Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Review: Truly, Madly





Truly, Madly
by Heather Webber
Publisher: St. Martin's
ISBN: 9780312946135
Audience: Teens through Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Lucy Valentine came from a long line of matchmakers that had the psychic ability to read auras. As a teen, Lucy, was hit by lightning while on the phone and her abilities were jumbled, so now all she can do is find lost objects. That wouldn't be much of a problem, but Lucy finds herself having to take over her family's matchmaking business, without the ability to make matches. Will Lucy be able to successfully make matches? And what about her ability? Then there's the issue of the really gorgeous private investigator, Sean Donahue, who works upstairs...

"Truly, Madly" was a delightful read. I fell in love with the main character and was enamored with her wit and charm. Lucy is the type of character that you wish lived next door to you - someone you could have over for coffee and sit and talk to. She has a quirky family and a heart of gold. So when she takes over her family's business, you really want her to succeed, and not just with the business but with her own personal romantic life as well.

What made this book even more of a delight was I was expecting a romance, and I got so much more. Heather Webber spun a fantastic tale of romance and mystery with humor peppered throughout. What is even better is this is the first book of her new series. That means we will be able to get to know Lucy and her quirky family more, and hopefully see more of Sean in the future.

I adored this story and will be looking for more of Heather's books!! A great read for everyone!

I received this book through the Barnes & Noble Sneak Peek program.

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters





Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
Published by Quirk Classics
ISBN: 9781594744426
Recommended Audience: Teens through Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

From the publisher of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes a new tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities.

As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon.

Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen's biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It's survival of the fittest -- and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!


Quirk Classics has done it again! I absolutely adored Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters! I wondered if the blend of classic with humor would not be as good this time around, but it was even better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I found that the storyline flowed much more smoothly, with no sudden appearances of monsters that felt like they were just stuck in the story as fillers. The characters were fun and I found myself cheering some on while wanting to see others be eaten by sea creatures. There, of course, was a bit of blood and gore and the humor was dark and really quite funny. Sadly, the book ended much too soon, as I really enjoyed reading Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I hope Quirk has plans for more of these in the near future.

If you haven't read this book yet, please add it to your must reads. It is a nice fun read that will certainly perk up those winter doldrums!

This book was supplied by Anna from FSB Associates for review. Thank you, Anna, for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing this book!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: The Source of Miracles




The Source of Miracles: 7 Steps to Transforming Your Life Through The Lord's Prayer
by Kathleen McGowan
Published by Touchstone
ISBN: 9781439137659
Audience: Teen through Adult
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Millions have sought success and happiness in books like The Secret and The Prayer of Jabez, but Kathleen McGowan's The Source of Miracles shows readers that the real secret to creating and sustaining an abundant, joyous, and fulfilled life has been hiding in plain sight -- in the power of the prayer that unites 2 billion Christians worldwide.

True happiness and success can't just be wished for. The real secret to fulfillment lies in using the Lord's Prayer as part of an ongoing spiritual practice that leads to real and lasting change in the soul -- change that will manifest itself in earthly, tangible ways. Each chapter in The Source of Miracles is a guide to one of seven steps in that process, corresponding to a primary teaching of the prayer: faith, surrender, service, abundance, forgiveness, obstacles, and love. Each chapter also includes meditations, affirmations, and other activities designed to help readers work through life's challenges.

In her bestselling fiction, Kathleen McGowan has popularized the world of Christian esoterica, a unique place where New Age and Christianity meet, making ancient teachings new and powerful. The Source of Miracles harnesses the wisdom of those traditions at a time of great material and spiritual uncertainty, when the need for signposts on the road to success has never been more acute.


I was really excited to be asked to review this book, as it is something I'm really interested in. I really wanted to like it, but sadly, it was not at all what I desire in a Christian Self Help book.

Kathleen McGowan is a great writer and she can easily pull you in with her prose. She has a wonderful way with words, and I was pulled in until she started to tell about her visions of Mary Magdalene and a man with long hair, as well as some strange experiences with the Chartres labyrinth that she had. I continued reading hoping that this was just a little bit of oddness that could be ignored, but what I found was when I'd begin to agree with things she'd say, she'd then seem to turn around and correct herself.

Sadly, I cannot give this book any endorsement as I find it certainly doesn't "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) nor does it appear to be all Christian, but a mixture of beliefs that cross over into different religions. If one is looking for a good Christian self-help book, this isn't it, but if one is just looking for a new age type of guidance, you may enjoy it and would probably find some useful information. Sadly, this book had a lot of potential, but was a huge letdown.

"The Source of Miracles" was supplied by FSB Associates for review. Thank you, Julie, for allowing me to review this book!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: Rich Again




Rich Again: A Novel
by Anna Maxted
St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9780312570286
Audience: Adult
Rating: 1 of 5 stars

Synopsis:
Walk-in closet full of designer everything? Check. Private Caribbean island? Check. Connection to the aristocracy? Working on it. Cunning, malicious stalker? Double check.

Welcome to the world of the Kents, a charismatic, ambitious, and fabulously wealthy English family with two sisters – one as strong and sparkling as the other is delicate and wounded – who must somehow put their differences aside to keep an unknown enemy from bringing them down. Wild and beautiful Emily Kent has had the world laid at her feet by her ruthless mother and billionaire father – but it's not enough. Gifted with her mother's to-die-for looks, her father's hard-scrabble business sense, and both of her parents' lust for control, Emily is determined to make her own luck by seducing the only man she’s ever wanted, a man who can make her dreams of attaining the heights of old-money English society come true. By contrast, Emily's step-sister, Claudia, is a fragile soul—her mother died when she was five, leaving her to the unkind reign of step-mother Innocence. In an uncharacteristic burst of rebellion, Claudia trades her gilded lifestyle for an ordinary flat and daytime job where she meets the man of her dreams… or so she imagines.

But, Emily and Claudia are caught up in a desperate situation that may be beyond their control. As for their father, disgraced tycoon Jack Kent, and his wife Innocence, they are too obsessed with the fight for supremacy over their vast empire to see that a mighty and sinister opponent is plotting to ruin them all.


To say this book was a terrible disappointment is a huge understatement. I had high hopes to sit down and read a novel about the cut-throat big business world of the rich and powerful with some family scandal thrown in. Instead, it was nothing more than a trashy novel. The first chapter alone contained underage drinking, drug usage, sex, partying all centered around a 15 year old. I had hoped the book would get better and there was a reason for such a distasteful beginning. Sadly, that never happened. The story line was predictable and not very interesting. The characters were shallow and not well developed or believable. I felt like I was reading a book written by someone who was bitter towards those more fortunate than she is. Some scenes were distasteful enough that I felt like I had to wash out my eyeballs after reading them. I certainly won't be buying any of Anna Maxted's books. To me, they're not worth the paper they're printed on.

This book was a First Reads win and was sent to me to review.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: Green




Green: The Beginning and the End
by: Ted Dekker
Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781595542885
Audience: Older teens to Adult
Rating 4.75 out of 5 stars

Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world in our time, and woke up 2000 years into the future, well after the Apocalypse had destroyed Earth. Thomas' group, the Circle, as well as his son, are no longer completely faithful to their god, Elyon. Thomas is heartbroken and discovers he must find a way to save the world from another Apocalypse. He must trust Elyon and allow his son to follow his own heart, while Thomas makes the difficult decision to leave the Circle to save them all.

This was my first Ted Dekker novel, and will certainly not be my last. I was a little apprehensive that I could pick up the last book in the series, and read it as the first. I had no idea how Mr. Dekker would accomplish this, but he had done it brilliantly! I easily became familiar with the characters and what roles were played and by whom. The storyline was easy to follow, and like most series, enough was given so that you wouldn't know everything, but wouldn't be lost.

A classic good verses evil tale that kept me totally engrossed and made it difficult to put the book down. I thoroughly enjoyed "Green" and really look forward to reading the others in the series...."Black", "Red" and "White".

This book was supplied by Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers for review.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies





Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Deluxe Edition
by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books
ISBN: 9781594744518
Audience: Teens and Adults
Rating 4-1/2 stars out of 5

Synopsis (combined from both the back of the book and Barnes & Noble):

Now with 30% more Zombies!

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton — and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers — and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to listen to.

This Deluxe heirloom edition includes a new preface by coauthor Seth Grahame-Smith, thirteen oil-painting illustrations by Roberto Parada, and a fascinating afterword by Dr. Allen Grove of Alfred University. Best of all, this limited special edition features an incredible 30 percent more zombies - via even more all-new scenes of carnage, corpse slaying, and cannibalism. Complete with a satin ribbon marker and a leatherette binding designed to endure for generations, this hardcover volume honors a masterpiece of classic zombie literature.


When I first heard of this book, I had written it off as a fad and nothing more than a waste of time to read. It just had to be total nonsense and something that would only be appealing to kids, since it included zombies. It certainly didn't appear that way, though, as it continued to sell well at my local bookstore. When I received this book to review, I was ready to tear it apart and not like the book at all, but the opposite happened. I had such a fun time reading it, and found myself chuckling throughout many of the scenes.

Mr. Grahame-Smith combined Austen's work almost flawlessly with his own. I say almost, because there were a few places that the zombies seemed out of place and just sort of thrown in just to mention them. Overall, though, it really was brilliantly done. I have not enjoyed such humor in quite a while. Instead of destroying Austen's storyline, Mr. Grahame-Smith just added some dark humor to it making it a true treat to read.

My 16 year old daughter is now in the process of reading it, and describes the book as "awesome!". My son is on break from college now, and wants to read it before his winter break ends. He says he's heard a lot about it at the university, and really is anxious to read it to see if it is really as good as he's heard.

Yes, this is really one book that must go on everyone's "must read" list. It's just too much fun not to pass up! I also recommend if you are going to purchase this book, to buy the deluxe edition. It is a beautiful book to look at and for just a little added expense, it will last and be one that you can hand down to your children, and even their children. The cover is a beautiful brown leatherette with a color photo on the front. The color plates are well done and make such a lovely addition to the book. There is also a ribbon bookmark, that makes losing your place almost impossible. The overall look and feel of the book is one of luxury.

This book was supplied by Anna from FSB Associates for review. Thank you, Anna, for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing this book!

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Apologies

My apologies for not posting any reviews lately. My father passed away on the 14th, and the funeral was on the Saturday. It was a great shock to find out he was in the hospital, and we were not notified until his condition was critical, and when we got to see him, I doubt he knew that we were even there. It has been a hard road and I will miss him dearly. I will hopefully be back to normal posting soon. Again, my apologies.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winner of "I Used to Know That"



A big Congratulations goes to Bhumi who is the lucky winner of "I Used to Know That". Random.org selected #5 and you were the 5th person to post in my comments section. Please note - you have 48 hours to respond to your email. If no response, another person will be selected.

Thank you all for entering our first drawing. Please keep checking back for a new drawing in the near future.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

OUR FIRST CONTEST!!!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, we get so wrapped up in buying the perfect gift for others. Why not take a little time and add yourself to our first drawing, and try to win this delightfully entertaining book? (see how to enter below)




12 Days and 12 Facts for This Holiday Season
By Caroline Taggart,
Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School


Ever catch yourself saying I Used to Know That?

Each holiday season brings another round of cocktail parties, family get-togethers, and corporate gatherings -- and invariably, lots of small talk. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when discussing politics, literature, and other intellectual "stuff," especially when what is thought to be general knowledge is often long-forgotten. Enter I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School. From English and Literature to Math and Science, from History and Geography to Religion and Other-Worldly Topics, this book leaves you equipped to handle any topic of conversation.

Here we've cherry-picked twelve fun facts for the holiday season -- one for every day of Christmas (or whatever holiday you prefer!) Quiz yourself to see how much "stuff" you need to brush up on before hobnobbing with the boss or office crush.

1. On building sentences: Just what is a "clause"? (Not to be confused with Santa Claus.)

Answer: A clause contains a subject and a verb and may stand alone as a sentence or as part of a sentence (when it is often called asubordinate clause): Santa Claus loves cookies but can't eat them without milk.

2. How many bones is the spine made up of?

Answer: 26 small bones called vertebrae (Be careful lifting all those heavy holiday boxes.)

3. Acclaimed author Charles Dickens (1812-70) wrote which Christmas classic?

Answer: A Christmas Carol. The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge tries to ignore Christmas and is haunted by the ghost of his former partner, Marley, and by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, who show him the error of his ways.

4. The fist chapter of this famous book opens with "Call me Ishmael." Name the book and author. (Hint: it makes a whale of a gift!)

Answer: Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Melville is also the author of Pierre and the unfinished Billy Budd.

5. There's a name for the process of watering your Christmas tree? Who knew?

Answer: Grab the kids and give them this science factoid as they nurture the family tree: Osmosis is a form of diffusion that is specific to the movement of water. Water moves through a selectively permeable membrane (that is, one that lets some types of molecules through but not others) from a place where there is a higher concentration of water to one where it is lower.

6. Can you name all 6 wives of Henry VIII, father of the Church of England?

Answer: (Listed in order) Catherine, Anne, Jane, Anne, Catherine, Catherine. They are often remembered as divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Sure makes you think twice when complaining about bad relatives.

7. Who was the 16th President of the United States?

Answer: Abraham Lincoln (R, 1861-65) and yes -- he really was born in a log cabin on a winter's day. Notably famous for many reasons including his Gettysburg Address: "Four Score and Seven Years ago our fathers brought fourth upon this continent a new nation conceived in Liberty . . . "

8. 'Tis the season to be jolly giving! Don’t forget to tip well this season -- etiquette coaches will tell you that means no less than 18%. So just how much should you tip on a bill of $50?

Answer: Percent means by a hundred, so anything expressed as a percentage is a fraction (or part, if you prefer) of 100. So 18% is 18 parts of 100, or 18/100 or .18. If your bill is $50, multiply 50 by .18 to get your tip total of $9. If you're feeling generous, a 20% tip would require you to multiply 50 by .20, for a total of $10.00

50.00 x .18 = 9.00

50.00 x .20 = 10.00

Percentages can also be holiday-relevant when it comes to figuring out in-store sales. In this case, you want to multiply by the inverse of the percentage listed. So if you have a $50 sweater that's on sale for 25% off, multiply 50 by .75 for your total of $37.50. That same $50 sweater on sale for 40% off would equate to $30, or $50 multiplied by .60.

50.00 x .75 = 37.50

50.00 x .60 = 30.00

9. Brr, it's cold outside. But just how cold does it have to be to get some snow around here?

Answer: Did you know that the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit? Keep an eye on the temperature and watch your footing for ice on the ground. (See previous fact about those treasured vertebrae!)

10. Everyone knows Santa and his elves live in the North Pole. But what about the South Pole (aka Antarctica)?

Answer: The South Pole was discovered by Roald Amundsen (1872-1928, Norwegian), who was also the first to sail though the Northwest passage, the sea route from Pacific to Atlantic along the north coast of North America. Antarctica is the only continent that contains no countries -- instead, it is a stateless territory protected from exploitation by an international treaty. A good place for the elves to protest low wages?

11. Which Ocean is bigger: the Pacific or the Atlantic?

Answer: The Pacific Ocean is larger at 69,374 square miles -- that's almost double the Atlantic, which comes in at 35,665 square miles. Making it even more astonishing that St. Nick can cross the globe in just one night.

12. Remember the reason for the Season! Can you name a few things that both Judaism and Christianity have in common?

Answer: Both are monotheistic religions that share the first five books of the Christian Old Testament. Both religions view Jerusalem as a sacred site, the former for the Wailing Wall (contains the remains of the temple that was thought to be the place where God resides on earth) and the latter for Christ's burial and resurrection site.

Happy Holidays to all!

©2009 Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Author Bio
Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School, has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer's Market UK 2009.
For more information please visit www.amazon.com.

How to enter:

A HUGE thank you to Caitlin from FSB Associates for supplying both the book and article for this drawing. The book will be shipped directly from the supplier. Please note that I AM NOT responsible for the companies that are mailing out prizes. I am running the contest and I also choose the winner using random.org. The winner's name and address is then sent to the supplier and it is their responsibility to send it to you.

US and Canada only.

Just leave a comment with your email address to enter! You are not required to follow my blog, but it is very much appreciated if you choose to do so. If you post to your blog about this contest, I'll add your name in for another entry. Please leave that you did so in your comment.

Contest ends December 18th, 2009 11:59pm EST.
Good Luck!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Decoding the Lost Symbol Book Review





Decoding the Lost Symbol
by Simon Cox
A Touchstone Book - A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
ISBN: 9780743287272
Audience: Everyone
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the back of the book:

Secret Societies . . . Forgotten History . . . Conspiracies . . .
From the bestselling Dan Brown expert, a guide to the fascinating and mysterious world of The Lost Symbol

Dan Brown's new novel once again features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, this time in the United States, racing to uncover clues and crack codes involving secrets that are perpetuated to this day. But how much of the novel is true and what is pure fiction? Simon Cox, bestselling author of Cracking the Da Vinci Code and Illuminating Angels & Demons, offers the first definitive guide to all the mysteries featured in The Lost Symbol.

Based on extensive research, this A-to-Z guide lists the real people, organizations, and themes features in Dan Brown's latest novel, explains their histories and their meanings, reproduces and analyzes the symbols themselves, and provides insider knowledge gleaned from years of exhaustive study. From the monuments of Washington, D.C., to the secrets of Salt Lake City and the hidden enclaves in Langley, Virginia, Cox knows where the facts are hidden about the Freemasons, Albert Pike, the Rosicrucians, the Founding Fathers, and more.

This is the only resource you'll need to understand and enjoy the complex new world of The Lost Symbol.


Robert Langdon is one of my favorite characters. What's there not to like? He's smart, considerably good looking and he loves art. Most of all, he seems to enjoy a good mystery. Dan Brown is the writer that can create that good mystery and can keep Robert and the rest of us guessing what happens next. Brown's books are more in depth than what they appear. The amount of history and research that goes into them is amazing, and what Brown does with it is even more amazing. Sadly, much of that can get past the average reader. When finished, many just move on to the next book, not realizing how much symbolism the book contains and how many red herrings were missed.

Decoding the Lost Symbol is a must read for anyone that has read The Lost Symbol. Even those that haven't read it, can benefit from all the fascinating information that is contained in this book. Simon Cox made the book easy to use, listing things featured in the novel. It contains information about the Philosopher's Stone, Herehom, Aleister Crowley, to name a few, plus beautiful color photos and illustrations. Cox goes in depth and explains how these all connect with Langdon in the novel.



I was fascinated with this book, and I know I'll be turning to it more than once, not only because of the novel, but because of all the fascinating information that it holds. This is the perfect addition to any library. I highly recommend this book to not only Dan Brown fans, but anyone interested in history. The book also has an extensive bibliography that will please and intrigue anyone interested in pursuing a deeper look into history.



Author Biography:

I don't read much non-fiction. I simply don't have the time, and when I do, its not generally from the "thriller" genre. So how come I have written three guide books to three thrillers? The answer is simple. Dan Brown. What Brown has managed to do brilliantly within the framework of his novels, is weave facts and fiction seamlessly together in a coherent and logical way, the like of which is rarely seen. I'm not saying its all perfect -- indeed, as I point out in my guide books, some of his factual research leaves much to be desired -- but he does have an uncanny knack of being able to hit the zeitgeist of the moment when it comes to historical themes and ideas.

Brown seems to follow certain pre-set rules within his Robert Langdon based novels. Generally there is a religious element and this element is stacked up against a scientific element. Then there are the codes and clues -- mainly left within an historical framework -- mathematical conundrums being a favorite of Mr Brown. Finally there are the secret societies that seem to be the glue that holds the stories together. In The Da Vinci Code, we see an exploration of the sacred feminine and an alternative life of Christ. In Angels & Demons, the very heart of Christendom, the Vatican is central to the story and in The Lost Symbol Brown takes it all a step further as he espouses the ideals of deism and universal godhead. Essentially what Brown has written are three books that have woven between them a central theme of tolerance to all faiths, but above all, an acknowledgement that faith plays an essential role in the development of mans consciousness and being. As a historian, I can attest to the fact that this mantra was crucial to most if not all ancient cultures. In this respect Dan Brown is carrying on a long standing tradition.

The Lost Symbol is at first glance a less remarkable book than its predecessor, The Da Vinci Code. It seems to lack the one major hook, the heart in mouth fact that suddenly makes gasp out loud as you read the page. However, this book is a slow burner. Its message of tolerance and universality is not at first obvious -- but the more you read and digest the message within the pages, the more you realize that this time 'round, Brown has a clear and decisive meaning that he is trying to get across. When I first saw this I was aghast. A novelist trying to change the way the world thinks from inside a story of chases and code breaking. But then, think about it. Brown has an audience unlike any novelist ever has. The Lost Symbol was awaited as if it were the harbinger of a new messiah after the enormous success of The Da Vinci Code -- some eighty million people the world over had become instant fans of his writing -- he had an audience who patiently waited for every word on every page. What better way to change the world.

It remains to be seen if the book will have any effect at all. Its early days yet and the response, though swift in sales, has been less than that of The Da Vinci Code. However it is to be remembered that The Da Vinci Code itself was very much a slow burner of a book at first -- not really exploding until some time after its launch. I have attempted to give a clear and easily understandable view of where Mr. Brown researched his facts and what parts of his book are fact and what fiction. It was a writing exercise that I really enjoyed, just as I had with the other guides. Decoding The Lost Symbol is a book that I am very proud of, especially given the incredible time constraints that I was under -- it was fun to do and fun to write. I hope you will enjoy it too, should you choose to pick it up and should you choose to explore some of the themes and ideas within The Lost Symbol itself. I encourage debate and criticism and can be contacted via my website at: www.decodingthelostsymbol.com.



Copyright © 2009 Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction

Author Bio
Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction, was the founding editor in chief of the successful newsstand magazine Phenomena. Having studied Egyptology at University College London, he went on to work as a research assistant for some of the biggest names in the alternative history game, including Graham Hancock, Robert Bauvel, and David Rohl. He splits his time between Britain and the United States.


Book, author biography and photos were provided by FSB Associates. Thank you, Anna for allowing me to read and review this fascinating book!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Earth Is Ours Book Review




Earth Is Ours
by Gary W. Babb
Wandering Sage Publications
ISBN: 1933300639
Audience: Older teen to adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the back of the book:

An alien invasion has stripped Earth of all technology, and those that survived the initial destruction in the aftermath must take up swords to fight the giant intruders in the ensuing battles that rage. In the jagged aftermath Levi and Amy struggle to survive in this ghostly hostile new world... but can the shaky union of a female computer essence and a human male be enough? What begins as a conflict of minds soon develops into tolerance, then cooperation and finally love.

For a limited preview of this book, please click here.

I love a good science fiction story, but most of the time it seems that they are written with the male audience in mind. Earth Is Ours is an exception. Mr. Babb has done a superb job writing a book that will appeal to both male and female! It is full of alien monsters, survival, battles and lots of suspense to appeal to the male, while at the same time, there are friendships and relationships that will appeal to the female. He has created characters with depth and personalities that are believable, lovable and sometimes downright playful, making them very realistic.

The two main characters, Levi and Amy, are an interesting "pair". Levi is an 80 year old Native American who wants revenge. Amy is a computer who has become self-aware. She finds a way to connect with a human, who happens to be Levi, and gives him the abilities to repay the aliens that have inhabited the earth. During this time, Amy and Levi become very fond of each other, and then fall in love. That love can never be real, as she is only a computer essence, and he is flesh and blood, or can it? The book is written from both Levi and Amy's point of view, and masterfully done, I might add. Amy's thoughts and feelings are every bit female!!

The story also contains some sexual content, although not overly done, nor too graphic. In this story, it enhances the believability of Amy and Levi's relationship and how they both handle Amy being and essence instead of a "real woman". Because of the content, I would recommend this book for older teens and adults.

Earth Is Ours is an excellent read full of action, suspense, friendships and relationships where the most unlikely join together to work towards the common good. I had a hard time putting this one down, and look forward to reading book two of the four book series.

Book 1 - Earth Is Ours - ISBN: 1933300693
Book 2 - Target Earth - ISBN: 1425986153
Book 3 - Earth's Warriors - Pending
Book 4 - Genesis Logs - Pending


This book was sent to me to be reviewed by the author Gary W. Babb. Thank you, Gary, for allowing me the pleasure of reading and reviewing your work.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Christmas Carol Special Edition Book Review





A Christmas Carol Special Edition
Charles Dickens with Stephen Skelton
Standard Publishing
ISBN: 9780784723913
Audience: Everyone - especially nice for groups and home schooling families!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the back of the book:

"We heartily recommend this little volume
as an amusing companion, and a wholesome monitor,
to all who would enjoy in truth and in spirit
'A merry Christmas and a happy New Year.'"
--Charles Mackay, Morning Chronicle, December 19, 1843

Since its publication in 1843, the tale of a miserly old man and the ghosts who visit him has been bringing the true spirit of Christmas into hearts and homes. Whether you've read the story a thousand times or have only seen the movie, A Christmas Carol Special Edition will enrich your enjoyment of this holiday favorite with:

* The complete text of the Charles Dickens classic.
* Annotations offering interesting insight into the story's biblical allusions, the author's faith, and compelling Christian themes throughout.
* Discussion questions designed to engage and promote dialogue among readers of all ages on such subjects as regret, repentance, and redemption.
* A list of related resources to enhance your study.

Enjoy A Christmas Carol Special Edition in your home, study group, book group, or Advent celebration and learn how to say with Scrooge:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year."


Every year, as a child, I would watch "A Christmas Carol" on television. I was entranced and even a little scared when the ghosts came to visit. As I grew older, I had no interest in reading the book, since I almost knew it by heart. What a terrible mistake I had made. The book is so much better than anything that I've seen on the screen. Dickens tells such a truly amazing story!

The Christmas Carol Special Edition, though, made me thankful that I hadn't read it earlier. On each page, in the side margin, are wonderful notes that tell the reader wonderful tidbits about the time period, about Dickens himself and why he wrote certain things, where they came from, and how somethings were a reflection on Dickens life. Things that would have been passed by and things that didn't make sense, were pointed out and explained, and truly enhanced the story.

Stephen Skelton did a fantastic job with the explanations, however, I wasn't as impressed with the Christian views. It felt like he was really trying to make something out of things that weren't there, to match some Biblical views. One such reference that comes to mind was when the Spirit of Christmas Present was going to take Scrooge with him, Scrooge took hold of his robe to travel. According to Skelton, that action was to heal the spirit of Scrooge and likened it to the woman who touched Jesus' robe and was healed.

After each Stave (chapter), one will find a discussion section. This section is set up to use with a group, child through adult, or even self-study if one would like. This would make a nice addition to study groups, and especially nice for home schooling families.

Overall, this is a beautiful book that should be on everyone's shelf. If you have problems with some of the Christian references, they can easily be excluded. The information about Dickens and the times alone are worth the purchase of this book.

A Christmas Carol Special Edition was supplied by FSB Associates for review. Thank you, Julie, for allowing me to review this book!

Campus Chills Book Review





Campus Chills
Edited by Mark Leslie
Stark Publishing
ISBN: 9780973568813
Audience: Older teens to adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Campus Chills contains 13 tales that take place on campuses throughout Canada. They go from those that will give you tingles to the back of your neck, all the way to chilling you to the bone. Each story is a real page turner, that will hold you in their grips right up until the end.

This book was a fun and quick read that took me back to my college days. I really enjoyed the different styles of the authors, covering the classic horror to just plain creepy. Most of the stories ran of the average of 20 pages, so they are perfect to crawl into bed and finish before going to sleep (if you dare!). The stories are centered around college life, so you will find the normal things that happen - drinking, some drug use, and one story with weird graphic sex in it (to the point of being gross), so I'd recommend it for older high school to adult levels.

I love this book and highly recommend it. If you are a college student, thinking of going to college, graduate, or just love horror, you must add this to your must read list.

This was a First Reads win on Good Reads. I thank Mark Leslie for listing this book and allowing me the chance to read and review it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shade: A Novel Book Review





Shade: A Novel

John B. Olson
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Audience: Teens to Adult



Hailey Maniates was a tall and beautiful third year grad student majoring in Biochemistry. One night, after returning to her lab, she is pursued by someone or something. Terrified, she runs through Golden Gate Park where she is rescued by a very tall homeless man. She can't understand it, but she can read his mind and she can feel his emotions. He sprints her to the hospital, and leaves her to explain her story. Even though Hailey thinks this is due to the shock from the trauma, the doctors feel it is something more. Hailey is put in a mental institution and is medicated for her hallucinations. She knows she's not crazy, and must find the very tall homeless man to find out what happened and get her many questions answered. What really did pursue Hailey? Why did she think she saw herself being chased through the attackers eyes? How could she feel the thought and emotions of the homeless "giant"? What was happening to her? Was she really just the crazy person her doctors diagnosed her to be?

I had read the second book of this series, Powers, first, and was a little concerned that I may have ruined this first book. Not at all!! From the beginning, Shade pulled me in. Masterfully written, it's full of mystery and intrigue and heart-stopping, spine-tingling terror. Olson wrote a fantastic page-turner that scared the pants off me! His characters have depth and memorable qualities that I won't easily forget, nor will I be comfortable being alone in the dark for a long time to come!!

Please note: This book is categorized as Christian Fiction.

I would like to thank Julie of B&H Publishing for sending me this book to review.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Powers: A Novel Book Review





Powers: A Novel
by John B. Olson
Rating 5 out of 5 stars
Audience: Teens to Adult
Release Date: December 1, 2009



Mariutza's grandfather, Purodad, and beloved teacher, Miss Caralee were murdered while Mariutza stayed helplessly hidden. Before her grandfather died in her arms, he told Mariutza what she must do. She had been kept hidden in the swamp and cared for by her grandfather, but now she was alone, and being chased by the Badness. She had to get out of the swamp and find Jaazaniah the Prophet. He was the only one that could help her now.

As soon as the book arrived, I was eager to start reading. Between the cover art and the blurb on the back, it looked like a fantastic read. I was not disappointed. From the first few paragraphs, I was drawn in, and had a hard time putting it down. I loved the characters of Mari (Mariutza) and Jazz (Jaazaniah) and found myself cheering them on. This is truly a page turner full of suspense and surprises, twists and turns, and even some conspiracy thrown in. Powers is the sequel to Shade, but could easily be read as a stand alone book. Highly recommended!!

Please note: This book is categorized as Christian Fiction.

I won this book as part of the Early Reviewers program It was supplied by B&H Publishers. My thanks to both the ER program and the B&H for allowing me to review this book.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wendy Knits Book Review





Wendy Knits: My Never-Ending Adventures in Yarn
by Wendy Johnson
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Audience: All levels of knitters from beginners to advanced

Wendy Johnson takes you through her knitting life and her obsessions with knitting and yarn. From her first cast-on and being self-taught to becoming one of the most known names in the knitting blog world. Wendy has included 20 beautiful patterns for all knitting levels, as well as many hints and tips throughout the book.

I have followed Wendy Johnson's blog for many years, so I was excited to finally get my hands on this book. It was everything I had expected and more. Wendy's warm and humorous look back over her knitting career is a fun and fascinating read. The patterns she includes are lovely and will please any knitter - from beginner to advanced. I have knit up a few of her patterns including the "Sophisticated Cabled Catnip Mouse", "Easy One-Skein Hat" and her "Generic Socks". All patterns were well written and easy to follow. She as sprinkled tips throughout the book that are very good and useful. My only wish is that the photos were in color. I've seen her pictures on her blog, and the b&w photos just don't do justice to her knitting or her precious blue-eyed cat, Lucy! I highly recommend this book to any knitter - beginner through advanced.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye Book Review





The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
Rating 2 out of 5 stars
Recommended audience: none

This book has been recommended by so many people telling me how fantastic is was. I didn't have the luxury of reading this in English class as a student, so I thought I would catch up on what I missed.

Holden Caulfield tells his story of how spends a few days on his own. He was kicked out of school and decides to leave early after a fight with this roommate. He leaves on the weekend and decides to stay away from home until Wednesday, when he is expected. During this time, he ends up in some precarious places.

Although I enjoyed the voice of Holden, I kept waiting for something to happen. I kept telling myself there had to be some significance to the whole story, that something big was going to go on. That kept me reading and hoping. However, I was left very disappointed at the end. How did this book make it to be such a classic? The only reason I marked two stars instead of one is because I enjoyed the point of view from the teen. The book itself, overall, was pointless. This is one book I should have left sit on the shelf in the bookstore.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Review Policies & Disclosures

Please understand this is a work in progress, and will be fine-tuned as I become more experienced.

My Review Policies as of  3/16/2015

1. First and foremost, I DO NOT review books for money. My reviews are my opinions and my opinions only. With no compensation, I am free to tell the truth. I will not feel badly posting my honest opinion. If I feel a book is truly awful, expect to find a negative review explaining why I didn't like it. If a book is good, expect to find a positive review. I do not endorse any book or author. If my review appears that I am, please know it's just because I think it is well deserved for something that I enjoyed reading.

2. I will be happy to review any book from any genre except erotica or extreme horror (really descriptive gore is not for me). My favorite genres are young adult, historical fiction, Christian fiction, mysteries - especially the cozy type mysteries, fantasy, and non-fiction.

3. I enjoy reviewing e-books and would be happy to accept review copies in this format. If you are interested in sending a hard copy of your book, be assured that I do not sell them or profit from them in any way. Every book is donated to my local libraries (I have 2 of them). They are thrilled with these donations and put the books on their circulation shelves. This benefits the library and you book gets lots more exposure!

4. When I receive a book from an author or publisher, it will be disclosed at the end of the review.

5. I post my reviews on this blog, and if time allows Good Reads, Shelfari and Library Thing, Book Likes,  The Reading Room, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and Christian Book Distributors (if appropriate).

6. Currently, I am backlogged, so if you would like your book reviewed, please contact me to see what my schedule is like. I would love to review every book that is offered to me, but sadly I don't have enough hours the day.

If you would like me to review one of your books, you can contact me at: tweezle(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Journey Forgotten Book Review





A Journey Forgotten
by Emily Noll
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Audience: young adult to adult who loves a good adventure

Conner Anderson is a writer who has always been lucky to be able to easily put his stories down on paper. That is until he was under contract to write his 4th novel and came down with a serious case of writer's block. While trying to clear his head and find inspiration, Conner has an accident that puts him in the hospital. When Conner wakes up, he finds himself in a metallic room - aboard a spaceship. He discovers he is a Captain of a ship that was destroyed and he and his surviving crew members were rescued. Conner struggles with his new identity - or is it his "real" identity and being an author is just a dream? Trying to find himself leads him on his most important mission... taking on his role of captain to discover what the threat was that destroyed his ship on his last voyage.

What a delightful read!! I had a difficult time putting it down as I really wanted to figure out what was real and what was just a dream. I figured it all out, or so I thought, until the end.... OHHHHH!!! I never would have guessed the ending! I absolutely loved the storyline and the ending far from let me down. An excellent read for anyone who loves a good adventure. My teens are really looking forward to reading this one now that I'm finished.

Now to look for more books by Emily Noll. I just loved her writing style!

Book was won from the First-reads program on Goodreads. Thank you for listing this, Emily!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wabi Book Review



Have you ever just impulsively walked into a bookstore with no real purpose, except to browse? We recently went to a not-so local mall, just to have a look before we went out to dinner. That's when I stumbled on Waldenbooks, and all the tables and carts of clearance books. My husband gave me that "look" and said he was going to sit and have a nap while I looked. There were a couple of interesting books, but when one of the employees came out with another box of books to put out, she said, "Did you know that all of the ones with the blue label are buy-one-get-one-free?" So much for an easy escape!

While looking through all those great buys, I came across this lovely gem. I know that I've been told over and over again that one should never buy a book for its cover, but this is one that I did. The cover art just grabbed me. I loved the colors and the intriguing art work, and the style said the book should be a fantasy, so I took a chance. It was even better than I had hoped for!



Wabi: A Hero's Tale
by Joseph Bruchac
Rating 5 out of 5 stars
Audience: Everyone

A beautiful tale based on a Native American legend about a runt owl named Wabi. Before Wabi could fly, he was pushed out of his nest by his larger brother. Instead of falling to his death, he ended up in some briers, getting more tangled as he struggled. A fox saw his fall and was just about to eat Wabi, when he was rescued by his great-grandmother. She took care of him and taught him many great things, including the fact that they could speak in human language as well as other animal languages. Wabi was fascinated with humans and would go and watch the nearby village, being amused with all the activities that went on. He was also saddened, as he wanted to badly to be able to play some of the games that he saw the children play. After many months of watching the village, he came to realize that he had fallen in love with the chief's daughter. His only dream was to become human so he could spend his life with her. The paths Wabi chose and the adventures he went on, truly made him a hero.

This was such a beautiful and well told story. It was filled with magic, monsters, animals that talked, adventure, suspense, loyalty, and friendship, with a dash of humor thrown in. I adored Wabi from the start. His character was full of spunk and wit that made him lovable and with depth. Many times I found myself chuckling at something he did or said. At the same time, when he struggled with his love for a human, and the paths he chose, I found myself wrapped up in the process and not wanting him to continue with the choice he made - at least not at first. However, there is always a great lesson to be learned from a legend... "Be who you are." This is a great story that will make you laugh and possibly cry - and will leave you fully satisfied. Highly recommended for all ages.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Noticer Book Review





The Noticer: Sometimes all a person needs is a little perspective.
by Andy Andrews
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Recommended reading: Everyone

A mysterious old man, who calls himself "Jones, not Mr. Jones, just Jones", has a very unique habit of showing up in people's lives just when things look their worst. He is a beautiful old soul, with bright blue eyes and shocking white hair, who never seems to age. He wears jeans, a tee shirt, sandals and carries an old suitcase that he never opens wide enough for anyone to see inside. Jones easily befriends others and shares his gift of being a "Noticer". He sees what others miss, and helps by giving people a different perspective of their problems.

This is one of the most beautiful, heartwarming and inspirational stories that I've ever read. I adored Jones and ended up taking so much from his simple philosophy. When I started this book, I had thought I'd read a couple of chapters and then get on with my daily routine, but I couldn't put it down! It was entrancing, and before I knew it, I was finishing it, knowing that my life would be just a bit different because "Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective." A truly touching story that should be read by everyone!

For more detailed information about this book, plus a sneak peek at the first few pages, you can visit the Thomas Nelson Noticer product page.

Please note: This book was supplied by the Thomas Neslon for the Book Review Bloggers program in exchange for a review.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Half Moon - Book Review





Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World
by Douglas Hunter

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Henry Hudson was was hired by the Dutch Trading Company in 1609 to find a northeastern passage around Russia to more easily access China. Hudson started his voyage aboard the Half Moon with a mixture of English and Dutch crewmen. Part way into his voyage, he decided to turn his ship around and go west to America where he would discover the Hudson River and other uncharted territories. Hudson found himself with his hands full, wondering if there was mutiny brewing and also wondering how he would be received by the Dutch when he finally decided to back. When he did go back, he found himself on another mission to find a northwestern passage to China. That was his last voyage.

When I closed the book after reading the last paragraph, I had to just sit in thought for a bit. Douglas Hunter, who is a sailor himself, wove such an intricate story of Henry Hudson. The amount of research that went into this book is amazing, and to present it like Hunter did was even more amazing to me. From the start I was drawn in, and felt like I was reading a puzzle with pieces being put together from all different sources, a little at a time, until the picture became clear. Who was Hudson? Where did he come from? Why would he blatantly disregard his orders and sail the opposite way?

Since there was no journal of Hudson's to go by, many of the notes about the voyage were taken from Robert Juet's journal. Reading some of the thoughts and feelings of an actual crew member was a real treat and very insightful. I had no idea what exploration was like in the 1500 and 1600's besides the basic textbook "stuff" I received in school. I had no idea of the amount of espionage, threats of mutiny, and pirating that went on. Most of all, I had no idea how much history was re-written for gain, both financially and politically. Hudson ended being a totally different man than the explorer that was captain of the Half Moon.

This book was a fascinating read, and now that I'm done, my family will be able to go back to normal dinner banter, instead of listening to me rattle on about what I found was amazing in the book. Both of my teens are now wanting to read Half Moon and I know they'll enjoy it as much as I did!

Please note - I received this book to review from Bloomsbury press as part of the First-reads program on Goodreads.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Escape from Slavery - Book Review





Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity--and My Journey to Freedom in America
by Francis Bok

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Francis Bok spent his early childhood as a happy member of a Sudanese Dinka family. He took great pride that his father felt he would someday grow up and do great things. At the age of 7, Francis was allowed for the first time to go to the market to sell his family's goods. Little did he know that this would be the last time he would ever see his family again. He was captured at the market and was bound in slavery for the next ten years. Now, he's on an incredible mission that may change how we all look at slavery.

This book is a fascinating read. It left me speechless and mortified to know that so much slavery still goes on all over the world. Francis put up with tremendous abuse and and survived it, astounding me that anyone, let alone a child, could have so much faith and not be broken. This is truly an incredible story of faith, hope and resilience. A must read for everyone!

This book was required reading for my son when he started at the university this autumn. He was lucky enough to hear Francis speak and meet him after the seminar.

How This Blog Began

I am a professed bookworm and lover of books. I married a man who barely reads anything unless he HAS to. He will tell you that reading, especially fiction, is a pure waste of time. He does read the Bible and occasionally a Christian or a how-to book, but being a man of action, he'd rather do things with his hands instead of sitting still and reading. Thankfully, his ideas didn't pass on to the children, and they, too, are just as obsessed about reading as I am.

Growing up, my bookcase always was overflowing, plus I brought home tons of books from the library. My mother always had books coming from some sort of a book club, but I really don't remember her ever reading much. I imagine she read while we were all at school and the house was nice and peaceful. My father, on the other hand, was always reading something. Even now, at 85, he has stacks of books to be read. Sadly, he has developed a disability that now makes it more difficult for him to hold books, but he still reads as much as he can.

Our home library is diverse and very eclectic. Each of us has our favorites. My son loves history non-fiction as well as many of the classics. My daughter is a fiction nut who also loves the classics. Me, well, I'm all over the board. I haven't been able to fit in any type of a box, yet. There are too many books out there to put me in certain genres or classifications. I think that's why my husband shudders when I walk into a bookstore, as he can be certain I can find something that's worth bringing home to read. :)

I live in a very rural area and have not found any interest in any type of book club, so I went looking online. I found a few wonderful groups that I got involved in, and that led me to a fantastic opportunity. You see, I was chosen by Bloomsbury USA to read one of their books and post my review to my group, Bloomsbury and anywhere else I deem fit. In just a few days from being chosen, I received Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World by Douglas Hunter. I am currently reading Half Moon now, and will be posting a review in a few days.

So, that's the story of how this blog began.

The End :)

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