Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs - Andrew Rolston

                Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs is a bit of a misleading title. It somewhat suggest that this will be a sci-fi or supernatural book. Even the cover, which I loved and really catches the eye, looks like something from the science fiction genre. However, this has nothing to do with aliens or biotoxic bulldogs. In fact, I’m not at all sure exactly which genre I would place it in. I think it’s aimed at younger teenagers because the main character, Beetle, is in grade eight even though he is two years older than his classmates. But some of the content gave me mixed feelings about which age group I would want reading this book. I don’t mind the subject of wet dreams and such but the description of Beetle’s dreams went a bit too far. Also, there’s a very long section about taking a lie detector test and some of the questions were entirely inappropriate. Bullying and racism is also addressed but in such a way that it was quite uncomfortable to read. As for vocabulary, I’m pretty sure that there are very few young people, or even adults, who would know the meaning of the word micturition. Then again, urinating into Beetle’s mouth was an unnecessary aspect of the bullying storyline, in my opinion.
                In regards to character development, Beetle is quite well developed. I can picture him as your average teenager who is reaching the cusp of becoming an adult but still with the immaturity of a child. It’s everything and everyone surrounding him that leaves a lot to be desired with regards to dimensionality of character. Little facts, lots of them, are just far too unbelievable to be ignored. A limo taking a student to a school so that he can do after school janitorial work? A beating so severe that blood is flowing down a child’s face but minutes later the adults take no notice of anything but the smell of urine and the fact that the child is wet? The writing just didn’t flow like it should and the transition from one scene to another wasn’t smooth and often didn’t make sense.
                On the positive side, I can see this becoming a funny movie aimed at the younger generations. There is lots of humour and some really great parts. It also addresses many of the issues young people face today. If some parts were tweaked just a bit this would be a great book. The bones of a funny and entertaining novel are here, they just need some work.

                I read this in digital format on my ereader and it worked well. The cover, as I previously wrote, is fantastic.

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Assignment - Geraldine Solon

           The Assignment is not the average bodice-ripping, flowery romance novel. Rather it is a touching love story that manages to tell the story of not one, but two couples, who battle life issues so that they can be together. The author doesn’t use sex to draw the reader in but instead creates a story that intertwines all of the characters into one story. The two couples, Sophie and Eric, Marina and Yakoda, have parallel love stories although one is set in the 40s during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the other one is set in the 80s. The setting for both is very richly written by Ms. Solon and it shows the great knowledge and love for the Filipino culture that she so obviously has. I loved the inside look at the food of this land and how family plays such an important part of their everyday life. I learned more about this world from this book than I ever thought I would learn from reading a romance. There’s also quite a bit written about the political unrest in the Philippines during the 80s. It’s not a historical text by any means but it is quite factual and makes for very interesting reading. It was really nice to read a romance that wasn’t just a load of flowery prose and “fluffy” characters.
                The characters are very well written and each had multifaceted personalities. Marina, for me, was the most interesting and showed the most realism. Her story, set in the 40s, was by far my favourite of the two love stories. The way Marina and Yakoda met and the tragedy of their story really tugs at your heart strings. The beauty of Ms. Solon’s writing really makes the reader experience the fear that Marina and her family must have felt during the occupation and the fact that she still found love is made believable by the author’s talent at story telling.             
                Sophie is the main character and the hinted at secret that is eventually revealed in the end is actually quite easily guessed long before the reveal. There are a few hints throughout the book and I don’t know whether they were planted on purpose or just coincidence but when you look back you realize it was very obvious.
                This is a sweet love story that turned out to be much better than I originally thought. It is a very good way to spend a summer afternoon. The cover is attractive but I have to admit that it was the title that drew me to the book. I read it on my ereader and it formatted well.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Social Media - David Kelly



Social Media: Strategies to Mastering Your Brand Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat is a short book (156 pages in digital format) filled with tons of information. There is so much information that it really should be overwhelming but due to a free-flowing style of writing  it is easy and fast to read. It’s the type of book that a business owner should have on hand so that they can use it as a reference in dealing with their social media business lives. It’s set up in such a manner that finding information about certain media platforms, such as Facebook, can be done easily and in a timely manner.
                Mr. Kelly starts the book by writing about the importance of using social media for businesses in order to be successful in today’s market. Whether we like it or not, social media is now a huge part of how a business can market their service or product and that is not going to change. I found it very interesting when the author said that being present on social media in order to promote your business involves 20% promoting the business and 80% interacting with others which will get your name out there. If you think about it, this is so true and makes complete sense.
                Mr. Kelly then presents, chapter by chapter, how to use the main social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Each chapter is set up in the same easy to read format that tells the reader, step by step, how to use each platform to promote a business. The author points out that the best messages, in regards to having your business be memorable are short and to the point. Most people are visual so including pictures is important also. As I wrote above, there is so much information and helpful hints such as these above that after reading this book it should be much easier to bring your business into the social media world. I’m not great with Twitter as trying to put what I want to say into 140 characters drives me crazy but here, in this book, Mr. Kelly gives some examples which help the reader to see how other businesses have achieved success in this way.
                I love books about advertising and reading about how different companies subtly draw customers in. This is a perfect book for anyone trying to grab a piece of the social media market and has made me look at the advertising on my Facebook in a much different way. The writing style is excellent and this is a really great read.
                I read this in a digital format and translated to my ereader well. The cover is brightly coloured and interesting to look at. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Secret of Being Together - Amos Tsur, Tsafy Tsur

                The Secret of Being Together is an in-depth look at a unique form of couples therapy provided by two therapists who are a couple themselves. The book highlights some of the couples they have worked with, telling their stories, how they helped them, and the results of the therapy. The couple also provides some questions for the reader to ask themselves about their own relationships. The book addresses everything from sex addiction to empty nest syndrome to sadomasochism and much more.  Interestingly, there’s also a chapter for those who decide that they don’t want to be in a relationship. Rather they want to “marry” themselves. As strange as it sounds, after reading the chapter it makes sense. The authors write about how, within this marriage to yourself, there is a man part, a woman part, and they must get along with each other for there to be harmony in the “relationship” with yourself. The reader may or may not agree with this but it does make for fascinating reading and result in the reader asking themselves some questions about their own relationships.
                I love studying people and what makes them tick. This is not a normal couple’s therapy manual. It is more so a look inside the relationships of a variety of couples and how they interact with each other and the therapists. The therapists use a lot of the technique of closing your eyes and letting your subconscious take over, supplying you with the answer via imagery. I’m not all together sure how much of this concept I believe in but I can see how it would work for some people. It certainly seems to work for these couples in the book. One of the things I liked that the authors write in the book is that there are three parts to a relationship: you and your partner but also the relationship itself. All have to be nurtured and in harmony for a successful future together.
                At the end of the book is a list of recommended reading and a couple of the books are ones which I have read and can attest to being very good. If you’re looking for a self-help manual for relationship problems then this is probably not the book for you. However, if you’re interested in how humans think and how therapy affects them, then this is fascinating.

                I read this on my ereader and it formatted well. The cover wasn’t particularly eye catching but in this case, it’s the information that is most important.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Captivity of Choice - William R. Herr



                The Captivity of Choice is the second book in William R. Herr’s Broken Throne series that is set in a fantasy world where young girls become strong warriors, prophets can change the world, and the shadows hold all sorts of untold evil. I hadn’t read the first book in the series and, although sometimes you can get away without reading the previous books in a series, in this case I think it would be quite beneficial to do so. Trying to figure out what was going on, the past history, and character relationships really took away from my enjoyment of the story. Nothing is explained about this world in this book so for the first going off the pace was quite slow for me. After I read a bit and found my footing in regards to the back story (google helps wonders when I looked up book one), I found myself enjoying the book much more. It is very “battle-centered” and much of it revolves around the lives of some of the soldiers and there are lots of logistics about how battles will go down. I don’t really understand a whole lot of that sort of thing. There is romance but not in the traditional bodice-ripping sense. Instead, the love story between Gidon and Kira is more in-depth and their relationship is quite intricate and somewhat forbidden. It is just this that makes the love story more realistic than most because it’s not all about lust. Gidon and Kira actually respect each other which makes their positions in the army all the more difficult. 
                There is also another part to the book that involves a prophet named Malachi. I found this part to be much less interesting that Kira and Gidon but that’s probably because I became quite invested in those two characters and wanted to keep getting back to them.
                Mr. Herr’s writing style is quite unique. It’s not the easiest to read and although there is flow to it, it does get quite dark at times. In other words, this is by no means a “feel good” novel. It is quite challenging at times but if you stick with it then you’ll be rewarded with a detailed world and fantastic story. It’s not a book for everyone but dark fantasy lovers will probably be delighted by this book and the rest of the series.
                I read this in digital format and it translated from print to ereader well. I can’t say the cover did a whole lot to entice me but it does follow the style of most dark fantasy novels.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Love, Murder and Mayhem - Russ Colchamiro



                Love, Murder and Mayhem is a fifteen story collection filled with superheroes, sci-fi action and lots of humour. This anthology was a refreshing surprise for me because I’m not usually a fan of science fiction or superhero stories and yet I thoroughly enjoyed reading these delightful little gems. There isn’t one that I can single out as having not been enjoyable and it’s very hard to choose one that would be my favourite. Super Mom’s Cookie Caper is a cozy little story about a superhero mom trying to keep her identity hidden from her children. As Time Goes By is funny in its own strange and devilish way and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the maĆ®tre d’ be brought down a few pegs. All of the stories involve, as the title implies, a bit of romance, a tidbit of murder, and best of all, lots of great humour. All of the authors are incredibly talented and at the end of the book there is a bunch of mini-biographies about each author. I’ll be sure to check out some of the other books written by these authors and I love when an anthology provides these bits of information for the reader. The most unique story in the collection was written by Glenn Hauman, called Make It Didn’t Happen, in which Kelly’s future self is quite deranged and has the ability to travel through time. Imagine how you would stop yourself from being a future murderer.
                This collection is perfect for that easy vacation read where you just want to be amused and not read anything too deep. This wonderful anthology of talented authors makes this book an easy choice to make.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Power Pressure Cooker XL Cookbook - Vanessa Olsen



                I am not a lover of pressure cookers. My earliest memory of them is as a kid and every Sunday the evening meal would be cooked using a loud and dangerous stove top pressure cooker. The food would have no colour and definitely no taste. My father warned us to never touch or go near it because it could go off like a bomb if we raised the lid. I saw this book and just had to take a look because I couldn’t believe that there could possibly be two-hundred recipes for one of these horrid machines. After reading this recipe book, Ms. Olsen has changed my mind about pressure cooking and I think I may be purchasing one like is used in the book in the near future.                           
                This book is based on the Power Pressure Cooker XL which, where I live, is $120 and that is probably a higher price because things are quite expensive here. The author does provide information about how to gear the recipe towards other types of pressure cookers if you don’t own this particular kind. There are recipes for everything in this book, from breakfast to snacks, and it’s quite unbelievable that so many things can come from this piece of equipment. I took a week to try some of the recipes that caught my eye using a stovetop pressure cooker and, I have to say, they turned out quite well. There is a lemon poppy seed cake recipe that tastes just like my husband’s grandmother’s cake. I also made a huge pot of clam chowder that was to die for.  There were some recipes that didn’t turn out so well but I think that was due to my own mistakes and not the recipe itself. Boiling eggs is not something I will be using the cooker for since I never found that they came out the way I wanted them to.
                Ms. Olsen starts the book with a history of the pressure cooker which is actually quite interesting. I never imagined that it has been around for as long as it has been. She then gives lots of information about how to use this type of pressure cooker and it was very helpful. At first I thought the whole book was very much like an infomercial but it is so well set up and easy to use that I quickly fell in love with the book. The recipes are easy to read and understand and the step-by-step process makes them easy to carry out. There is something for everyone here and this is a great book to have, especially if you’re not comfortable with pressure cookers. I do wish there were pictures which, for me, are key to a cook book but overall, this is a great book to add to my collection.
                I read it on my ereader and it formatted perfectly. The cover relates to the topic and draws the eye. Excellent!

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Hand-The Mirror of the Soul - Talma Brill



                I’ve always been interested in things that can supposedly predict the future, even if I don’t always believe in the predictions. We all want to know the good things about our future and hope nothing bad is predicted. When I was younger, a “palm reader” said my life line was very short so I needed to be very cautious about things. That was the end of palm reading for me. Then I saw this book, The Hand, written by Talma Brill, who has been a chirologist (hand reader) for over thirty years. This lady knows what she is talking about and manages to write a 432 page book about reading the hand and makes it all very interesting. The style of writing is one I found perfect for this type of book. There’s a lot of information and Ms. Brill sets the book up in an easy to read manner that makes it easy to retain the information that has been read. There are four parts to the book plus a forward. I usually skim the forward but in this case I recommend not skipping any of it.
The first thing I read that I found interesting was that the lines of your palm can change over time. The author writes about each line and the difference between the right and left hand. The information (and there is a lot of it) is fascinating. There are helpful illustrations throughout the book that help the reader to understand what the author is referring to in the information. For example, when talking about a square palm and the characteristics of a person having one, there is a picture so that the reader can identify exactly what that would look like. By the way, most of the information is dead on. A square hand (not including the fingers) means the person is rational and wants order in their life. That pretty much describes me to a T.
                The author also includes studies done on people with schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies, and psychiatric patients, among others, and what their hands look like in comparison with their mental health issues. It is extremely fascinating to read these studies and learn just how much can be told by looking at a person’s hand. At the end of the book is a list of recommended reading provided by the author that looks quite interesting.
I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about reading such a large book about something I didn’t really believe in but this whole book was entertaining to read and filled with an incredible amount of information. It’s a wonderful read!
I read this on my ereader and it formatted perfectly. The cover is eye-catching and pertains very well to the book.