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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Green Anoles and Other Pet Lizards by World Book

The book gives a nice overview of anoles, but it is very vague on many parts. It talks about how to take care of an anole as a pet and what you should have prepared for them when you get one. It doesn't get into the specifics, such as the methods of providing proper nutrition to your anole or the type of tank you should hold your anole in. Overall, it is a good introduction for anyone, but if you are serious about raising an anole, a more in-depth book is needed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Amber and Blood by Margaret Weis

This book seemed rush, and it definitely shows. It is riddled with spelling mistakes, extra words, and missing words. In addition to this, there are many inconsistencies, some between this book and the previous and others in different chapters. The chapters felt disconnected, as if the author took long breaks between them. The whole book was a mess, and the ending was not very satisfying. It feels like there is so much more to learn about Mina, but many things are still left unknown (or explained vaguely) so it is not possible to care much for her.

Interested? Get a preview and buy it here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner

Just Like Other Daughters is a book about Alicia and her daughter Chloe, who has Down syndrome. It details the struggles both of them experience through many events that occur. It is hard for both of them without their father Randall, who left them to pursue other interests.

The story is told from the first-person perspective of Alicia, a mom in her fifties who is struggling through life between work and trying to raise her Down syndrome daughter by herself. It is a nice decision to have chosen this point of view; it makes things seem much more interesting. As an added bonus, sometimes the reader gets to hear things from Chloe's perspective, written the way she would talk.

It was nice to hear all of Alicia's thoughts, and it made you feel for her and the struggles she went through. Her personality did seem a little stale through further progression.

When beginning this book, dealing with Chloe's character was a very annoying experience. It was annoying enough to almost stop me from reading the rest of the book, until I realized how it had enhanced the experience instead of damaged it, like I had previously thought. You feel as if you were experiencing the same things Alicia is - annoyances, times of the laughter, and everything else.

Everything was well written, with a perfect amount of detail given. Sometimes the characters felt a little underdeveloped though. The plot was always had some interesting twists throughout, although things did seem to move rather slow.

Just Like Other Daughters may not appeal to everyone, especially to those who are not used to reading about children with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities. The book perfectly captures their essence, but may do so too well to make the book seem a little annoying. Some parts may feel a little rushed, but that does not deter the overall fact that it is an interesting read.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Great Hawk by Karl F. Hollenbach

The Great Hawk is a book about a boy named Jimmy who spends the summer with his grandparents. He becomes interested in falconry and asks his grandparents to help prepare him to learn his new hobby.

The book might seem like a simple story that a child might enjoy, but it is rather gruesome. The author has a definitive way of writing very detailed, which is definitely something that enhances the story. This means that the gruesome parts of the story are always very detailed, which may not appeal to everyone, especially children.

The book tells a short story of a child who wishes to learn a new skill, but ends up learning a lesson in return. There are many unpredictable twists throughout, even in the beginning. The story takes place in the depression era, which might not appeal to everyone. The story moves rather slow because everything is so detailed. In some chapters, it feels as if little was accomplished, probably because it leans more to detailing many conversations other books would simply skip over.

The Great Hawk is an interesting short story that has limited appeal. The detailed writing is a nice change from standard writing styles, but sometimes makes the story seem to move too slow.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bruce Edwards Words and Music Tour 2013 by Bruce Edwards

This audio book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review.

Bruce Edwards Words and Music Tour 2013 is a sample of the author, Bruce Edwards, reading excerpts from his book The Age of Amy: Bonehead Bootcamp. This audiobook was an experiment to see how reading his book would seem being read with a musical score in the background. The CD has about fifteen minutes of the reading of the beginning of the book.

The premise of this was to keep the reading of a book interesting, instead of being a droning sound (the author's voice). The music chosen is rather cliché, but sounds good. Edwards does a fair job without the music in the background, which does little to enhance the experience. It is too often executed early so that you know what will happen next. A character may finish a sentence only to have sad music play immediately afterward. From this, you know that the story is going to suddenly turn sad.

Bruce Edwards Words and Music Tour 2013 was a bold experiment that tests the boundaries of the common format of audiobooks. While the music does little to enhance the experience, perhaps it is a good enough idea to keep experimenting with.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Life Is All About Range by Jane Pastore Coleman

This book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review.

Life Is All About Range is a book about the author, Jane, who leaves city life to live with a man, Bob, she has fallen in love with. Bob lives in a totally opposite environment - he is out in the country. This book is about Jane's adventures, and how she had to get used to living her new lifestyle.

I feel this book is incorrectly labeled. On the front, it states "How to Replace Your Fears with Knowledge and Skills", and on the back, it is categorized as "Self Improvement", but this does not have these attributes.

The whole book is a personal account of the author's experiences and how she had to face her fears. It does not give the reader any advice. Is the reader supposed to derive self-improvement by reading about experiences, some of which talk about specific places in the country? Is reading about Triple Creek Ranch going to help someone face their fears? It may seem like nitpicking to criticize the subtitle, but that is what the book is supposed to be about. It should be renamed to "How to Adjust to Country Life from the City", which would definitely be more appropriate.

The book is written well, with very few errors. Sometimes historic events are talked about; these are described interestingly so they do not seem like simple boring facts. Throughout the book there are pictures, which help give a better feeling about what is being talked about.

It is interesting reading how Jane gets use to as a totally different lifestyle, as it is also unfamiliar to me. There are many things that can be learned from her experiences. It seems that although Jane has a hard time adjusting, she overall enjoys her new experiences.

Life Is All About Range is a book for someone who would like to learn more about the country lifestyle. It is not for someone who is looking for self improvement, unless they can acquire it by reading about someone's new lifestyle. It is a mildly interesting read, but make sure you are reading it for the right purpose.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dignity is a Renewable Resource by Shanna Goodman

This book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review.

Dignity is a Renewable Resource is labelled as a self-improvement book that attempts to show the reader how to face their fears by trying new things. The author does something new each month for a year in order to experience new things she has never done while facing her fears.

The book has a simple format - describe an experience and how she went to tackle it. This formula repeats for half the book, and gets old very fast. Most of these simply state "I was scared, I tried it, and it was not that bad." There is not much more beyond this simple statement to summarize each section, and not much for the reader to extract from this information. This is the main part of the book, yet it only covers half of it and feels like not enough time was spent on it.

The second half of the book is a disaster; if you thought the first part sounded lacking, this part will definitely disappoint you. The author talks about her experience leaving a company she had believed in at first, but then lost faith it. Through many pages she talks about it as if she thought you already knew about it. Throughout these pages, information is constantly repeated, with the vibe of the author stating "Yeah, I was right." many times.

After this, it seems that the author had to fill a page quota. She ends up talking about random things that do not have any relevance to the purpose of the book. The worst part by far is when she talks about Obama following her on Twitter for several pages. Remember when the book promised self-improvement? Well, you can forget that, because Obama (United States President) follows her on Twitter! Forget facing your fears and focus on getting Obama to follow you!

Dignity is a Renewable Resource is a book that simply accomplishes nothing. This idea was based off a blog, but the author should have known that a book is not a blog. You can change your posts in a blog any time you want, but you cannot change the fact that this book is a very worthless piece for anyone who is trying to get some self-improvement. If you want a cheap laugh at some poor writing, then this is the book for you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Blazing Wings [Audiobook] by L. Ron Hubbard

On Blazing Wings is another classic by L. Ron Hubbard. It takes place during World War II, where an American David is fighting for the Fins against the Russians.

This book had a good amount of action that kept things interesting. You never knew what was going to happen next, because it is not just a normal plane fighting book. There are many twists that you simply cannot predict. These twists help keep the book more interesting.

The audio book was done well. It uses several voice actors, and they know how to do their roles. Sound effects are placed correctly which help the experience.

On Blazing Wings is another good book by L. Ron Hubbard that continues to satisfy the need for action novel.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan by Michael J. Straczynski

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan consists of backstories for three of the characters in Watchmen: Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, and Moloch.

The art style of the book is very nice. Each panel has a large amount of detail and helps tell the story wonderfully.

Nite Owl's story was my favorite out of the three in this book. It details how Nite Owl (second generation) came to be, and what hardships he had to deal with in his life to become how he was. It also includes a good portion of Rorschach with many action-packed scenes. This is probably one of my favorite sections out of the series of Before Watchmen.

The second section deals with Dr. Manhattan, not really detailing his backstory since it was already shown in Watchmen, but focusing more on how his current existence correlates with quantum physics and how time is working with him. It was my least favorite, because he is my least favorite character and then way things are explained with him are just so...infuriating. The story constantly jumps around, relying on you to keep track of everything that is going on. On some pages the text is placed at different angles to correlate with the story.

Moloch is the character the third part is based off of. He is a minor character, but still gets his backstory told. It is a simple origin story explaining how things went with him up until the events in Watchmen. It was alright, and would be what you would expect for it.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan is a good book that does a great job at explaining the origins of characters before Watchmen. The biggest problem is Dr. Manhattan's story, which feels more like a "we have to include it" sort of story, rather than actually being important to the plot. Nite Owl is told wonderfully and Moloch is a simple story. Overall, it is a book worth looking at.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Living Large on Less: A Guide to Saving Without Sacrifice by Christina Spence

Living Large on Less: A Guide to Saving Without Sacrifice shows you a variety of ways to reduce the costs based off your style of living. It seems that the whole book was tailored to how the author lives and basically nothing else. Also, it suggests that in order to save money on many things you have many friends ready to exchange things such as food and other possessions.

This book could have been much shorter. It does show you briefly on how to create a budget plan and stick with it, and it does detail on the much more important expenses in one's life (such as deciding whether to rent or purchase a house or choosing a 401k or an IRA). For the rest of the book though, it gives a bunch of random tips. At the end of the book, all of these tips are listed in about six pages. This means that after you have read the whole book, you get a much briefer version of the same exact material!

This book is suggested for individuals who are trying to begin a frugal lifestyle. It does not give the best hints, and many important ones are missing.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Due North by G.M. Rogers

This book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review. 

Due North is a book that focuses on a woman named Madison who is away at college. She spends her semester with Jack, a man who she is deeply in love with. They part ways after the semester, though she is always thinking about him. She goes to her home in Iron Bay, where she meets Dane. She falls for him quickly, but keeps thinking about Jack.

A large portion of the book focuses on describing sex scenes in detail. These scenes go on for several pages each, and sometimes one scene is followed by another. This may not be a problem for someone who likes this sort of thing, but it leaves a lot to be desired for people who want to read a story with a flow that is not interrupted constantly. The result is that the characters suffer greatly from being mysterious sex-driven men and women who the reader knows little about. The book is mainly filled with beautiful women and tall, bulky, blonde, and masculine men. Although this may be a fantasy, this extreme is a little ridiculous. There is some excitement to be had between the sex scenes, but this usually lasts briefly, and can only be found near the beginning, middle, and end of the book. If it had focused a little more on character and plot development, perhaps it would have been more interesting.

The plot develops into what you would think would be the usual romance fantasy, but it certainly has a few twists. The LARGEST problem with the book is with the thought processes of certain characters. When something occurs, a person is expected to learn from that experience. In this book, it feels as if the characters have artificial intelligence; they NEVER learn from their mistakes! This seems to be forced to make the book longer in order to make room for another expected book.

The book is divided in nineteen chapters. The writing style is good, and enhances how the story eventually develops. There are quite a few grammar mistakes, along with missing words. Many of these are found during important dialogues, which hurts the experience. It seems that the book was written for the Kindle version, but was not edited for the paperback version. Along the whole book, many words are hyphenated mid-sentence (randomly skimming the book produced the example "over-whelming"), which makes you feel that the author is telling you to buy the virtual copy instead.

Due North is a nice try at a romantic fantasy, but sometimes it feels like you are reading about nothing but one's sex fantasy. If these scenes were fewer and the characters and plot had more development, it may have turned out better.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Lemon Bars of Parnassus by Lee Kisling

This book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review.

The Lemon Bars of Parnassus is an interesting book that contains poems that have comedy while being mixed with sorrow. Each poem contains an individual idea that is unique to itself and is sometimes quite witty. Some of the poems reference things that the reader may not know of, such as in "Grendel Wonders". Some of the poems do a wonderful job at using your senses, such as "Dark Chocolate".

The Lemon Bars of Parnassus is a nice collection of poems. The book contains twenty-four poems which you will have an enjoyable time reading.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Susu Pals by Richa Jha

This book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review.

The Susu Pals is a children's book about two friends that (literally) do everything together, but are separated when one of them befriends a new neighbor. They must deal with their days without the friendship of the other.

First and foremost, this book will have limited appeal based on the location it is read. Simply put, being in United States, I nor anyone I know of would read this to a child. The word "susu" means to urinate. The girls in this story match their underwear and go to the bathroom together, which is not normal in the country I live in. I understand that in India it may be accepted, but I am writing from my own standpoint in my own country.

The story is your usual cute story - the art is wonderfully done and there are many small things in each picture that children may have fun looking at. The text is easy to read and the font is appealing to the eye. Everything is so colorful, yet the story can seem depressing even with all the colors.

The Susu Pals is a nice colorful book, but with the limited appeal of the idea of sharing a toilet with your best friend, it may be best for only families whose culture accepts this practice.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

This book was acquired free from the author in exchange for a review.

Stella Bain is a novel about a woman by the same name who loses her memory due to shell shock. Surgeon August Bridge and his wife take her in and August does what he can to help Stella with her memory.

The book takes place during World War I, where Stella Bain is serving as a nurse's aide in a French camp. She begins waking up with no memories, and from there on it is a journey to regain them. It is important to keep track of her history, as it might be a little confusing if you do not understand the sequence of events that led up to her present. The book repeats the telling of many of these events several times though, which makes each scene very thorough. It feels as if the author is trying to make you feel like Stella Bain; you know nothing about the character from the beginning, and she is the same way. This is an interesting way to go about the novel; it is something that may have you wanting more.

Stella Bain can be broken down into a handful of sections, as each scene is thoroughly detailed. This helps develop the characters and plot very well, but this slow pace may not be appealing to everyone one. Character dialogue feels very realistic, and their interactions with each other are always interesting. It is interesting to see how Stella's memory begins to come back to her, which is something that can keep you reading. There are many twists throughout, which keeps things refreshing.

The book sometimes feels too slow. Scenes can drag out for a very long time. The book can be summarized pretty easily based on the handful of major scenes. The importance of reading the book though is so that you get all of small details throughout, which enhances the experience.

The book is well written, and makes you relate to what Stella is going through. It is very descriptive and easy to follow, so you will not get lost. The words flow very well, making this a rather easy book to read. There are no chapters; new pages and dividers create sections, with the occasional date and location showing a new section. This allows you to start and stop pretty much anywhere without having any trouble picking back up.

Stella Bain is an interesting novel that is incredibly detailed and interesting. It moves slowly, but this is helped by the amount of detail. It is worth reading, even if you may not be interested in World War I-related novels.

Interested? Get a preview of the book and buy it here.