Posts Tagged ‘books’


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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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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Book Review: ‘Land of Elyon’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

The Land of Elyon Book 2: Beyond the Valley of Thorns – Patrick Carman
The Land of Elyon Book 3: The Tenth City – Patrick Carman
The Land of Elyon Prequel/Book 4: Into the Mist – Patrick Carman (all Children’s Fiction)

Several years have passed since I read the first book in this series, and for whatever reason at the time, I never got around to reading the rest of the books… which made absolutely no sense, since I loved the first book. Last week, I made up my mind to just go for it and “git ‘er done”. Well, I still have one book to go, but in the meantime, what were these three like?

I have to say, I truly believe Patrick Carman is one of the new masters of worldbuilding. After recently reading the first two books in his Atherton series for older readers, and then coming back to this series, it’s clear to see that Carman has a gift for creating unique worlds that make sense. He weaves geography, cultural differences, politics, and economics into his worlds, which is quite the feat, considering the age level these books are targeted toward and the shorter length of his books (compared to, say, other children’s fantasies).

The main character of this series is a young girl – twelve or thirteen, I believe – and I was surprised how well this male author portrayed a girl of this age! Then I learned that he has two daughters of his own, and it made sense. He writes strong female leads who are true to their age.

And as for the story itself? The first three books in the series continue along the same path, though books two and three are more directly linked (ie. don’t finish book two without book 3 in hand!) and keep the action continually moving. The fourth book, or the prequel, can be read separately from the rest of the series… however, reading it fourth sets the stage for the fifth book (technically book 4 in the series, but I count the prequel as book 4 because it comes between 3 and 4 (er, 5) chronologically but not really… confused yet?). The prequel features the main characters from the previous books as they listen to the main thread of the book, which is told in the form of a story being related from memory by one of the characters. The final page in the prequel/not-a-prequel ends the storytelling and the main characters have arrived at their destination to begin the next book. Make sense?

Final verdict: read the books in the order they were written. 1,2,3,Prequel/4, Real book 4. They’re short, exciting, fun, and very well done. Highly recommended!

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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 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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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 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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Where Am I Now?

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

It’s mid-September, 2009. How did we get here so fast? Another summer zipped by, and another fall is well on its way… and what do I have to show for it?

Well, not much. Or at least I feel it’s not much, but here’s where I stand in terms of WIPs and so forth:

  • A Work in Progress (2007) – First Draft complete, currently under second read-through.
  • The Door in the Wall (2008) – First Draft complete (minus a few paragraphs at the end), currently under first read-through.

Yikes. That’s a lot of work… the 2008 manuscript needs a lot more work before it’s coherent in any way, and I feel the 2007 novel is much, much closer to being ready than it was a year ago. Lots of edits still to do, but progress is progress. The frustrating part is that I want to be able to devote myself to new stories, and I wish these ones would just be done & get out of the way for awhile. But, that’s not how we writers do things, is it? :) Baby steps, baby steps.

In the meantime, I’m trying to:

  • Plot my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel.
  • Think about which novel to write as part of a course I’m taking (more on that sometime soon).
  • Do the work for above mentioned course.
  • Finish my cat care ebook.
  • Finish edits on an inspirational booklet for a client.
  • Learn my way around in my new volunteer editor position for an online flash fiction magazine (more on that another time too!).
  • Find more work that I can actually be paid for!

This comes in the midst of teaching 2 dance classes a week, taking an additional 3 dance classes for myself (two of which are performance troupes), trying to read & review all the ARCs that keep showing up in my mailbox, maintaining this blog, editing the blog for Lifeline, keeping my friends (haha), caring for a cat/bird/husband & all associated things that come with a marriage and household. Ah, and I have an application in to be this year’s NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for my region (which I should hear back about within the next week).

It’s a lot. I probably missed something in there, but that’s that, and now it’s documented… so people can bug me about getting my work done! I figured, it’s been awhile since I updated everyone on what I’m doing, so there you have it! Apologies if it came off as whiny… not my intention :)

And to all of you who have huge projects you’re dealing with, or many little ones you’re trying to juggle, I wish you all the best in the coming months. Autumn is a beautiful season (my favorite, actually), but is it ever busy… yet somehow, I look forward to it every year. Good luck with whatever you’re doing! And if you’re really excited about it, please go ahead and share it with us in the comment section!

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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi (Children’s Fiction/YA)

I read this based on the recommendation of a friend (and because I found it for $0.25 at the book sale), and am very glad I listened to her. In fact, she’s the same one who told me to read Catherine, Called Birdy at the beginning of the year. If I track down I Capture the Castle and get that one out of the way, I’ll have completed the circuit of her “highest YA recommendations”. Huzzah!

But anyway, back to the book. Despite not being too sure about it when I picked it up, it turned out to be an enjoyable read with a strong female lead who I really liked. Her transformation from a timid, well-bred society girl to a courageous young woman was very well done, and I liked how things turned out at the end – not quite the way I expected, and yet it was just right. Definitely recommended.

Rating: 4 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: ‘Fearless’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

It’s release day for the new book from Max Lucado, ‘Fearless’. It’s no secret that Lucado is incredibly skilled at catering to people’s emotions, and he does it again in his latest release, which addresses the ‘culture of fear’ that society (specifically North American) has built up around them, regardless of whether they realize it or not. Bad economy, job losses, terrorist attacks, mortality, crime-laden news media reports… there’s more than enough fear to go around. But what if you could live your life without fear? Live fearlessly, relying on God’s strength in the face of things you can’t control?

Lucado weaves anecdotes in and around his statements on fear and living fearless, tugging on the heartstrings and provoking an emotional response. Some might say he manipulates emotions through the anecdotes he shares, but doesn’t every writer manipulate emotion in one way or another? At the very least, the book is timely and will likely be a beacon of hope for those struggling with job loss, uncertain financial futures, and so forth.

The book is a good reminder that we can’t control everything, and we wouldn’t want to. God is the only one who knows what’s going on, and He has promised the best for us… so why not stop being afraid and start trusting more?

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: ‘Gifts of War’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Gifts of War: A Novel – Mackenzie Ford (Historical Fiction)

When my Gifts of War ARC arrived in the mail, I wasn’t quite sure what to think… after reading the back cover copy, I thought “why the heck did I request THIS?”. Clearly the promo material for the book made it sound more exciting than what was written on the back cover. World War I? A man’s lost love? Another man & his quest to make a life with a certain woman during the war? *snooooooze* So, guess what I did? I put the book away & avoided it as long as I could. And I do mean as long as I could.

Finally, guilt got the better of me, and I picked it up. “Why are you reading that?” my husband asked, “Read something you’ll like, don’t waste your time.” But I had an obligation to fulfill, so I read it. And you know what? Even though it wasn’t my favorite kind of book, it kept me reading, and that has to say something.

On the whole, I didn’t really like the ending, but it made sense when I read the last page… the very last page, which changed everything for me. I don’t want to give it away, but that final page – as a writer and as a reader – made me gasp and say “Oh! How fascinating!” and left me with a good, warm feeling toward the book.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I think you’ll love Gifts of War. I really do. It has suspense, romance, and plenty of history from a war we often learn very little about (at least in the Canadian school system, we tend to focus on WWII). I liked learning more about WWI, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to someone whose reading habits lean toward historical fiction.

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

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Rick and Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage – Rick Burgess & Bill “Bubba” Bussey (Marriage)

Put away those mushy-gushy marriage guides… the real stuff’s right here! Alright, maybe not all of it, but Rick & Bubba have a few things to say about getting married, being married, and staying married. And it won’t put you to sleep! Rick & Bubba approach the subject with honesty, humor, and personal anecdotes that will make you either laugh or groan (depending on how much you identify with said anecdote…!)

What I appreciated most about this book was the different approach to the subject, which I realize is something that a number of other reviewers found frustrating. Let me put it this way: the authors don’t shy away from taking shots at their wives. Not in a cruel or mean way, but in the sense that the anecdotes don’t always make their wives into the “good guy” of the situation.

They show their faults, their bad habits, all those things that… well… that husbands are always pinned for in other marriage books! That’s not to say Rick & Bubba make themselves out to be perfect, model husbands – not in the least! But the tongue-in-cheek, BALANCED approach to showing both good/bad sides of husbands and wives, in a humorous way, was incredibly refreshing. It’s about time we wives had some stories told about us!

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

(Reviewed for Thomas Nelson)

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