Feeling grumpy? Overwhelmed? Irritated? Take a break, grab this book, and you'll find yourself smiling whether you want to or not.
This book reminds meFeeling grumpy? Overwhelmed? Irritated? Take a break, grab this book, and you'll find yourself smiling whether you want to or not.
This book reminds me of a child's picture book, as far as size and paper quality. The pages are thick, so they don't tear easily. The cover is sturdy, like a hard paperback or a soft hardcover.
Each page throughout is an excellent quality, full-color photograph, with the caption placed somewhere over the photo. The majority of photos are dogs and cats, but there are also monkeys, rabbits, pandas, and a variety of other animals.
This book definitely has a major cute factor. Some of the photos and captions had me giggling. All of them gave me a reason to smile.
This is a perfect book to have on a shelf for those moments when you need a distraction. It also makes a perfect gift for friends and relatives, especially the grumpy ones.
*I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher, via Blogging For Books, in exchange for my honest review.*...more
Having grown up in Massachusetts, where we were taught the glorified version of the American Revolution, I was pleasantly surprised by the unbiased, dHaving grown up in Massachusetts, where we were taught the glorified version of the American Revolution, I was pleasantly surprised by the unbiased, detailed account Derek Beck gives us with this book. While the topic is complex, the ease and structure of the writing simplifies things. This isn't a light read, but it also isn't one requiring a dictionary, map, and Master's degree to sort through.
The author has clearly done extensive research. We start when the Revolution, then barely a resistance, began simmering, with events leading us to the Boston Tea Party. This isn't a dry read, loaded with nothing but facts. Instead, we meet the key players of the time on a personal level, with their stories told through snippets of journals and letters. These bits are woven into the timeline, bringing history to life on the pages.
I was surprised by how the Revolution came about almost by accident. Neither side truly understood the other, and this was complicated by distance and their inability to immediately communicate. Through the honest telling of this part of our history, the author offers compelling insight into the political and very human aspects of war.
My quibbles are minor. For one, this 480 page book is only 272 pages of actual text. The rest of the book, nearly half, is the appendix, notes, etc. Consequently, some interesting and pertinent information is buried where most readers will never venture. I read a lot of nonfiction, but I'm one of those guilty of being bored by endless pages of notes at the end. I prefer the content to flow within the timeline of the book.
My other minor complaint is that the ending felt abrupt. In fairness to the author, he does finish at the right spot for his purposes. We're left at the time when the militia join forces, taking things from a disorganized rebellion to a more organized war. I would have liked some sort of summation, in closing, of the war to come. Perhaps that will be a sequel to this book.
Overall, this is straightforward, enlightening read perfect for anyone interested in the truth of how and why American became independent.
*I was provided with an ebook copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*...more
Hanover House is the prequel to Brenda Novak's upcoming series, Hanover House Chronicles, to be released in 2016. While a good read, it's not quite whHanover House is the prequel to Brenda Novak's upcoming series, Hanover House Chronicles, to be released in 2016. While a good read, it's not quite what I expected. This is far more romantic suspense than thriller.
The author does a great job of setting the stage for what's to come. We learn about Evelyn's past and how the brutality she suffered has left her emotionally scarred. Hanover House itself is not yet opened, and so we only glimpse at the making of this future prison full of psychopaths in which Evelyn will work.
The pace is quick and it's an easy read. I'm fascinated by the concept of studying incarcerated psychopaths in a separate prison built just for them.
A few things bothered me. First, we're repeatedly told how Evelyn remains traumatized by the attack on her twenty years prior, when she was sixteen. She's never had a relationship; never even properly kissed a man. She steers clear of men in general. Yet, she meets Sergeant Amarok and her knees melt. She's in instant lust and can barely contain herself. No, they don't hop in bed together, but they might as well have. She's all over him. I just couldn't make that leap. Sure, I understand that kind of immediate attraction. In general, I'd have had no problem going there. But we spend most of the book being told how emotionally damaged Evelyn is, and I couldn't see a woman like that suddenly drooling over one man she barely knows.
From the point when Evelyn meets Amarok, the book is heavy on the lust/romance aspect. I liked both characters, and liked them together, but it was too much too quick given Evelyn's twenty-year absolute disinterest and distrust of men.
Next, I felt the unfolding events were predictable. I could see it all coming a mile away. There were no real twists from my perspective.
And, finally, my own personal pet peeve of details. The author has clearly done her research on psychopathic behavior, and I have no issues with any of that at all. But little things bug me. For example, a couple are leasing a house in Boston, and the rent is mentioned - $1,000 per month. For a house. I almost spit out my tea. I grew up just south of Boston. There is nowhere in Boston or any surrounding suburb where you can rent an entire home for a thousand bucks. Maybe a room, definitely not a home.
All that being said, my complaints are specific to me, and others clearly have and will love this book. I do think it's a good setup for a promising and intriguing series.
*I was provided with an ebook copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*...more
I'm torn on how to review this book. I'll start with what I liked: The author shares some extraordinary stories and anecdotes of life behind prison waI'm torn on how to review this book. I'll start with what I liked: The author shares some extraordinary stories and anecdotes of life behind prison walls. For readers unfamiliar with the truth of our prison system, many of these stories will be shocking. Even those hardcore readers who believe people in prison need to be punished, as opposed to rehabilitated, can't possibly read this and not be horrified. But there is also humor to lighten the mood, as well as some moments of hope to raise the spirits.
Now the not so good stuff (for me): I felt the book lacked a thread of continuity. This reads a bit like journal entries, with stories from each workday blended in with rants about the frustration of bureaucracy. We go from one thing to the next, a steady stream of stories without much insight. I would have liked more focus, or some way of connecting everything with specific discussion points.
My other problem comes with the writing style, which felt, at times, oddly removed, particularly for a memoir. The author tells us that certain things upset her regarding inmates' treatment, but I never felt it. I never saw a real reaction. Instead, as with many people unhappy with their jobs or their lives, the author plods along and tries to block out the things that upset her. And when it finally all becomes too much, she resigns. I just didn't feel the outrage from the author that I was feeling as a reader.
This memoir ends in the year 2000, when the author left her job. I have an advanced review copy, which ends rather abruptly. I understand that the published book will have an epilogue. I think that will be an important aspect, but of course I can't comment on the quality of that epilogue.
I do commend the author for writing this book. That alone earns extra points from me. We simply cannot call ourselves a civilized society, while behind prison walls we're tossing the poor into isolation cells (Supermax) for years at a time. And, yes, it's always the poor. You will not see a wealthy person in Supermax, and that is not because wealthy people don't break the law. We need more people like Mary Buser to speak up so that, maybe, enough of us will get too angry to sit back in silence.
*I received an ebook copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*...more
This is such a cool book! To start with, the book itself is pretty to look at and easy to navigate through.
As for the recipes, each one gives simpleThis is such a cool book! To start with, the book itself is pretty to look at and easy to navigate through.
As for the recipes, each one gives simple instructions, along with optional boosters for nutrition, weight loss, etc. There are beautiful quality color photos to go with each recipe. And nutritional information for each smoothie is listed at the bottom of the page.
Some of these recipes immediately sound yummy, while others not so much. But even those taste surprisingly good! This book has a whole lot of smoothie recipes, and I haven't even tried half yet, but I'm enjoying each experience.
*I was provided with a free copy by the publisher, via Blogging For Books, in exchange for my honest review.*
Sometimes a story is just a story. Other times, as with this book, it's an all-encompassing experience.
Let's start with the writing, which is, I thinSometimes a story is just a story. Other times, as with this book, it's an all-encompassing experience.
Let's start with the writing, which is, I think flawless. There is no sign of intrusion from the author. We are whisked away by the characters and brought to their world. We're like voyeurs in their lives, only better, because we can feel it as well as see it.
That brings us to the characters. They are... I was going to type 'realistic', but that's not right. They are simply - real. They could have popped off the pages and stood in front of me.
The plot is complex, intertwined, heartbreaking, and honest. This is a mystery, yes, but it's also literary and social commentary, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. The author's handling of Hispanic culture and immigration issues is pure magic. She reminds us, without ever interfering or forcing the plot, that immigration is not just a political soundbite. When we allow it to be about the politics, instead of the people, we lose a bit of our humanity.
When I picked this book to read, I didn't realize it was the second in a series. I had absolutely no problem connecting to or understanding the characters, so this works exceptionally well as a stand-alone.
*I received an ebook copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*...more
I grew up just south of Boston, where any reference to "Whitey" didn't need to be followed by a last name. Even those of us who didn't know the detailI grew up just south of Boston, where any reference to "Whitey" didn't need to be followed by a last name. Even those of us who didn't know the details, knew Whitey was a notorious local mobster, loved by some and hated by others. This book unravels the tangled mess of mobsters, connections, and the various law enforcement agencies involved from start to finish in Whitey's criminal life.
I found this to be an easy read, as far as writing style and the way the content is presented. But it's not a light or a quick read, nor could it be given the subject matter. The author provides a detailed account of events, with all the intricacies within the many relationships. We're taken into Whitey's life as his crimes become more blatant and brutal. Then we're taken through his trial, where witnesses relive the events.
The corruption and complicity regarding the FBI's treatment of Whitey and his associates is, for lack of a better word, astounding. This, I think, is the heart of the story, because without that complicity, Whitey's criminal enterprise would never have gone on as it did.
This book shines a spotlight on our government's practice of recruiting high-level criminal informants, of protecting them, and of the shroud of secrecy surrounding it all. For that reason alone, whether you care about Whitey Bulger or not, this book needs to be read and talked about. Until we demand changes, this type of atrocity will happen again and again, and will remain cloaked in government secrecy. ...more
This book has a lot of glowing reviews. I'm going to step outside the norm; I didn't love it. For the most part, I didn't even like it.
The genre is maThis book has a lot of glowing reviews. I'm going to step outside the norm; I didn't love it. For the most part, I didn't even like it.
The genre is marketed as a "noir mystery", but it's more like whodunit crime fiction. The attempt at noir mainly comes through as sarcastic humor and juvenile sex references. This is only an observation meant for those serious readers looking for a true noir experience. Genre isn't an important factor for me when I read, though it does create expectations.
With any fiction book, I'm always drawn to characters first. These characters, for me, are stereotypical and one-dimensional. The story is told in first person, from Nob's perspective. He's a cop-turned-writer who acts like an inexperienced PI. I couldn't help but wonder what happened to his professional training. I didn't like him. He's sarcastic, all the time, and rarely has a serious or honest conversation.
Then there's Gloria, his best friend with benefits. She's an unprofessional homicide detective, who is brash and apparently can't keep her clothes on around Nob. I think the author intended her to be bold and independent, but she comes off instead as childish, impetuous, and needy. She's always grabbing at his crotch and making inappropriate comments in public, which feel more like she's trying to lay claim to property than her being a free sexual spirit. This is accented by the fact that, despite claims of her not being monogamous and wanting new sex partners all the time, Nob is the only man she's falling all over.
We also have Nob's assistant, Melody, who has a small and annoying part. I can only assume the author intended for her to be quirky. I thought she was ridiculous. Throughout the book, she'd randomly drop into a split or stick her foot up behind her ear, in the midst of a conversation, just because she could. She behaved like an eight-year-old.
And, finally, I have to mention the cast of bad guys. They were all thoroughly interchangeable, like stock characters picked off a shelf. Each had all the expected bad guy traits - nothing more and nothing less.
Now on to the plot. From my perspective, it's kind of a tangled mess. I have to give the author credit for his attempt in tackling a serious topic. But the sarcastic, childish nature of the characters took away from any real meaning behind the content.
I was also bugged by some inconsistencies. For instance, early in the story Nob mentions that Lana named her two daughters after classic movie stars. Then, later in the story when a clue pops up having to do with classic movies, Nob states that he never saw Lana as the "classic movie type". Also, at one point in the story he digs out his gun for protection, commenting that he rarely carries one because they make him uncomfortable. He was a cop! I likely noticed this stuff more because I was already irritated by all the sarcasm, brashness, and unprofessional behavior.
I wish I could be as enthusiastic about this book as the majority of readers. I was excited to read a book combining rock 'n' roll with the noir genre, but it just didn't work for me.
*I was provided with a free copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.* ...more
This book is part memoir, part exposé on our prison system. It's an interesting read, from the perspective of a woman who spent almost two decades eduThis book is part memoir, part exposé on our prison system. It's an interesting read, from the perspective of a woman who spent almost two decades educating inmates. What makes this book unique, for me, is that the author did not start out as an activist. She had no strong beliefs about our justice system. She sort of fell into the job, figuring it out as she went along.
Because this memoir encompasses decades, some of the author's experiences no longer apply to current circumstances. Laws and prison systems have changed. Still, much hasn't changed, and the lessons learned here remain the same.
For the most part, Jan Walker does not address our justice system or the intricacies of prison life. The focus here is on the need for education within prisons. Things most of us take for granted, such as personal reflection, are foreign concepts to many inmates. The majority of these men and women have children, but have no idea how to parent and have no good role models. Since most incarcerated men and women are eventually released, it is in society's best interest to do all we can to ensure they will lead productive, healthy lives. Even more important, we need to ensure they know how to nurture their children, so the generations don't continue the criminal behavior.
This is an easy read, with a conversational writing style. The author's hope in writing this book is that it will inspire people to consider prison reform in new ways. I join her in that hope, because we badly need both reform and more people as devoted as Jan Walker.
*I was provided with a free copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*...more
For me, plots are important but characters are vital. So let's start there: Characters. The two narrators areTorturous, agonizing... and so damn good!
For me, plots are important but characters are vital. So let's start there: Characters. The two narrators are estranged sisters who come back together in the worst imaginable circumstances. These are ordinary women but they are not ordinary characters. They are damaged and strong and funny and flawed. They are not created simply to move the story forward. Their personalities bring multiple dimensions to the story, showing us the family dynamics and all that went into who they became.
Now let's talk about the plot. I have a simple word for that: Riveting. We start out with a slow boil, and the tension builds, the pace increases, all leading us to an intense, shattering conclusion. The last quarter of the book almost killed me. I kept putting it down because I couldn't take it, then I'd pick it back up because I couldn't wait. I saw it playing out, felt it under my skin.
This is not a book for squeamish readers. The details left me needing sunlight and dog hugs. The author brings us right to the brink with the characters. The experience is both shattering and profound.
If you haven't read anything by Karin Slaughter, read this one. Then read everything else she's written. ...more
History, particularly as it is taught in our public schools, comes to us filtered down through the perspectives of those involved. Nations want to seeHistory, particularly as it is taught in our public schools, comes to us filtered down through the perspectives of those involved. Nations want to see themselves in the best light, and we, as citizens, want to accept that what we're taught is the unbiased truth. The whole truth; not just the bits and pieces considered relevant by those in charge of textbooks and curriculum. Often only time and distance allows us to see clearly the entire picture, exactly as it played out, without distorting the view. Timothy Snyder gives us that gift here, and it's one we need to accept and acknowledge.
This book is not an easy read. We can't expect it to be. The content is harsh, disturbing, and frightening. The facts are laid out for us here and we can't look away. We can't make excuses. Millions of innocent people were murdered, while nations stood by and allowed it, or even assisted.
The content here is also complex. It's not a book you're likely to read quickly. This is one of those books that takes time to absorb. That being said, the author does a phenomenal job of putting it all together. The timeline is consistent and precise. We start well before WWII, back when the USSR was formed and forced starvation was taking place in the Ukraine. We see how this, along with other events, paved the way for Hitler's Holocaust. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, least of all international events of this magnitude. Hitler, as vicious as he was, did not act alone. Germany did not act alone. Somewhere, the spark turned into a flame. Along the way, others were complicit. Nowhere have I read such an intricate, detailed, terrifying account exposing the truth of WWII.
This is a timely read. History does not repeat itself, exactly. We don't have a second Hitler on the rise. We aren't about to exterminate Jews. But when you read this account, the parallels between events then and events now are unmistakable. The author summarizes this in his closing, and it should scare everyone out of their stupor. Everyone needs to read this. Until we truly understand and acknowledge our past mistakes we are doomed to recreate them in countless, horrifying ways....more