loves, his wife Ruth and Mount Everest. A period drama, it is interesting and intriguing and of interest to even those of us who have no aspirations to climb a mountain.

George Mallory was a smart student though perhaps not studious. He studied history, served in World War 1 and eventually became a school teacher though he never gave up his obsession with mountain climbing. He was born in 1886 and lived until 1924 when he perished on Mount Everest.  It is still unclear whether he actually accomplished his goal and made it to the top and therefore, whether it is he or Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to conquer Mount Everest. According to Wikipedia, this book was  or is somewhat controversial because of the fact that it challenges who conquered Mount Everest first and because of some factual errors.

Here's a short video clip of author Jeffrey Archer discussing the book:


I believe that Paths of Glory is a great read for anyone who likes a well done adventure story. A mystery story. A period drama. For world travellers who like adventure or for armchair travellers, who just like to read of adventures set in other parts of the world.

Yes, Paths of Glory is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.  You can order your copy of the book in various formats from Amazon here.  I think the book begs to be made into a movie. However, according to Life Spectator, this book was being turned into a movie until another movie called Everest emerged and this one was shelved.

Have you read Paths of Glory? Are you interested? Would you like to climb a mountain or maybe you already have?

See you at the 
top of the mountain!
(Well, maybe not but
definitely at the book store.)

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of Paths of Glory from Amazon.








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Secret Child Book Review

Secret Child Book Review
Secret Child (2015) is a true story from a time when individuals of different religious backgrounds could fall in love but not easily marry and where children born out of wedlock were considered unwanted and considered 'the unfortunates.'  Most women who found themselves pregnant and unmarried in 1950s Dublin, Ireland were unable to keep their children.

Secret Child tells the story of Cathleen, a woman who found a forbidden love and lost it because of the divide between the Protestant and Catholic religions and then found herself pregnant. She was one of the fortunate few to stumble across Regina Coeli, which may have been the only home for unwed mothers in Dublin at that time.

The author does not know how his mother came to find this facility but it was definitely because of the Regina Coeli that his mother, Cathleen, managed to keep her son and hide him away from her family and the rest of the world until he was eight years old. This accomplishment of course was only done with great hardship when she worked long hours and left her young son in the care of a reclusive caregiver at the facility.

Some may have called these children the unfortunates but the children did not see themselves in that light and Gordon, according to Mail Online, considered the hostel paradise. It was, after all, his childhood home where he lived until the age of 8 when his mother eventually reunites with and marries her original love. As a family, they move to London, England and this move perhaps improves their life slightly but also brings with it a host of other challenges, which includes leaving Gordon's Regina Coeli family behind.

This book gives a glimpse into life in the 1950s in Dublin and the early 1960s in London. It is told from the point of view of the child, Gordon Lewis, and written with the assistance of ghostwriter Andrew Crofts. In the book, Gordon returns to Ireland as an adult to uncover the story of his childhood home, which was a happy place in his eyes, and to learn the story of his mother's prior life, which was unknown to him. His cousin asks why he wants to dig up that old history and advises him to let it be. For Gordon, however, it was important to put the story together and understand both his family background and his mother's story.

I recommend Secret Child for those wanting an interesting look into those times in Ireland and a serious subject matter though the book is not a difficult book to read.  Though this story took place in Ireland, we all know that such religious divides existed elsewhere and that unwed mothers faced similar situations in many different parts of the world.

If you are interested, you can read more about the book or order your copy of Secret Child from Amazon by clicking right here.

IMDB says this story is being created as a short film called The Bridge by the author and due for release in 2018.

See you
at the bookstore!

More Ireland:

Order your copy of Secret Child on Amazon.
Visit 1980s Ireland via my My Fifty Dead Men Walking movie review.
Visit Ireland in 1916 my Michael Collins movie review.
















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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dan Brown ORIGIN Book Review

I was intrigued when I read in Dan Brown’s newest book Origin that the book includes only “Art, architecture, locations, science and religious organisations that are real.” I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the heart of Italy with Dan Brown in Inferno and then with my husband in real life and one day I hope to visit Brown’s Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville in person after having enjoyed my visit with him in this novel.

I’m not quite sure why I picked up Origin but it was at least in part because of the memories and discussions that my entire family had after we all read the first two books in the series, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I know that not all of the books in the series were quite as well received by my family and I have to admit to wondering how many times poor Robert Langdon could be called out to save the day.

Well, as it turns out, at least one more time. In this, the latest book, we are armchair travellers to Spain where Langdon is solving a murder mystery and focuses on the origin of man. It involves the art work, symbols, architecture, locations and religions of Spain. This time, the debate includes some interesting familiar and unfamiliar high-level technology and even a super computer. You will find yourself wondering is that really true and find yourself thankful for Brown’s statement that everything in the book is real.

Origin is the first Dan Brown book to feature modern art since Robert Langdon is not much of a fan of that genre and it focuses on the work of Joan Miró. I recommend googling her to have a feeling for her artwork. It really is different from the masters that Langdon normally prefers.  The book also features literary references to William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche, authors whom I was not particularly knowledgeable of.

The effort required to put this book together with real details and facts is mind boggling. Apparently, Brown employs a team of fact checkers to make sure he is accurately presenting all of that history and science.

Is Origin recommended?


Yes, Origin is recommended by me. Is it highly recommended? I am undecided. I found the novel a bit heavier on religion than I care for and I can honestly say I have never thought about where I came from or where I am going to in such depth. Of course, thinking about our creation and destiny is not necessarily a bad thing.

I was, however, totally fascinated by the high-tech science in this book that includes quantum computing, artificial intelligence in the form of a thinking computer and a self-driving Tesla Model X. The conspiracy website is a nice link between our current online world and the book.

Barcelona Super Computing Center exterior

Barcelona Super Computing Center Interior
Barcelona Super Computing Center
Finally, I liked the glimpse into Spain. Yes, there is really a super computer built inside the walls of a church in Barcelona in this book and the pictures shown here are from the website of the real Barcelona Super Computer Center.

I expect that if you enjoyed Angels & Demons and the Da Vinci Code, you will likely enjoy Origin.

Origin was published on October 3, 2017 and was number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in that same month and it remains on that list in the number eight position as I write this post in February, 2018. It is also currently number 2 on Amazon’s bestseller list of the top 20 most sold and read books of the week. Is there a movie? Not yet but maybe.

The New York Times finds fault and praise for the book but concludes: ”…for all their high-minded philosophizing, these books’ geeky humor remains a big part of their appeal. Not for nothing does Kirsch’s Tesla have a license plate frame reading: “THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.” Brown continues to do everything in his playful power to ensure that will happen.”

Here's an exciting peek at Dan Brown, his books, and Origin. Warning: It will make you want to go to Spain with me.


Origin is fun. Don’t take it too seriously. You can find it here on Amazon. If you decide to read it, be sure to come back and let us know what you think. If you have already done so, have you figured out where we come from and where we are going and, more on point, would you recommend this book to your friends and family?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

ORDER OF DAN BROWN’S ROBERT LANGDON BOOKS:

Angels & Demons (2000)
The Da Vinci Code (2003)
The Lost Symbol (2009)
Inferno (2013)
Origin (2017)

QUICK LINKS:

Buy Origin on Amazon.
Check out Dan Brown's author page on Amazon.
Read my review of Inferno.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.