This eBook was provided to me by the author. While I received the book at no cost to myself, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.
Here we have the third installment of Lee’s middle grade fiction series about Andy Smithson, a young man who is able to transport, although not at will, between his home in Texas and a magical land called Oomaldee. In this land, Andy has discovered his destiny, which is to break a curse over the land. He also has very strong ties to the King, which is explained more in this book.
Along with Andy and the King are Mermin, a speech-impaired magician; Alden, Andy’s best friend in Oomaldee; Hannah, a beautiful young lady who has caught Andy’s eye and not just for her looks; and of course, a whole case of supporting characters.
The primary protagonist is Abaddon, a bitter soul who prefers the form of a seven-headed dragon, although he is able to assume other forms. Abaddon has the ability to turn humanoid creatures into a cross between humans and vultures, and this merry band of fowl-brained henchmen do most of the evil lord’s dirty work.
The story picks up with Andy back in his homeland with his mom and dad, where he learns more about Oomaldee and his mundane world ties to the magical world. While enjoying a family trip to Schlitterbahn Water Park, Andy’s dragon friend Daisy comes to retrieve him, from the middle of the crowded water park, causing quite a commotion.
Once back in Oomaldee, Andy learns Abaddon, who is still injured from his battle with Andy in Book Two and unable to shapeshift, has been transforming a lot of Oomaldee citizens into the vulture creatures. Knowing he must eventually battle Abaddon again, Andy is preoccupied with another task: breaking the curse.
Having read a potion recipe for curing wounds, Andy discovers unicorn horn is a powerful healing agent. Not coincidentally, there are three unicorns in the north part of the kingdom. So Andy, The King, Mermin, Alden, Hannah and a handful of The King’s men (but alas, no Humpty Dumpty, although there are a few runny / running egg gags in the series) set out to find the unicorns in the hopes the magical beasts will gift a horn to them for breaking the curse.
Complicating manners is a mysterious orb appearing only to Andy, the orb in the guise of his mother. She encourages him to get a unicorn horn for her too, to save her life (explained earlier in the book, but it’s a spoiler, soooooo…). Now Andy must choose between saving the kingdom and saving his mother.
A seven-headed monkey wrench in the works is Abaddon, who eventually captures the traveling party, but has allowed Andy, Alden and Hannah to travel and find the unicorns so that he might have a horn to heal himself. Throw in some helpful dwarves, pungent treasure-loving trolls, and other typical traps, both magical and non-magical, and there’s plenty to keep our heroes occupied.
Will Andy get enough horns to free the hostages, break the curse and save his mother? If he has insufficient horns and has to choose, what will he choose? And is this a love triangle I see starting to form? I’m sure that will cause some drama as we move along too.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Lee has really grown as a writer from her first book, and I’m pleased to see she has at least seven books planned for the series. The plot is developing at a reasonable pace, the characters are slowly fleshing out, and the book remains true to the middle grade age group it’s intended for, both in pacing, appropriate violence level, and vocabulary.
I’m glad Lee allowed me to review this book, and I look forward to the future installments.
I received a copy of this book from YMAA Publishing Center in exchange for an honest read and review. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.
That said, YMAA is essentially just keeping a junkie addicted with what they’re giving me. Here I am, a martial artist, who respects the author for his real-world martial arts training advice, and they are offering me the third book in this series, having already provided me with the first two books? Yeah, please!
As noted in previous reviews of “Dukkha: The Suffering” and “Dukkha: Reverb”, I am a fan of the characters Christensen has created, especially Sam Reeves. Authors are always told “Write what you know.”, and Christensen takes this advice literally. He is a martial arts instructor, Vietnam veteran (Tip of the cap to all vets), and a retired law enforcement officer. Not surprisingly, Reeves takes on all those roles, although his LEO career is still active. This allows Christensen to breathe life and depth into his protagonist in a way that many authors can only dream of.
But it doesn’t stop there. Christensen has also created believable characters in Reeves’s and “sister” Mai as well as their father Samuel. Granted, a lot of what Samuel does can be perceived as superhuman, but hey, we all have to have goals, right?
OK, enough about all that, let’s get to the book.
As if you can’t already tell, I loved this book. It’s great to see the author still has some new ideas and circumstances to throw his protagonists into. He’s certainly not a one trick pony. While Sam was in Vietnam visiting family and making a dent in the human trafficking there, some hate crimes started cropping up around Portland. Just as Sam returns, the victims are Mark, Sam’s boss who also happens to be gay, and Mark’s partner. While Sam certainly would have wanted to stop the crimes, it suddenly became very personal.
Things are complicated enough for Sam without one minor detail: while in Vietnam he realized he never wanted to carry or fire a gun again. So now he has to track down the people responsible for these violent hate crimes, and he only has his bare hands, and whatever improvised weapon he can find, to assist him.
Of course, every well-rounded novel needs a little romance, and Christensen doesn’t disappoint. Naturally the biggest emotional tension is between Sam and Mai, the latter beginning the novel still in Vietnam. Will they continue to grow together, or will the distance make them drift?
So yeah, I really enjoyed this novel. Hearing even more books are in the works makes me nearly, yeah, I’ll admit it, giddy. It’s so refreshing to read a novel with genuine action scenes that I can picture while still maintaining the realism only a season veteran of violence can bring to the page.
If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, stop now, go get them, and read them. Then read this one. You won’t regret it.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley, with thanks to Little, Brown & Company for making it available. While I received this book at no cost to myself, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.
That said, I love macaroni and cheese. The cover of this made me hungry, and I’d just eaten. How could I not like a book about macaroni and cheese when I already have an inclination toward loving such a book? Then again, maybe with high expectations, a book might not be able to meet them.
I must confess I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. While I’ve cooked some variations of macaroni and cheese, both stove top and as casseroles, I really couldn’t fathom what else might be out there. I honestly expected a basic macaroni and cheese dish, followed by slight variations: different cheeses, different meats, maybe some vegetables, perhaps some panko or other breadcrumbs. Something like that, and that’s all.
Boy, was I ever wrong. Try some of these recipes on for size:
- Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese Pasta Salad - Paneer, Pineapple and Cucumber Pasta Salad - Toma Macaroni Egg Rolls With Spicy-Sweet Dipping Sauce - Szechuan-Style Udon With Piave And Radicchio - Penne With Etorki Cream Sauce And Asparagus - Pumpkin Stuffed With Fontina, Italian Sausage And Macaroni
Get the idea?
One thing I really like about the recipes is they are described in such a way as to identify why the various ingredients work together, and not just the pasta and cheese. Additionally, they will offer alternatives for the ingredients, especially if they include a hard-to-find cheese. The directions for the recipes are also very detailed, again, giving a lot of detail as to why each step should be performed the way it’s described.
Another valuable asset of this book is its appendices, where various types of cheeses and pastas are described in detail, noting which ingredients, sauces, cheeses, etc., blend well with them and why.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It not only hit a home run with a universal comfort food, it has given me many ideas on how to adapt other recipes based on the ideas I learned here. I definitely am going to get a hardcopy of this book to add to my cookbook collection.
I received a copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. Even though it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
In May 2013, I read and reviewed the first book in this series, “Blast Of The Dragon’s Fury”. While I certainly enjoyed the story and Lee’s writing, I was very critical of grammatical and simple word choice mistakes. My concern was the target audience, middle grade students. As that age group is just starting to really explore and choose books that meet their specific interest areas, it was imperative to me the book not have so many errors. We certainly wouldn’t want the students presuming something like “calvary” being a group of soldiers mounted on horseback, rather than the correct “cavalry”.
I really appreciate the way Lee handled my critique. I have had authors take me to task for such criticism, but Lee met it head on, making sure I got a copy of the second book. She handled it all with great professionalism, and I commend her for that.
That said, I had no such problems with this book, so kudos to Lee for that. I certainly experienced fewer speed bumps, as it were, making the book a quick, smooth read.
In this book, Andy Smithson, the titular character, returns to Oomaldee for an unknown reason. Waiting for him are many of the same cast of characters from the first book: King Hercalon, his sorcerer sidekick Mermin, Andy’s friend Alden, and all the other castle staff who’ve come to love Andy.
Unfortunately, the vulture men are also back, including Razen, now a trusted adviser to the king. This position certainly causes Andy some pause during the story, not sure if he can trust Razen or not.
As the story progresses, Andy learns the king’s deep dark secret as well as the true cause of the curse that haunts the kingdom. The theft of a magical stone, which has kept both the king and Mermin healthy and immortal, causes both of them to become very sick. And away goes Andy, Alden and a cast of supporting characters, to fight the evil Abbadon, who is aided by the spirit of the king’s sister, Imogenia.
Will they be able to defeat Abbadon again, especially when the evil dragon is unlikely to underestimate Andy again? Will they accomplish their mission in time to save the king and Mermin? What lessons will Andy learn along the way? I guess you’ll just need to read it and find out. :)
Much like the first book, I really enjoyed this for the lessons it is trying to teach the young readers. Such lessons are honesty, accepting fault when you make a mistake, and acceptance of things you cannot change, while conversely being very determined to change those you can.
I like the way Lee fills in the story with other details, such as a game played in Oomaldee called Oscray. While it doesn’t have the magical elements of a game such as Quidditch, it’s still an egg-cellent game and is easy to visualize due to Lee’s narrative.
Overall, I was very pleased with this book. I can’t wait for the next installment!
In the midst of the review copies I've agreed to read, I have to throw in the occasional "want to" book. This is one such book.
I became fascinated by the architecture of Fay Jones following my wedding in the Mildred B. Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Later, I learned of the Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and many other projects of Jones's.
This book is a fascinating collection of pictures and drawings from not just the chapels above, but other buildings, both public and private, which were created by Fay Jones. There is also a fair amount of history behind Jones and how he got started in architecture.
Overall, it was a light, fun read with lots of pictures, which makes it sound like a children's book :) But in reality, it shows the creativity and genius Jones has displayed through many of his creations. I'm not sure people fully appreciate the works he has created.
I always feel a little guilty reviewing a cookbook produced by the same folks who produce a magazine I subscribe to, in this case, Food & Wine. After all, if I like the subscription enough to continue it, the odds are pretty good I’ll like a cookbook produced by the same publisher.
However, this is a little bit different, and it makes all the difference in the world. This cookbook is a collection of recipes from what Food & Wine determined to be the 25 best cookbooks of 2012. Not only does this give me some outstanding recipes, I get a free glimpse into 25 cookbooks to see if they are of interest to me.
Certainly, not all the cookbooks included here are down my alley, but the vast majority are, perhaps 20 of them. Those 20 have definitely been added to my To-Read list, and I hope to be able to track them down and add them to my collection.
Alright, on to the review of the book itself. It’s essentially ordered in a way that each included cookbook has a title page giving some details about the cookbook and its author(s). This is followed by several recipes from that cookbook. Each group is peppered with several high quality photos showing what the completed dish should look like. For amateur cooks like myself, this is essential. While my finished product may not be five-star restaurant worthy, at least it should resemble the picture in the book. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
Needless to say, this collection contains recipes from across the menu: appetizers, drinks, entrées, desserts, etc. There are also many cuisines represented, which is wonderful for me since I love all cuisines I’ve tried. Certainly I have favorites, but I have found something of interest in all I’ve tried.
So what recipes are represented? Try some of these on for size:
- Chicken Paillards With Pancetta & Sage - Shrimp Curry - Salt-Massaged Cucumber With Miso & Sesame - Spareribs With Italian Plum Glaze - Grapefruit Tea Cake - Tomato & Almond Tarts - Jicama Sticks With Chile & Lime - Banana Buckwheat Bundt Cake
And those are just the ones that really caught my immediate interest. There are many other wonderful recipes I hope to try and, of course, eventually get the cookbooks from which they originated. Hungry yet?
I received an eGalley of this book through Penguin Books’ First To Read program. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.
When I first agreed to read this novel, I didn’t realize it was the fourth book in The Department Q series. So it took me a bit to catch up with the characters and what the author presumes the reader already knows from the previous three books.
Nete Hermansen has an axe to grind. As a youth in the 1950s, she was forcefully sterilized by physician Curt Wad. In the eighties she sets plans in motion to bring about revenge on Wad and others involved in her abuse.
In present day, Detective Carl Mørck gets handed a case he really didn’t want any part of because of the emotional baggage associated with it. The case involves two of his former partners, and the case is also responsible for getting Mørck involved in Department Q. As the detective digs into the disappearance of a lady named Rita, who owned a brothel at the time she vanished, he and his assistants learned that many other people disappeared at the same time.
As the story moves along, you learn more about Wad and his political ambitions, not to mention the evidence he gathers as a means of cataloging blackmail against political adversaries. Eventually the lives of Wad, Hermansen, Mørck and the missing persons, all come together into a nice bit of crime solving for Department Q.
As I noted earlier, I’ve not read anything by Adler-Olsen before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve also, as far as I know, never read any fiction that takes place in modern day Denmark.
About halfway through the book I learned through some online reading that Adler-Olsen’s books are originally written in Danish and then translated to English. That certainly helped explain some issues I had with the book, as it didn’t seem to flow as naturally as I would like following the translation. I particularly was thinking of “The Girl Who…” series by Stiegg Larsson. The translations on those didn’t feel quite so cumbersome.
That said, I liked the way Adler-Olsen built the story. It does flip back and forth between timelines a bit, but considering the way they are tied together, it’s a necessity. Either way, I will likely go back and pick up the first three books in the series to check them out too.
I received a copy of this book via Penguin’s First To Read program, so many thanks to them for making it available. While it was provided to me at not cost to myself, I am not obligated to give a positive review.
Somehow, I have managed to not read anything by Krentz before, whether it be as Krentz or under a nom de plume such as Amanda Quick or Jayne Castle. I know she’s perceived as writing romantic suspense, but that’s not why I haven’t read anything by her before. Simply put, I just haven’t.
That said, I didn’t really know what to expect with this offering. But I always give things a fair read, otherwise, how would you discover new authors?
This story opens with our protagonist, Lucy Sheridan, being saved from a potentially bad situation at a party by Mason Fletcher, a young man who’s a few years older and who always seems to be the one to stand up for others and rescuing them. Lucy is, like many teens, not so understanding or grateful to her rescuer. Mason, after returning Lucy home, confronts Tristan, the spoiled rich brat who had hoped to take advantage of Lucy, instructing him to leave Lucy alone. Shortly after, Tristan mysteriously disappears, and his body is never found.
Fast forward to thirteen years later, when Lucy’s aunt has passed away, leaving Lucy with the inheritance. Lucy returns to Summer River to find that much has changed. What used to be a sleepy little town has now been swallowed up by the wine industry. Vineyards surround the town, and the people too have changed. And not all of them are happy to see Lucy again.
Naturally, when Lucy returns to Summer River, she reconnects with Mason again. He’s pretty much the same, wanting to do things for her, and not surprisingly, Lucy’s the same way, not wanting to be helped. Some things never change. At least at first. As the story develops, so does their romance. But of course, we pretty well knew that from the opening scene. It just seemed natural they’d find their way back around to each other, right? :)
As Lucy begins preparing her aunt’s house for sale, the renovations uncover something interesting that pulls folks related to her aunt and Tristan into their lives. And as I noted earlier, they aren’t too happy to see she and Mason poking around.
So the story develops and moves along, Lucy getting into hot water, Mason having to save her, or Lucy saving herself. Reluctantly, she begins to see his worth, and hey, his good looks don’t hurt his cause any.
So what really happened to Tristan? Was the car accident that killed Lucy’s aunt and friend really an accident? Who’s got the secrets to hide and why?
I really liked the way that Krentz developed this story. I’m not opposed to a little romance in my suspense, although perhaps a bit less in this case. But it’s not overbearing at all. It’s not like it’s a romance novel with suspense as a subplot. Certainly, Krentz has published enough books, and successfully so I might add, in different genres that she knows how to craft a good story.
As noted earlier, I haven’t read any of Krentz’s other novels to know if they are formulaic, but I will certainly let this story stand on its own for the time being. It was, at its core, a well-crafted romantic suspense novel with enough twists and turns to keep the reader wanting to turn the page. What more could you ask for in a book?
As a subscriber to Cooking Light Magazine, I will admit I’m probably predisposed to liking this book. But at the same time, I have an expectation of standards that needed to be met. That said, this book will be a wonderful addition to my collection.
One of the things I have always liked about the magazine is the creativity applied to the recipes. You aren’t stuck with just vegetarian recipes that have no flavor or oomph to them. That creativity certainly applies to this collection of recipes.
I didn’t dig through the issues I have on hand, but several of the recipes seemed familiar. While that might be an issue for some, I certainly don’t mind. I’m all for trying to consolidate the best recipes into a single location.
Like many cookbooks, this one is broken down into sections based on the type of recipe: appetizers, meats, poultry, pasta and pizza, desserts, etc. However, check out some of the recipes:
- Thai Chicken Salad With Peanut Dressing - Cajun Steak Frites With Kale - Slow-Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast - Walnut And Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken - Cauliflower With Garlicky Panko - Chicken Parmesan Burgers - Crab Bisque - Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake - Bourbon-Caramel Truffles
Yeah, you get the idea. Not your average Good For You recipes for sure.
Bottom line is, if you’re familiar with the magazine, this book will seem very familiar to you. If not, it will still become a valuable addition to your culinary library. Who knows, it might even lead you to a subscription to the magazine. I know mine has been well worth the cost.
For those of y’all who follow my blog regularly, I don’t always post reviews of books I received from authors or publishers. While I don’t offer to review anything that I wouldn’t want to purchase or read in the first place, it’s not my sole source of reading material. Occasionally I do get to work through a book that is of interest to me, something I purchased from Amazon the old-fashioned way.
Such is this wonderful memoir, written loosely in journal format. Ryan Rhodes and his wife (does he ever give her name? I only remember her being referred to as “my wife”) have a long struggle in front of them when their twins are taken by C-section at only 23 weeks gestation. Thus begins a long journey in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), which sees the death of their infant son Finn at only three days old as well as the challenges facing Finn’s surviving womb-mate, Zoey.
Rhodes, who happens to be a freelance writer, handles the story in a very loose, informal, relaxed manner. As I noted, it’s in journal format, so there are times it’s very detailed and other times it’s more sleep deprivation-induced stream of consciousness. But through it all, Rhodes remains honest about himself, his wife, what’s going on with Zoey, and even their struggles to keep life with their toddler Aiden as normal as possible.
Zoey’s 124 days in NICU are, as expected, up and down. Each day is spent wondering what else could possibly go wrong, while celebrating the most minute advances. Rhodes does an outstanding job of giving the details as they occur, when he remembers or is able to write, while putting a humorous spin on much of his observations. At the core, though, is a very honest and heartfelt look at life in NICU from a father’s perspective, which is unfortunately all too uncommon.
As the father of a son (now twenty) who spent a couple weeks in NICU, so much of this book was very familiar. The emotions, the struggles, the setbacks, the celebrations, it all touched an emotional nerve. And because of that, I know it’s true and from the heart. Kudos, Mr. Rhodes.
Anova Books was kind enough to supply me, through NetGalley, with this eGalley for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
This book was absolutely not what I was expecting. And that’s a good thing.
I honestly expected lots of frozen casseroles, lasagnas, crock pot / slow cooker dishes, things like that. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Try the following recipes on for size:
- Scotch Quail Eggs with Brown Sauce - Southern Style Pork Shoulder - Neck Of Lamb with Roasted Garlic and Flageolet Beans - Shallot Tarts with Taleggio and Pine Nuts - Honey Roasted Carrots with Za’Atar - Exploding Chocolate Pots - Sticky Apple Cake with Drunk Currants
You get the idea. Not your average frozen dinner, that’s for sure.
Admittedly, most of these recipes have both make-ahead and final prep components to them, so they aren’t just ones you can take from freezer to oven to table. But the most labor intensive portion of each recipe is done in advance, and that portion is frozen or refrigerated until you need it.
I really enjoyed this book, and it’s made me look at busy weeknight meals differently. I don’t know how often I’ll serve quail eggs, but I will definitely be trying several of the dishes. One thing I would have liked to have seen more of was pictures of the finished dishes, although there certainly wasn’t a dearth of images in the book. Just personal preference, that’s all.
I received a copy of this book from Columbia University Press via NetGalley. While it was provided at no expense to myself, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
First and foremost, if you are looking for a book that is going to verify your beliefs in all things cryptozoology, you are going to be disappointed.
This book actually takes the opposite tack. It takes scientific principles and applies them to the study of and hunt for various cryptids. The authors basically alternate chapters, each doing their part to tackle the specific topic at hand.
They do spend a lot of time at the very beginning talking about what is and isn’t good science and who is and isn’t qualified to be an expert in subjects related to cryptozoology. Just because someone has a PhD in science doesn’t mean they’re qualified, especially if the specialization is in chemistry, not zoology, etc.
But their biggest argument seems to be the strongest one: Show Me The Body. Surely, in our ever expanding world, where the population is increasing and places where these famous cryptids can hide are diminishing, surely someone would have found proof of Bigfoot, Yeti, Nessie, etc. Add in advanced scientific understanding and technology, and it seems even more likely.
Once the authors tackle the foundation of research, they go into details with several famous crytpids, talking about various claims throughout the years and debunking them via scientific principles. That was actually more interesting to me than the introductory chapters, as I learned more about the legends behind these famous mythical creatures.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, although it was pretty dry in places. There was also a general overtone of superiority over those who believe in cryptids, which got to be a little overbearing at times, but I understand that was the point of the book.
Via NetGalley, Top Shelf Productions supplied me with a copy of this eGalley for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. While it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
I was raised Catholic. There. It’s out in the open. Judge me now or judge me later.
Catholics don’t usually have Vacation Bible School, so I invariably went with friends to whatever VBS they were attending that week. It was a surefire way for my parents to keep my brother and I out of trouble. Well, you can’t blame them for trying.
I remember that during one of them there was a contest to memorize scriptures. I have always had outstanding recall, so this was right up my alley. Add in that the first place prize was a one pound bag of peanut M&Ms, and I had all the motivation I needed. I won that contest easily. Good thing I don’t have a peanut allergy. And that bag of M&Ms was gone within the hour when I got home. My stomach still hurts.
This book had no chocolate and candy shell-covered nuts as a reward at the end, but it was certainly equally as fun. In this hilarious offering, the authors (one the writer, the other the artist) take each book of the Bible (as I type this, “Born Again” by Black Sabbath is playing in the background. Ironic.) and summarize it in succinct and humorous ways. There are gems such as:
Here it is, the entire Jewish religion in a nutshell:
1. Build a just society where the rich and powerful don’t get to treat the rest of us like livestock.
2. Don’t get all too cool for school whenever God tries to tell you something. Be humble. You’re never so holy that you can’t improve a little.
3. For gravy’s sake, help each other out once in a while. Don’t you understand? We’re here on Earth to make life better for each other.
Oh, and make no mistake about it, this is not a book for kids. While it definitely pares down all the archaic language and mystery from the scripture, the word choice and topics are very much for adults. No, it’s not raunchy or X-rated, but there are definitely obscenities.
Overall, I thought this book was absolutely hilarious, if not very irreverent. It takes what can be a very cumbersome and daunting text and breaks out each book of the Bible into a few pages of humorous summation. I laughed out loud all through it. Yes, it’s irreverent, but it’s also accurate in its interpretation. And in that, it’s earned the rating.
Simon & Schuster was kind enough to provide, through NetGalley, a copy of this eGalley for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
A relationship and sex advice book for women? Somehow, I might not be the target audience for this book. :) But at the same time, it is always nice to see what advice is being given to the fairer sex.
That said, this book was hilarious. Admittedly, I knew who Loni Love was, but wasn’t really familiar with her career or stand-up routine until reading this book. She’s definitely someone I find very amusing.
The premise of this book is simple: ladies, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. But what I also like is that Love doesn’t make it appear that a woman should be the center of a relationship, just an equal partner. At one point, she doles out the following advice: “If you want your man, respect your man”. Exactly. And she makes it abundantly clear it’s a two-way street.
But the real catch of this book is the manner Love dishes out her advice. The format is much like an advice column, where Love poses a question from a woman and then replies in her own inimitable style. This is done in a very laid back, comical manner that is straight to the point. She also provides many real-world examples, many of which I presume are fabricated, to make her point.
So if you want some great, no-nonsense advice about life and relationships, this is definitely your book. It’s a rocking, rolling, hilarious, and quick read from one end to the other.
Century City Publishing was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this eGalley, through NetGalley, for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
My first thought when I saw the cover to this book: This is going to be a 300-plus page infomercial. And it was.
I agreed to review this book because as a martial arts instructor I have a vested interest in the health and well-being of myself and others. I was curious to see what Davis had to offer compared to what I had previously read.
The author spends the first 80% of the book talking about why he’s right. Yes, he does offer up research to support his claims, covering all the bases you would expect: farm meats are bad, farm fish are bad, carbonated (sugared or diet) drinks are bad, poor heart health is bad, excess free radicals are bad, stress is bad, fast food is bad, meditation and relaxation are good, etc.
He manages to cover all the reasons why things can go wrong with your health, tackling a few urban legends along the way, but mostly sticking with tried and true things most of us already know. So in that, I didn’t find much new. And I’m not sure that someone who wasn’t familiar with the fitness industry like I am would have learned too much either. Sure, they would have research and facts and studies to support them. But it’s all things most people know.
Keeping along with the infomercial feel, Davis made reference enough times to Chapter 18 as being where he would discuss his four-to-two method, I was tempted to skip ahead to that chapter just to get to the point. He also repeatedly, including on the cover of the book, talks about how you can achieve the fitness goals you want without having to exert yourself too much with running, aerobics, etc. Again, this has the feel of an infomercial, making it sound like you can have all this and not have to work hard at it. It sounds and feels like a shortcut.
Now, granted, Davis does make it clear you have to be dedicated to your fitness, You can’t get into peak physical condition without working for it. But it still felt like he was selling shortcuts.
So, what is his four-to-two method? I’m not telling you. Like it or not, Davis does have a right to make a buck, so I won’t reveal the contents of Chapter 18. But it’s a really simple concept, honestly, and one he will admit isn’t even a new or revolutionary idea. It appears he’s taken a somewhat familiar concept and repackaged it under a different name, then padded it with lots of stats and facts and warnings.
Overall, I wasn’t horribly impressed. Starting with the cover, it feels like he’s marketing to people who want the quick solution, but don’t have the dedication to stick with it, or they wouldn’t be looking for quick solutions in the first place. But hey, a man’s got the right to make a buck.
Through NetGalley, I received a copy of this eGalley from Passing 4 Normal Press, whom I thank for their generosity. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Ursula. I’ve always loved the name Ursula. Ursula Andress (“Dr. No”, anyone?). Ursula K. Le Guin (outstanding author). OK, there was the evil sea witch in “The Little Mermaid”. But still, I like the name. Apparently, in this story so did Donny, as he practices rolling the name off his tongue early in the book. It’s a cool name.
Well, among other things, Ursula has a problem. She’s never had a Big O (no, not Oscar Robertson or Oliver Miller). I’m talking about le petite mort, The Little Death, the Holy Grail. Yeah. That. And she’s pretty well decided it’s not going to happen.
Ursula starts seeing Donny and eventually they do click more and more as they burrow their way into each other’s lives and hearts, even though neither really expected or wanted it to happen.
But this isn’t just a love story. We have AgriNu, a large producer of GMO seeds, who happens to have the President’s ear. Slowly, they start making the use of anything other than their seeds a crime. So away go all the mom and pop and organic farms. Even having a garden in your back yard becomes illegal as AgriNu stages terrorist attacks and other fabricated events to put fear into the populace and hopefully increase their confidence in and reliance on AgriNu.
Then there are the mushrooms. Ursula has bowls of Kombucha mushrooms. Lots and lots of mushrooms. And they start talking to her.
Add in Donny’s best friend who decides to go off the grid, thereby coming into contact with some survival fanatics who are learning to live completely independently, who later come into play in the climax, pun intended, of this book, and there’s a lot going on.
Eventually, Donny, Ursula, and a whole supporting cast decide it’s time to save what’s left of the organic seeds and take AgriNu down a notch or more. All with the help of mushrooms.
Did I mention the mushrooms?
Certainly, this book is a naked, in many ways, cautionary tale of what can happen when corporate America gets too involved with agriculture, thereby wanting to serve themselves, not the people as a whole. Throw in some belly dancing ladies, a new Homeland Security division dedicated to rounding up those with organic seeds, the aforementioned survival fanatics, lots of hormones and lustiness, and much much more, and this is rollicking roll down the political highway.
Wait. Did I mention the mushrooms?
Overall, I found this an amusing book that obviously is trying to drive a point home while having some fun along the way. The author is kind enough to provide some links at the end of the book in case you need more information on the topic of GMOs and what they mean. I found it funny, but not hilarious, but interesting enough to keep reading at least.
University Of Iowa Press was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this eGalley through NetGalley for the purposes of reading and review it. Although it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
In this book, the author tells the story of her father, William “Bill” McAuliffe, and his battle with mental illness. While it seems to begin with torticollis, a disease which involves involuntary contraction of neck muscles, causing the head to be held at an unusual angle, the author digs pretty heavily into who her father was both before and after World War II, where he served in the Pacific Theater.
Along the way, we are exposed to a heart-breaking history of a man who slowly declined in health, both physically and mentally, before dying unexpectedly on the psychiatric ward of a hospital in the seventies. The author pulls no punches in her analysis of her father, herself and her immediate family. Her narrative is broken up by diary entries from Bill himself as well as memories from her mother, brothers, and other family members.
Ms. McAuliffe makes many literary and film parallels between those works and her and her father’s lives. She even notes her penchant for being involved in theater productions with a male protagonist or character with demons not unlike her father’s.
And so the book proceeds, with the author delving deeper and deeper into her research on her father, his past, and even herself and who she is. Is she destined to be like her father? Or will she be her own person?
This book is very introspective and informational, and as such I learned much about torticollis and Bill’s battle with it. It’s also very open and honest in all regards. In that, I think the author succeeded marvelously.
My only issue with the book is that at times it seemed too disjointed. While it’s not a long book (about 160 pages), it took me longer to get through than a typical book of that size would. It just didn’t flow as I would have liked it to. Otherwise, I think it’s a very heartfelt story by the author.
Many thanks to Taunton Press for providing me with a copy of this eGalley through NetGalley. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
As I noted when I reviewed “Ivan Ramen”, I dearly love noodles. Well, most pasta is counted in there too. And what do you know, along comes a book called “I Love Pasta”. You just know I was excited to request it and did a Snoopy Happy Dance when I was given permission to get the eGalley (“Hey Hey, Macaroni!”).
OK, on to the review. It only takes a quick glance at the cover to see the logo by pasta giant Barilla. Yes, they ultimately were responsible for putting this tome together, but in all fairness it wasn’t a cover-to-cover marketing ploy. Sure, the included recipes suggested Barilla pasta in each dish, but I don’t believe anyone is under any illusion they have to use Barilla pasta, although I have always liked it. The first twenty pages or so are a history of Barilla, but that’s a small price to pay for the goodness that follows.
First, the book does a wonderful job of explaining the history of pasta, including, one of the most fascinating aspects in my opinion, the etymological origin of each name. It also discusses why different pasta shapes and textures are better with some sauces and not so much with others. It was very nice reading some science behind the cooking.
Hands down the best part of this book is the recipes. Awesomeness.
There are three sections of recipes: long pasta, short pasta, and soup pasta. Each one includes about 30 recipes incorporating one type of pasta in that group. The recipes are straight-forward when it comes to ingredients and directions. They also include prep and cooking time as well as a difficulty level for each recipe.
But the absolute best part? Every single recipe is accompanied by a full color picture of the finished dish. Not just a small inset black and white picture. Full page, full color. Yeah, baby! While I’m not a professional chef and don’t expect my recipes to yield anything looking like those pictures, it’s still nice to see what it should look like when done correctly.
So, in case you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book. I’m a big fan of cooking and have more cookbooks and cooking magazines than you can shake a proverbial stick at. Still, this is definitely one I’ll keep handy.
YMAA Publication Center was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this eGalley through NetGalley for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Although I received it at no cost to myself, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Vincent is a Celtic warrior severely wounded in battle in the tenth century. He is then taken by Norse warriors on a long journey to the Middle East where he is sold as a slave. Near death, he is claimed by the Chinese monk Mah Lin and his daughter Selah. Vincent grows with them as he learns the way of the warrior-scholar, finding a new name, Arkthar, a new destiny, and even a new love.
The story shifts between the Arkthar’s story and the story of the Chinese Supreme Commander who, for whatever reason, goes unnamed in this book, as do several other non-incidental characters. The Supreme Commander has a grudge against Mah Lin as the latter was chosen to enter a monastery, when both were young boys, instead of the Supreme Commander. The destruction of Mah Lin and all he holds dear becomes a focal point of the Supreme Commander’s life.
The story builds as the parallel story lines eventually converge and then run concurrently to the climax. Along the way we have a year-long siege of a rebel outpost, Arkthar developing into a determined warrior-scholar, a countrywide outbreak of smallpox, and other smaller plot twists.
This book is a thinly veiled retelling or furthering of the Arthurian legends. Even the blurb on NetGalley says as much. In case you don’t get the similarities, Vincent, prior to his name change to Arkthar, refers to Mah Lin as Merlin. Of course, Arkthar is not coincidentally very similar to Arthur.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The pacing could have been a bit better, but I like the creative spin on the Arthurian legends. Of course, as a lover of Asian culture, the majority of the book takes place in a realm I’m destined to enjoy, if done well. There were a fair amount grammatical or spelling mistakes, but I’m as apt to blame the editor for that as the author. Bottom line, it was a fun, easy read.
I received a copy of this galley via NetGalley from Greenleaf Book Group. While it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
When I agreed to read this, I didn’t know it was the fourth book in the series. But sometimes, it can be good to pick up a book several books into a series so you can see how polished the book is. If it’s sloppy and ugly by the fourth book, chances are you don’t want to pick up the first three.
Alright, on to the review. The main character of this series is Liv Bergen who, as of this book, is fresh out of Quantico and ready for her first assignment with faithful bloodhound Beulah by her side. And boy, does it come with a vengeance.
Little Max is flying from New York to California to spend Christmas with his mother, who is estranged from his father and certainly not on good terms with him. Max is accompanied solely by an employee of the airlines and, once the employee is distracted by an argument with his girlfriend at Denver Airport, Little Max disappears. His parents are quite the celebrities, which brings a lot of local and national media attention to the case, only adding to the pressure on the investigative team.
Agent Bergen must work along with agents Streeter Pierce and Jack Linwood, the latter her current beau. Naturally, there’s a little bit of triangle chemistry going on to provide an additional subplot.
In the midst of this storyline is my favorite character, Noah Hogarty, a twelve year-old who would love to be a spy one day. He has a terrific mind for analysis and details, enjoying when his Aunt Liv comes by to discuss cases with him. They even work small cases on their own when mysteries appear.
Noah knows what happened to Little Max and is more than willing to share that information, but he has one sizable roadblock: Noah has severe cerebral palsy. This means he is unable to communicate in an easy manner, relying on cues such as smiling for a yes answer or using the five-finger method of working through the alphabet with his sister. Consequently, Noah can only answer questions if he’s asked. But if they don’t know to ask him……..
As the story develops, the story gets too close to home for Liv, and Noah gets taken by Max’s kidnapper, placing both boys in mortal danger. Will Agent Bergen figure out the clues? Will Noah’s family pick up on the cues he’s trying to give them? Can both boys be returned safely to their respective families?
Overall, I really enjoyed the storyline, especially because of Noah, as I previously noted. As the parent of an adult with special needs, I see a lot of Noah in my older son, even though he doesn’t have CP like Noah does. Following an email exchange with the author, I now know some of the backstory which allowed her to give such detailed depth to Noah’s character, and it’s no surprise he is such a strong character.
My only beef about the book is the location of the kidnapper is just a little too convenient. Sure, it needed to be that way to move the storyline along in the direction the author wanted, but it felt a little forced. It also allowed me to figure out much of where the book was going at only 21% into the book (I read a digital edition, so I didn’t really pay attention to pages). However, none of that works as a spoiler for the story; it just weakens it somewhat.
That said, I would definitely recommend this book to others, and I have already acquired the first three books from Amazon so I can catch up on Agent Bergen’s past stories.
Ergo Sum Publishing was kind enough to make this eGalley available through NetGalley. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Bogdan Bogdanov is a genius. Don’t take my word for it; ask him. He tells you as much early in the story. He’s unmatched when it comes to bits and bytes and putting it all together, especially when it comes to recognizing patterns. Not only that, he’s able to translate that genius to work on the computer where he creates the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence: a self-aware and learning machine which will not only learn from its mistakes but learn to anticipate and, yes, even show emotions.
In this incarnation we find the title character of the book, Semmant. Created as an exercise by Bogdanov to develop a program which can make money from the markets, Semmant learns from his mistakes and anticipates shifts and slides. But along the way, Semmant becomes much more than that: he learns to feel and like anyone who is new at that, sometimes it interferes with his day-to-day routine. Yes, he even falls in love.
Told in Bogdanov’s voice, the story is, regardless of what the title of the book says, about him first and foremost. And therein lies my only problem with the book: I never really got to where I cared about the protagonist. Now, make no mistake about it, I really got to where I liked Semmant and Lidia, Boganov’s primary love interest. Well, when he wasn’t bouncing around local houses if ill-repute, that is. Their relationship was on-again off-again and so volatile I was expecting a “War Of The Roses” type of finale, which isn’t far from where it started to go.
This book was written in Russian initially, but translated to English for publication. Babenko knows his stuff when it comes to AI and technology, putting aside a career in that field to turn author. As a computer developer and proud geek myself, I would have liked to have seen more technological aspects in the book, but being a work of science fiction, I suppose he had the have some vagueness. Still, I really wanted to know more about Semmant, not Bogdanov.
The prose in the book was a bit flowery and heavy at times, making it hard to plow through, but it’s not poorly written. It just makes me wonder if, when doing the English translation, a correct word was chosen instead of the best word.
And I hope you’re not offended by sex. While it’s not in-your-face graphic, it’s a recurring theme throughout the book. No graphic acts or anything like that, but it’s very omnipresent.
Overall, I thought this was a well-written book, and I love the way the author approached the concept of a self-aware electronic entity. The only thing that keeps me from giving it a top rating is that I never really cared about the protagonist. Lots happens to him, good and bad, but it always seemed like we were just skimming the surface of why he was like he was, other than being a super-genius lacking social graces. I also would have liked to have seen much more go into the titular character.
Ten Speed Press was kind enough to make this eGalley available, through NetGalley, for the purposes of having it read and reviewed. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.
Me: “Hi, my name is Bert, and I’m a ramen addict.”
Group: “Hi, Bert!”
OK, I have to admit it’s really all noodles, especially Asian ones. I do regularly have a lunch comprised primarily of the 20 cent packs from Wal-Mart, although I only use a minuscule amount of the seasoning and invariably add vegetables, meat and different seasonings. No, it’s not the same as homemade noodles, but it’s the concept and versatility of the dish that I love.
So here I have a book about a Long Island Jew who is similarly addicted to good ramen, who went through culinary school, and, after some bouncing around between jobs and the death of his first wife, eventually remarried, moved to Japan and opened up a ramen shop. But he is doing ramen his way, infusing a little bit of his culture and creativity while still being true to the concept of ramen. Yeah, I’m probably pre-disposed to liking this book, I’ll admit it.
The first part of the book is comprised primarily of Orkin telling his story. It’s fascinating and heart-breaking and even funny. The foreward, contributed by Momofuku owner David Chang, is absolutely hilarious too. The book also lays the necessary foundation for understanding why Orkin started his own ramen shop and, ultimately, why he has been so successful. The bottom line is, he makes a bowl of ramen that he likes, above all else, believing others will too.
And he’s been wildly successful. So much so that following the success of his first shop, Ivan Ramen, he opened a second location in Tokyo, Ivan Ramen Plus. Orkin is also, as of the time he wrote this, in the process of opening a new location in New York City, where his family moved following the devastating earthquakes in Japan in 2011.
After that backstory, Orkin goes and does something completely against the grain: he gives detailed instructions on how he makes his signature dish, shio ramen. He discusses exactly how he makes it, what all the ingredients are, how to make those at home, and how to put it all together. Of course, you will probably have to tweak it some for a home kitchen, but it’s there in its totality. After that, Orkin gives you other recipes you can use the base ingredients for, just in case you don’t want ramen all the time (although I can’t understand why not :) ).
I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes, but I certainly can’t accuse him of not being up front with details. He even gives suggestions for substitutions in case you can’t find the exact ingredient stateside.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and it’s given me a new appreciation for what makes a good bowl of ramen. I can’t wait to dig into the recipes and then likewise dig into many bowls of ramen as I work on tweaking the recipe to my tastes.
Through NetGalley, I received from Random House Children’s Book a copy of this book for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.
This novel takes place in a post-World War III world, where “green bombs”, which are supposedly not as deadly as atomic bombs, have decimated the world. The remaining residue of the bombs have rendered all magnetic devices inoperable, and since most of the world was destroyed, the remaining clusters of people must start over from square one for the most part. Because of this, extreme value is placed on the ability to invent, and this process is crucial in the schooling of all children in the city and is encouraged among the adults too.
Most of this story takes place in White Rock, a city located in a crater created by one of the bombs and named after the limestone mines surrounding the city. As the city is a crater with only one pass in and out, it’s very secure from the outside world. Add to that security a layer of dangerous gases above the city, named Bomb’s Breath, which is fatal to anyone who breaths while in that layer. This keeps attackers from coming over the top of the surrounding mountains, as they would never know the layer was there, and they and any other animals with them, would be killed instantly.
Into this environment is thrown twelve year-old Hope Toriella. Her father died on their trek to White Rock and her mother died shortly after Hope’s birth. Hope is strong-willed, very athletic, determined, free-spirited and a natural leader. Oh and she can’t invent to save her life, making her the scorn of much of the city. This also affects her sense of self-worth. One of her skills, which she can only share with her best friends Aaren and Brock, is the ability to cliff dive through the Bomb’s Breath where timing of breathing is literally a matter of life and death. Naturally, if her adoptive parents found out about this hobby they wouldn’t react too kindly.
Things are plugging along for White Rock until one winter, after the pass has been closed for the winter and many of the city’s young men have been sent to a neighboring city on the plains, one without mountains and a Bomb’s Breath to protect them. Bandits manage to find a way into White Rock and, after shooting in the leg Hope’s father, who had stood up as the town’s leader to protect the real elderly leader, demand all of the city’s antibiotics. Not only that, but the medicine must be created and delivered within two days or the bandits will kill most of the city.
In order to save her father and the rest of the city, Hope, Brock, Aaren and, without their knowledge until it’s too late, Aaren’s five year-old sister Brenna, must make a trek through the Bomb’s Breath, to the top of the mountain, then back down the other side through the Bomb’s Breath again, all in an effort to get to the city where their guard is stationed. Their hope is to bring them back in order to repel the bandits and save the city. Oh yeah, this is in the middle of the worst blizzard in recent memory.
Will they make it there and back in time? Can they manage the trek during the blizzard? How will a five year-old manage the trip when they don’t have enough snowshoes for everyone and the others must take turns carrying her? Can they know exactly where the Bomb’s Breath begin and ends while travelling during a blizzard?
This story has plenty of drama and twists and turns, and I really enjoyed it. The Random House Children’s Books website says this book is for eight to twelve year-olds, and that feels about right. There’s very little outright violence, which is sanitized, and death is talked about as a possibility and in an after-the-fact sort of way. There are even slight hints at romance, but not too much considering the ages of the characters.
Eddleman has solid character development for a first-time novelist, leading you to really care about the protagonists and despise the antagonists. This is the first book in this series, and I’m sure it will be successful, as will the follow-up books.
When I read children’s or young adult books, something I really look for, especially as a parent, is whether or not the books teach as well as entertain. In that regard, Eddleman is very successful. In this post World War III world where electrical or magnetic devices are unusable and steel has been weakened by the green bombs, the residents must be creative in how they adapt and re-create what existed prior to WW III, often times in much different ways. This can be demonstrated in how they tackle refrigeration, clocks, antibiotics, farm tools, transport systems, and even a farm implement being re-purposed as a weapon such as a bola.
I definitely recommend this book for children in the recommended age range. But I also believe it could be of interest to young adults and adults.
Many thanks to Perseus Books Group / Da Capo Press for providing this eGalley to me through NetGalley. Although it was provided at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have my maternal grandmother and her husband work in the tourism industry in Williamsburg, Virginia. I got an early exposure to colonial America to go along with my always strong love of history in general. Naturally, I have also been interested in the happenings in Salem, Massachusetts, knowing it can be very difficult to separate fact from fiction from urban legend.
Enter this wonderful book by Marilynne K. Roach. It should be noted before beginning that this is not Roach’s first rodeo when it comes to scholarly work on the Salem witch trials. She’s well-respected in that area as a quick Google search will reveal.
That said, what Roach brings to the table with this offering is humanization of the accused as well as providing a smaller scope of the trials. Rather than looking at the trials in a larger overview, she takes six women accused of being witches and gets into extraordinary detail about their lives. With each woman, she digs into their family, genealogy and the events surrounding the accusations against them and subsequent trial.
This works very well to humanize the accused, as you can see them as individual persons, not just numbers or statistics. Additionally, Roach makes an effort to get into each woman’s head to try and see the happenings through their eyes. This further brings the subject to a more personal level.
The only downside of the book is that it does get tedious at times. It took me a bit before I really got rolling, once I finished the first woman’s story. Then I got into a flow with the remaining stories. But considering this is first and foremost a scholarly / academic work, not a piece of fiction, I am perfectly willing to sacrifice a fun read for a historically accurate read. In that, Roach is outstanding.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in history, be it Colonial America, women’s studies, witchcraft, law, whatever. It certainly seems to be very well done.
Via NetGalley, DarkFuse was kind enough to provide a copy of this book for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. While it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review. It should also be noted this review is on an advanced copy of the book, which is not scheduled for publication until later in September.
This is the story of a dystopian world, presumably in a parallel universe as there are dates and events with a correlation to actual timelines. In this world, there are three evils gods, Naz Yaah, Segoth and Gatur, who are worshiped even though they rain down unspeakable horrors on their followers. Those killed are presumed to have been offered as sacrifices, and anyone who questions their existence or otherwise doesn’t pull their own weight in society are likewise offered as “sacrifices” by a heavy-handed police force and the occasional freelancers.
The readers feel the presence of Segoth and Gatur the most. The former is a 200-foot zombie whose falling flesh further infects those it comes in contact with, and the latter is a green mist which cause all in its presence to turn homicidal to all those around them, even loved ones. Once the mist lifts, parents are often found to have killed their children, lovers have killed their significant others, and of course there is plenty of random violence against anyone who happens to be nearby.
Enter into this mess, which is primarily set in England, Dave, who is looking for his missing daughter Ashleigh, and Tom, her boyfriend of about 18 months. Both want to find her as it appears she has convinced herself, through a now-deceased author’s writings, the gods are not to be believed and are not the true gods. As such involvement would certainly lead to Ashleigh being “sacrificed”, the two men set across the country to locate her and bring her to safety before harm can come to her.
Along the way, the men both witness and commit unspeakable horrors to those around them, not to mention being on the receiving end themselves. Will they find Ashleigh in time? Is the mirror she’s looking for the salvation of mankind or something else? Is there a way to stop these evil gods?
I enjoyed this novel primarily because it had a bit of a Lovecraftian feel to it, especially with the pure evil of the gods. Even their names seem to be a nod to Mr. Lovecraft. The flow and action is almost constant, and the short chapters made this a very quick read. It does seem like there could be a bit more of a backstory, although enough is revealed at the end to give the reader a glimpse at the origin of the gods. It seems there could be more character development as the only one that really feels fleshed out (with apologies for the term due to the presence of a zombie-like god in the story) is Dave himself. Tom is in love with Ashleigh, but we really don’t learn that much about him. Ashleigh is also the focus of the men’s pursuit, but we know little of her other than her being a free-spirit who is committed to her cause. A little more depth in this area would have helped.
Via NetGalley, I was furnished a copy of this book by ECW Press for the purposes of reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.
Let me be completely honest: I love a good vampire story or flick. Yeah, I’m not too keen on the sparkly, angst-filled type, but for the most part I like everything else. Heck, when my twenty year-old was in NICU, I read several of the Fred Saberhagen vampire novels out loud to him.
I have several encyclopedias of vampiric lore, so I wasn’t sure what new material this book might present. I reality, it didn’t. However, it did do a wonderful job of encapsulating one specific subset of information, as the title suggests: how do you kill a vampire and who has been responsible for the grisly task throughout the centuries?
The author does a great job of listing the various methods of disposing of suspected vampires, as detailed in folklore, then making comparisons and contrasts with literature and film through the years.
She also includes a list of the most famous vampire slayers, noting their preferred method(s) of eliminating the undead, as well as why they are so well-known.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The author certainly has done her research, and this comes across as a scholarly offering with just the right amount of humor.
Through NetGalley, McGraw-Hill Professional was kind enough to share a copy of this eGalley for the purposes of my reading and reviewing it. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
While I typically review books that interest me in order to provide the publisher and author with an honest review from someone who is hopefully within their target market, I’ve yet to run across a review opportunity that was so perfectly timed.
You see, this is a book that helps high school students write the best possible college application essays, and here I sit with my younger son a high school junior with incredible college potential (he wants to go to med school and is more than capable). So not only do I get to review the book, but I get a great opportunity to see if this is something I would like to get in print format for my son.
That answer, by the way, is a resounding yes.
I have always been a proponent of empowering our children, and I’ve been even more adamant about that following the death of my wife two years ago. Since I don’t know when my time will come, my boys have to be as prepared for life as possible.
One of things I really like about this book is Barash expects parents to be almost completely hands-off in the process. Encourage. Offer suggestions when asked, and only when asked. But under no circumstances fix the writing, not even a comma. Once you start doing that, it’s a slippery slope toward the parent being the author instead of the child. And if our children are going to be independent in college, why not start now?
The most important thing is the story must be in your child’s voice. It may have flaws, it may have grammatical or spelling errors, but most of all it must be honest. Since the admission staff at colleges read hundreds if not thousands of these every year, it’s easy for them to spot a stilted essay that is trying to tell them what the author thinks they want to hear.
Scrap that. As a prospective college student, tell them the story you want to tell. Or better yet, the one you have to tell.
The vast majority of the book consists of exercises to assist the student in writing the best possible essay. Make no mistake about it, the book is intended as a companion to the Story To College website, with which Barash is also affiliated, but it does stand on its own. While I didn’t do all the exercises, as I didn’t want to have any pre-conceived notions of what my son might or might not want to write, I did skim through them to see what they were trying to accomplish, and I am impressed.
Bottom line is, if you have a student who has any interest in going to college, this book could be of great benefit to him or her. I will definitely be getting a print copy for my son.