Posts Tagged ‘ARC’

20
Dec

Book Review: “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - William Kamkwamba (Memoir)

The one thing I have to say about this book is: Everyone should read it.

Adults, children, teenagers, male or female. This book should be required reading in schools, universities, community groups, you name it…

The book itself is about William’s life as a young boy in Malawi, about his family’s life during a very bad famine year, and how William taught himself about physics and electricity and built a windmill to power his family’s radio. William’s efforts grew until he was noticed by a figure on the international stage, and who eventually introduced him to the right people until he received a scholarship to attend University.

The first amazing thing about this is that William, an unschooled, poverty-stricken boy from Africa, was able to rise against the odds and use his brilliant mind to make something of himself. It’s clear that William is an extremely skilled and talented man, and I’m so thankful that his story was brought to the world, for another reason…

The second amazing thing about this book is that William discusses famine and living through it as though it’s simply a part of life. He never sensationalizes, never gives off a ‘poor me’ or ‘woe was our family’ or ‘Africa is horrid’ vibe, nothing of the sort.

Instead, he tells his story in a matter of fact way, simply telling us what happened and what it was like, and honestly? It’s more vivid than those World Vision ads on TV. It’s more real than hearing from the media that ‘people are starving in Africa’. Want to understand what that really means? See through William’s eyes what happens to a person’s body when there’s no food… how it bloats until the skin is like putty, how people simply dropped dead on the roads as they walked half a mile to try and get some rations, how the President of Malawi denied that anything was wrong and refused to let food and aid supplies into the country, how a family of six can live on only a fistful’s worth – total – of food per day, and sometimes less…

After I read William’s story, I was compelled to pass the book on to the rest of my family.
We who live in first-world countries can never truly understand what it means to starve until we’ve either experienced it first hand, or seen it with clear vision through the eyes of someone who actually lived it and survived.

William’s story will change the way you look at the world. It’ll pull at your heart and you may find yourself crying out for change, for some way to help these people, and you may ache to do something – anything – to help. There are so many children all over the globe who have so much to offer the world, just like William, but if conditions remain the same… frankly, they’ll all die (and already are) and the world will continue to lose brilliant minds to a thing as stupid and senseless as hunger.

Again, I implore you, read this book. There’s also a website in conjunction with the book where William talks about how he came up with the idea to build the windmill and other sorts of things, and I encourage you to view those as well.

This is Willliam’s story, and it’s worth hearing.

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7
Dec

Book Review: ‘Love and Respect’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs – Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Two years ago, before I was married, I read this same book by Dr. Eggerichs. At the time, I thought ‘well, this sounds reasonable’, and continued along my merry way after closing the front cover. I remember now that, at the time I’d picked the book up at the store, a woman mentioned to me ‘this book saved my marriage, honestly… pay attention and you won’t regret it’. Reading it through for a second time, after being married for a year and a half? Dr. Eggerichs has it right.

Women need love, and men need respect. Both are mutually inclusive, because when a woman receives love she feels respected, and when a man is respected, it’s a sign of love to him. Eliminate either love or respect, and couples start on what he terms ‘the Crazy Cycle’. How do you stop the crazy cycle? It’s all based on love and respect. Dr. Eggerich outlines what this means for both husbands and wives, what they can do to increase love and respect (and maintain it!), and how to prevent getting back on the Crazy Cycle in the future.

Whether you’re dating, engaged, or married for any length of time, the Dr. speaks the truth… and it’s worth a listen!

I received this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program.

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23
Nov

Book Review: ‘Hush Hush’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Hush Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick (YA)

Becca Fitzpatrick has done an excellent job of cornering the teen market in her novel, ‘Hush Hush’. It provides the romance of Twilight, the urban edge of City of Bones, and a unique kind of characterization that we don’t often see these days: an independent female protagonist who questions herself, and doesn’t simply give into her emotions. She’s stubborn, determined, and cautious — and our male MC, Patch, is mysterious enough to keep you turning the pages long after everyone else in the house has gone to bed.

I was fortunate enough to be able to read this as an ARC through the First Look program at B&N, and I hear there’s an alternate ending which we didn’t get in our version. And you know what? I enjoyed the book enough to go out and buy a copy, to support this new author’s work. I can’t wait to read more from her… if you have someone in your life who enjoys YA — or if you do, yourself — do yourself a favor and pick this one up!

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Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense and Sensibility – Marielle Guiliano (Business)

For a woman entering the business world, it can be a tough slog to figure out the balance between being yourself – ie. a female – and maintaining a tough, can-do attitude in the workplace. Guiliano’s book looks at woman and their place on the corporate ladder, covering everything from your first interviews to being a good, no-nonsense female boss that is still liked by her employees.

For many years, Guiliano worked as the North American head of Veuve Clicquot, a high-end champagne company, and she draws on her experiences in this book, presenting women with anecdotes, advice, and hints on how to achieve success in the business world without compromising things like friends, family, and the pleasures in life that bring you happiness.

While I’m not a corporate businesswoman, nor do I have any interest in a business career, any woman at any stage of her life (or career!) could benefit at some level from Guiliano’s advice – I found it refreshing to read a business book from a woman who refuses to compromise her own happiness at the expense of her career, but who also refuses to give up her career simply because being a female executive is difficult and requires sacrifice.

Guiliano recommends facing challenges head-on, maximizing the opportunities for happiness and pleasure in your life, and getting ahead without losing sight of what’s really important to you.

I may not be a businesswoman, but I certainly came away from this book feeling encouraged, challenged, and grateful for the time spent reading it.

(Galley courtesy of Atria Books)

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23
Oct

Book Review: ‘The Deadline Murders’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

I’ve really got to stop doing this. “Doing what?” you ask. Well, I admit: I tend to judge books by their covers. And their weight. And publisher. And back cover copy. Arrrgh. But, but, but… who doesn’t? Is there anyone who literally doesn’t judge books on first glance/touch?

I received a copy of The Deadline Murders through LibraryThing’s Member Giveaway program. It came with a letter from the publisher, a couple of promo pages for additional books by the author, and a personalized autograph on the front page. This was good marketing, I thought, but what of the book itself? It didn’t have that ‘professional’ feel. It didn’t have that ‘professional’ look (though it looked much, much better than many small pub novels). I liked the image on the cover, but the title font stopped me. I also couldn’t believe the blurb on the front — an endorsement from Piers Morgan? Seriously? What the…?

I set the book aside. For months. Finally, I gave in and decided to fulfill my commitment to the author, and review his work. I didn’t expect to like it, and for the first 50 pages or so, I was rather bored.

But that was just for the first 50 pages. Surprisingly, around there, things started to pick up. I didn’t hate the main character quite so much (she seemed really pretentious, too pretentious to be likable at first), and the banter between the female and male leads became entertaining. The story itself picked up, and I spent the rest of an evening devouring the rest of the book.

To boil it down, The Deadline Murders is a mystery novel without the fancy technology, gore, or sex of many mystery novels out there today. This was a mystery for entertainment’s sake — not quite old fashioned, but more adventure-oriented than anything else. Of course the resolution was too simple in the end, but we sure have a lot of fun getting there, and it’s not so disappointing that you’re upset with the author. Let’s be honest — the book is meant to be a fun escape, and it is.

I finished this book with a smile, and have thus resolved to track down the rest of this author’s books. I’m happy to see that they’re available at Amazon.ca (1-3 weeks shipping, since I assume they’re brought in from the UK) and I’m thrilled to have found a new author from a non-traditional publisher.

Here’s the product description from Riverheron‘s website listing for the novel:

HENRIETTA FOX is a paparazzo. A wild, flame-haired girl in biker’s boots and leathers, with an Irish temper. She rides the streets of London stalking celebrities for the tabloid gossip pages.
When a Chinese military plane explodes in a fireball before her camera, life for Henrietta Fox gets dangerous! Five reporters across Europe have been murdered, each with their exotic, lop-eared Sumxu cats. Animals considered extinct for 300 years. Only Henrietta Fox knows why – and that knowledge could kill her.
To survive she must pursue a madman across China with partner CASS FARRADAY, an ex-Repton public schoolboy turned tabloid reporter with a devious line in interviews.
Only they can prevent an Armageddon assault on Britain’s Air Traffic Control. Fail and half a million lives will be lost.

Sounds cheesy, yes? Good. Definitely recommended. :)

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29
Sep

Book Review: ‘Homer’s Odyssey’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Homer’s Odyssey – Gwen Cooper (Memoir/Animals)

Yes, it’s another animal memoir book. Yes, you’ll laugh, cry, groan, smile, and sniffle all the way through. But before you sigh and say “I can’t handle it, I know what happens at the end of animal memoirs”, let me forewarn you – and I really don’t consider this a spoiler – that the cat doesn’t die at the end. That’s right, she wrote the memoir while the animal was/is still alive, and thus ends the tale without a final death scene. Happy? I was.

So now that we’ve eliminated that fear, how about the book? Wow. Yes, wow. A young woman adopts a blind (actually, eyeless) kitten that no one else wants… and it turns out to be the most intelligent, active, curious, life-loving cat I’ve ever heard of. This cat took daring leaps from the tops of furniture, loved to roughhouse with other cats and humans, hunted flies by sound (and *always* caught them), and in general, was an incredible testament to how an animal can overcome what we might see as a disability and thrive through it.

Throughout the course of the memoir, I was struck by how vibrant and full of life this little blind cat was. He never knew what it meant to see, and yet that didn’t slow him down even a tiny bit… his world was what it was, and he loved it.

It comes down to this: If a little creature like a blind kitten can take what he’s given in life and make the most of it – love, live, and thrive – what can’t we, as humans do with what life doles out to us?

Because I’m not sure whether my description does the book justice, here’s the product description from the Amazon.ca webpage:

Product Description
Once in nine lives,
something extraordinary happens…

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever,” never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.

But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.”

Rating: 5 out of 5

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22
Sep

Book Review: “The Rapture: A Novel”

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

I have avoided reviewing this book for a reason… and not because it’s bad. Nope, it’s extremely well written. It’s compelling, captivating, and will make you lose sleep at night… but at the same time, the subject matter is disturbing, slightly horrifying, and might make you lose sleep at night for an entirely different reason. This book had such a profound effect on me that I simply didn’t want to revisit it in any way… even through a review.

First, the plot. We have a disturbed teen in a psych ward who spouts prophetic words, predicting natural disasters before they happen (or does she?). We have a young psychologist who is assigned to the teen’s case, and who slowly but surely begins to believe that the teen’s crazy ramblings are, indeed, predictions about upcoming events (for a more in-depth plot summary, I suggest you visit the Amazon.com page and read the synopsis there… I don’t want to give away too much, in case you’re the kind of person who prefers to just jump in without knowing piles of plot details, especially with this kind of book!).

I’ll admit it: I have a crippling fear of severe, uncontrollable weather phenomena… which made this a, well, rather poor choice of book to read. Heh. As the predictions begin to come true (not a spoiler, you know this is going to happen), we’re treated to detailed, sense-tingling descriptions of how the weather affects the places that it hits. Tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, whatever… I don’t even recall which ones are in the book or not… but the author is so skilled that you’ll be able to close your eyes and feel like you’re truly there in the midst of it all.

Combine this with questions about the apocalypse, the book of Revelation and tribulation, and some incredibly flawed people (the characters are very well drawn), and you have a novel that not only entertains, but makes you think… and shudder… and ask questions… and if you’re someone like me, you put the book down, try to walk away, but it won’t let go. I was so shaken by the book that for the rest of the evening, I would randomly begin weeping, crying for no apparent reason other than the profound sense of darkness and foreboding that crept across my soul when I closed the last page.

My husband and I went for a walk to try and clear my head, but being outside simply made it worse. I felt like, at any moment, the whole world could collapse in on itself. I tried to describe it using words like “doom” and “pervading negativity”, but that doesn’t really do justice to what I felt. In the end, in order to chase away the disturbance from the novel, my husband sat me down on the couch and insisted that I play a fun, light-hearted video game, which was chased by chocolate and a comedy film.

I was much better after this. However, the experience of this book and how I felt afterward has been enough to keep me from discussing it further with others (beyond some initial impressions) or reviewing it here.

It was an excellent novel. I believe it’s already been optioned for a film, too. However, it was so vivid – and the questions posed, so real – that I want nothing further to do with it. It cut to the deepest root of my fears – uncontrollable weather, and the obscurity of what “End Times” really means – and it makes me wonder… is that a good thing? I’m not sure. Given the choice to go back in time, would I make the same choice and read it again? I really don’t know.

But like I said… it truly is an excellent novel. Whether or not it’s the kind of experience you want to take with you is another thing entirely.

Rating: …I’m going to skip the rating on this one… for the above reasons.

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Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones (Children’s Fiction)

This was the first book I’ve ever read by Wynne Jones, and I can gladly say that it won’t be the last. That doesn’t mean I loved the book, however… in fact, I found that it dragged in a few places, and I had a hard time liking the main characters at first. After awhile, they grew on me, and I finished the book thinking “that was pretty good, I’d like another, please” – so I’ll give her another go and see how it is. I might even track down the film that was made based on this book…  I hear it’s actually quite good!

Rating: 3 coffees out of 5

Stupid American History – Leland Gregory (History/Humor)

I received this book through the LT Early Reviewer’s program, and… well… at least it wasn’t a lengthy read. At best, it’s bathroom reading material, but beyond that…? The humor isn’t all that funny, and the “stupid history” anecdotes aren’t always stupid. It was mediocre, mildly entertaining at times, and thoroughly frustrating to someone who is used to reading books that actually reference their source material.

Yes, that’s right. Gregory provides absolutely zero references for his ‘history’ book, which – even in a popular history, bite-sized information style book – is incomprehensible, not to mention just plain sloppy and ignorant. Even the Uncle Joe’s Bathroom Reader series provides references for most of the material in it. If you don’t source, how can we know that you’re telling us the truth? What if someone wants to read more about a certain ‘historical anecdote’, how will they know where to start looking for the so-called ‘truth’ that Gregory reveals?

That – plus a completely illogical way of organizing the anecdotes (ie. there was no organization) – made this ER book more frustrating than fun. Stupid American History is right.

Rating: 1.5 coffees out of 5

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