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  8/20/2022

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 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. If a book contains sexual encounters, it may be abandoned at my discretion and will be reviewed with a warning about the content.

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 a bit 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 in 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.