Tag Archives: Book Review

Absent Landlord: An Interesting Parable

19 Mar

The description of this book intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try.

“In this house of failure-ridden misfits, status means everything. When fast-talking newcomer, Lars, tricks insecure Seth out of even the lowest room in the house, Seth resorts to suicide. After he fails at this too, however, Seth wakes up and finds everything he used to take for granted now to be priceless gifts, including the rickety old house. He even decides to obey the long-ignored rules of the absent landlord, which say to care for the others in the house.

Even though Lars continually crushes him and the others to climb his way to the top, Seth must persevere in his quiet resolve, not realizing that the fate of everyone in the house depends on it.”

 

This is an interesting story because the hero is so pathetic to start out. You can’t read about him without feeling some pity while at the same time not being surprised that he has such a hard time making friends. He is the epitome of self-pity and self-loathing. The antagonist, Lars, makes it really easy to dislike him. He has almost no redeeming qualities. These, and all the rest of the unusual characters, makes for a very interesting read.

The author does a good job of setting the scene. You can easily imagine what the house looks like and what the characters look like. While the characters are outrageous at times, they are very human and the interactions are very human as well. It is really hard to say more about this book other than I liked it and
thought it was well worth reading.

* I received a free copy of this book for my unbiased opinion. The opinions expressed are my honest reaction to this book.*

Catskinner’s Book- Strange but Engaging

18 Mar

Catskinner's Book (The Book Of Lost Doors)

* * * *

 

I will admit that through most of this book I was confused, but since the main
character seemed just as confused as I was I think that’s okay. This story
revolves around a man, James, who has some other entity permanently attached to
him thanks to his father. James has never really understood Catskinner, or what
his own purpose was, but he gets thrown into some very confusing answers as he
becomes a target for several groups of people. This book was different than
anything I have read before, and was not what I expected.

There were a lot of plot twists, and some of what seemed randomness in this book. I never
fully understood what purpose James played for all the people that were after
him, and I never fully understood what these other entities were trying to do.
That being said, I was definitely invested. I gave this book 4 stars despite my
confusion because the author actually managed to get me attached to the
characters. I found myself rooting for James and Catskinner despite what they
had done before everything went crazy. I especially liked how the author evolved
the Character of Catskinner throughout. I found myself wondering right along
with James if it was really Catskinner changing, or if it was James that had. I
will agree with another reviewer though, the ending wasn’t as satisfying as I
would have liked it to be. That was actually probably the most confusing part
for me through the whole story. If you want to read something that keeps you
guessing, this is definitely the book for you. I will add the warning that there
is quite a bit of language, and some very strange sex-like moments.

*I received a free copy of this book for review. This is my unbiased opinion
however.*

 

Amazon Link

HerStory by Dealaina M. Waldron

21 Feb

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Book Synopsis

HerStory a novel by Delaina M. Waldron is a paranormal/thriller that takes the reader on a journey in the life of a young African slave woman named Ayira who has a dark secret.  A dark secret she does not understand and is beyond her control.

Ayira can see the past and the future and she can also speak to the dead.

It is the beginning of slavery in America, a Native American tribe rescues Ayira and she struggles to balance her special powers and face her dark past to help the people around her.

Ayira must overcome her fears of her dark past, survive the present and accept her destiny to help prevent the Indian tribes fatal outcomes.

 

Headshot_2_cropped_2

Author Bio

Delaina M. Waldron is a Screenwriter, Novelist and freelance writer in her spare time.  She wrote two feature length screenplays one of which was adapted to her novel “HerStory” and the other a comedy called “Ghetto Ghost Hunters” was a finalist in the 2011 Hollywood Screenwriting contest.  She also wrote a short screenplay a thriller called “Peeper”, which is currently in production.

Delaina M. Waldron is a single mother of one and is currently a city bus driver and a military veteran for the Army Reserves, based in New York City.

 

Website:  www.herstorynovel.com

 

Twitter:  @delainawaldron

 

Blog: http://delainawaldron.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/hello-world/

 

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delaina-M-Waldron/227854963892903?ref=hl

 

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My Review:

***

This book deals with spiritualism/occult. If you are offended by literature that has themes such as this, you will not want to read this book. I often review Christian themed books, so I want to give this warning before I continue.

HERStory is about a woman from Africa who has special gifts to speak with the dead and see into the future. She is rescued by an Indian tribe after being sold into slavery. The tribe struggles to get to know her and understand her gifts as she continues to isolate herself from everyone.

Ayira is afraid of the gifts she has and of what her father wants her to use them for. She does not have control of the visions she sees, and she does not know how to change them. The people who reach out to help her are turned away as she does not trust anyone. The theme of this story is Ayira learning how to be in control of what she is seeing.

I gave this book three stars because, though it held my interest to the end, there were some things that were confusing to me. I did not understand fully why the Indians had rescued the slaves, or what their motives were throughout the story. I also could never understand why no one, except another spirit, could control Ayira’s father.

The story itself caught my attention. I wanted to finish because I wanted to know what would happen to Ayira. Ms. Waldron is a good story teller, but I couldn’t get past the details that confused me. I also thought it would have drawn more interest to know which tribes I was reading about. I like the history behind stories, and I felt like the history behind the Indians was a little lacking. I realize this is Ayira’s story, but I just felt that the Indian’s history might have cleared some things up.

All in all though, I enjoyed the story. Reading this story as a Christian, I could go into my beliefs about what was behind Ayira’s gifts, but since that was not the point of this book I will leave that alone. This is an interesting, and fairly short read, for anyone who wants something a little different.

 

Interview with the Author:

1)      What motivated you to write this story?

A: I admire the Native American Culture.  In the days of slavery in America, I always thought what would have happened if the Native Americans joined forces with the African slaves and fought against the foreigners.

 

I also thought what it would have been like to see the two cultures meeting each other and learning from each other and living together in the 18th century.

 

2)      Did you have any particular tribes in mind when you wrote this story? If so which ones?

 

A: I had an idea of certain tribes that lived in the area of the settlers that mysteriously disappeared back in 1587, the settlers were called the Roanoke colony in the North Carolina area.  The tribe was loosely based on the nearby tribes near the roanoke colony.

 

3)      In the story, you have the Indian tribe save the slaves, but later you find out they had taken slaves from another tribe. How do you reconcile the difference in their actions?

A: They did not take slaves from another tribe, they took in Native American tribe members displaced by the battles with the soldiers.

 

4)      Is the story, and the woman’s abilities, based on any particular religious or other beliefs? If so what beliefs?

 

A: There are various African beliefs and rituals, but the woman’s abilities are loosely compared to lets say “Nostradamus” a man that had special abilities in a century that had no understanding of his abilities and a man that was far advanced in his century.  So the woman’s abilities were too complex and advanced for her to understand and to control in the time and place where such things were unimaginable for such a simple young African woman.

 

5)      Do you relate to your main character, and if so how?

A: I relate to my main character mainly with her times when she is confused about her direction in life, what and where to go and how to overcome obstacles.  I found myself isolating myself at times when I did not want to get hurt also.

 

 

6)      What was your favorite part about writing this story?

 

A: My favorite part was writing the ending.  I love the twist at the end, it gave a sense of accomplishment for the slave woman and independence.

 

7)      What was your least favorite part?

 

A: My least favorite part was writing about the sad moment with Imani.  Imani is a great supporting character for the slave woman.

 

8)      Do you have any other projects upcoming?

A: I am currently writing a couple of screenplays, a short horror and the other a psychological thriller.

 

Asylum by Ashley Hodges Bazer

11 Feb

This is a book that is a little out of my normal interest zone, but the description caught my interest, so I decided to give it a try. This is a Christian based science fiction story pitting the Ghosts, members of Logia and other followers of the Crown, against the Legacy who are determined to terminate everyone who is associated with the Logia. The Legacy has spent an abundance of energy and resources in coming up with cruel tortures for all Ghosts they capture, and when they capture the wife of one of the gifted captains of the Ghosts, they experiment with one of their newest torture devices, wiping out all her memories.

***

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The story follows Chase, the Ghost captain whose wife has been captured, as he searches for his wife and looks for a way to rescue her. This book is about Chase learning to trust the Crown as he goes on his search, but the underlying theme seems to be the love he has for his wife, as well as the love she retains for him despite all the Legacy’s efforts to remove it. While I did feel that there were some areas of the story that were forced, such as how readily Chase gives up on the idea of vengeance after he has set his heart on it, all in all this was a good book. The book is definitely a page turner, and I was caught up in hoping that Chase would be able to succeed in his mission to get his wife back throughout. This book deals with some gruesome things at times, as you read about the torture that the Legacy inflicts on others, but it is a book I would recommend to my friends or blog readers.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Overcoming Abuse God’s Way by Janet Marie Napper and Brenda Branson

3 Feb

It is hard to write a bad review because I know this woman overcame a lot, but I felt the book was lacking. This was supposed to be about bringing Godly wisdom to help in an abusive situation, and while there were reflections on God’s word at the end of each chapter, the book came across as more of an emotional
release of all her past hurts. There were places where she took responsibility, but much of it came across as look at what this person did to me. I was looking for a way that women could become conquerors, but felt I found a plea for empathy.

_140_245_Book_738_cover  **

It is good to see that she managed to use her experiences, and I hope this book can prove more useful to others than it did for me. It is obvious she does strive to trust in God, and my only other comment would be that she should search the Word more diligently for God’s full salvation, as should anyone who reads this book.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Note: I do feel for the woman in this book. I understand that abuse is painful, and I hate that it happens to anyone. Had this book been written strictly as a memoir, I may have reviewed it differently, but since it was advertised as a book to help women deal with abuse, I could not say that it met that standard. Perhaps someone who is dealing with abuse currently will feel differently.

The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant by Terry Felber

20 Jan

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***

This book reads as a story, but is really a guide book for how to be both a Christian and a businessman. There are clear lessons on how to apply business principals in a way that do not lead to compromising your beliefs, and yet allow you to make a profit. This book dispels the belief that to be a Christian means you should never be wealthy. The story is of a man who grows up in a monastery, but then when he comes of age decides to become a merchant. The lessons are given as every three years the man meets with his mentor and friend to learn from him how to be successful. He keeps a journal of these lessons, which he is now preparing to pass down to his grandson.

The story itself was interesting, as you got to see how this man applied the principles he was learning to his life. It was a great way to show many of the ideas from Proverbs in action. The 12 principles are good principles to live by for anyone who wants to maintain their Christian beliefs in the business world. It is good to show Christians that they can make money ethically, and that there is nothing wrong with making money. While reading some of the principles, it is important to keep in mind that the principles when applied will work, but that God isn’t just going to make you wealthy because you are a Christian.

The problem I have with this book, is in regards to some of the scriptures used to make their point. There were a couple of scriptures taken out of context to make points that could have been made with more appropriate scriptures. An example is the use of Matthew 6:33. He uses this to make the point that God wants us to have our desires, but this scripture kept in context is actually about God taking care of our daily needs. There were only a few examples of this, and overall the book had good Biblical advice for those in the business world. I would recommend this book to anyone who has doubts about Christians and money as long as they keep their Bible close by to check the scripture references.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Chupacabra Blog Tour & Review

30 Oct

 

The Chupacabra by Stephen Randel ****

The Chupacabra: A Borderline Crazy Tale of Coyotes, Cash & Cartels

By Stephen Randel

 

233 pages

Publisher: Knuckleball Press

August 19, 2012

Genre: Dark Comedy

 

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Chupacabra-Borderline-Coyotes-ebook/dp/B009068D40/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1345579141&sr=8-1

 

Synopsis:

He is called El Barquero. He makes his trade along the border, smuggling guns and killing without remorse. As he faces his one last mission, his perfect plan is unwittingly foiled by Avery, a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone.

 

What unfolds is a laugh out loud dark comedy of madcap adventure stretching from Austin to the West Texas border featuring a lunatic band of civilian border militia, a group of bingo-crazed elderly ladies (one packing a pistol nearly as long as her arm), a murderous and double-crossing cartel boss, a burned-out hippy, and a crotchety retired doctor and his pugnacious French bulldog. Read it to believe it.

 

Bio:

Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs.

My Review: (****)

I was interested in this book because of the descriptions of the characters, especially the gun-toting grandma, and the book did not disappoint.

Avery, your garden variety nut case, manages to stumble on an extremely scary drug runner in his search for a chupacabra. He believes they are trying to take over North America and is out to prove his theory, when he is not busy sending threatening letters to anyone that crosses his path.

The story takes place in Texas, and the author definitely has a good understanding of people from Texas. I found myself laughing at the antics of the characters throughout the book, and I loved how their lives were able to cross in such interesting ways.

The dysfunctional militia group provides some great antics, as does Aunt Polly and her group of friends. Pearl, the gun-toting grandma, is definitely one scary woman. Avery is your typical nut-case who believes whole-heartedly in his own importance. His run-in with El Baquero probably does not help his delusions of grandeur.

While it is hard to explain everything about this book, it is definitely worth reading, particularly if you want a good laugh.

Who is God by David L. Jemison

18 Oct

Book Description: (from Book Sneeze website)

If you are one of those people who is not convinced that there is a God, this
book is for you. If you are one of those Christians who desire more power with
God, this is the right book for you. If you are one of those ministers who want
more power in your preaching and teaching, this is indeed the book for you, and
you will all want to read excerpts from it over and over. Many will want to use
it for a reference book.

 

My Review: *

 

I chose to read “Who is God” by David Jemison because I thought it would be a commentary on who God tells us He is. I was very surprised to find this book was about Mr. Jemison’s life story in ministry. He led us through the experiences in life that brought him to preaching. We did see how he felt God in his life during this time, but many of these stories were hard to believe or rang false for me.

I had a really hard time finishing this book because I found so much false doctrine. An example of this is Mr. Jemison’s discussion about Jesus as a unique being that never existed before he came to earth and will never exist again. This type of statement goes against the Bible which tells us that Jesus existed in the beginning and that we are to be like Him. I also found many of his stories about how God moved in his life hard to believe. Though God tells us that He has given us all we need to believe in Him, according to Mr. Jemison God did a personal miracle to bring his father to become saved. This salvation of course comes through a prayer that can never be found in the Bible. All in all, I was very disappointed in the book, and would not recommend for anyone to read, especially not someone who is not grounded enough in the Bible to see the contradictions in this book.

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“Wrecked” Review & Interview with Jeff Goins

24 Sep

I recently had the pleasure of reading Jeff Goins book “Wrecked”. I have been following his blog for a couple of months now, and I am always inspired by what he has to say, so it was an obvious decision to take another chance to be inspired by him.

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life

In his new book “Wrecked”, Jeff tells us what it means to be wrecked and how it happened to him. More than that though, he tells us what comes after your wrecked moment. The concept of this book is about choices. When we encounter the needs of other people, we have a choice; we can either break out of our comfort zone to do what needs to be done, or we can walk away and pretend we never saw anything.

Jeff gives some interesting examples of the times in his life when these wrecked experiences presented themselves. His stories are inspiring and relatable. One of the best things about this book is he makes it clear that you don’t have to do some grand gesture or ministry to fulfill your calling. In fact, sometimes what we are called to do are the mundane things that don’t seem as thrilling.

This book will definitely motivate you to look for opportunities around you. The only bad part about this book is that it can make you question how you’re living your life; then again, that might not be such a bad thing. “Wrecked” is definitely worth reading and sharing with someone else.

Interview with Jeff Goins

1)      What inspired you to write “Wrecked”?

I wrote Wrecked because I felt like it was a book that needed to be written. As part of the work I do for Adventures in Missions, I see LOTS of young people who are having radical, adventurous experiences. This generation knows it was intended for great things, but nobody is telling them how to commit to worthy causes. In other words, I wanted to see a book about what to do after you get wrecked (i.e. get your world turned upside-down). I couldn’t find one, so I wrote one.

2)      Who inspires you to live the wrecked life? How so?

So many people, some of which I mentioned in the book. One of the most inspiring people I know is my boss, Seth Barnes, who has mastered the art of living in the tension between daily commitments and radical lifestyle.

3)      What is the greatest fear you have had to overcome to get yourself where you are now? How were you able to overcome it?

I’ve struggled with fear of myself for awhile — of my gifts, my passions, my talents. It all feels so selfish to pursue a dream, but recently I’ve learned that a dream ISN’T selfish. Our dreams are given to us to serve others. So pursuing a passion can actually be one of the most selfless things we do.

4)      You mention a couple of instances where you had a “wrecked” experience. For those who are not able to experience these same things, what advice would you give them?

I think everyone can get wrecked in their own way. All you have to do is do something uncomfortable. We all have experiences that we’re afraid of, right? It seems that those who are living meaningful, courageous lives are pressing into those areas, not shrinking away from them. So my advice would be: press in.

5)      What has been your greatest experience in writing this book?

Coming home the day it was published (after a pretty crummy, stressful day) to a house full of friends. My wife arranged a surprise party, and it was just what I needed. For a night, I didn’t worry about book sales or marketing plans of critical reviews. For a night, I got to celebrate.

 

6)      Just for fun: If you could pick any song to be your theme song for your life, what would it be?

Mission Impossible theme, of course.

7)      Do you have any plans for similar books? Or what are your writing plans for the future?

I’m already working on my next book. It’ll be about waiting and should be out August, 2013.

Jeff Goins also has some great books published to help writers, so if you are interested in those you can check them out at his blog (link above). You can also follow his newsletter with great advice for growing your blog. If you have never checked out his blog, it is one I recommend!

Catch the Sun Blog Tour

11 Sep

 

Lee Zamloch’s book “Catch the Sun” is making a stop at Penny Lane Writes!

 

*** 1/2

I got a chance to read “Catch the Sun” recently, and it was a very interesting read.

Book Synopsis:

Marilyn Monroe begins appearing on Amanda Grace’s patio dancing, laughing at the moon and gazing at Amanda through the glass doors. Is it possible that Marilyn, against all reason, has somehow transported herself through time and space to contemporary Los Angeles? And why does she haunt Amanda, a model whose beauty is undeniable, but whose talent is questionable?

 

The visitations begin when Amanda’s mother, Edith, commits suicide, an event that shakes Amanda to her foundation. For, while she has been a successful model, she has always measured herself against her mother, a well-known artist who has overcome severe obstacles. But unlike Edith and her accomplished sister, Joanne, Amanda Grace has not distinguished herself intellectually or artistically, nor even managed to marry and have children. In her eyes, she has failed to live up to her mother’s expectations. Now, with Edith’s death, she has forever lost her chance to prove herself. In her grief, she forgets to eat, sleep, or carry on with life’s simplest tasks. The final blow comes when Amanda accidentally learns she was adopted. With the loss of her family as a touchstone, her foundation crumbles, and her fragile sense of self dissolves completely.

 

CATCH THE SUN is a story about how an obsession with a celebrity can impact the life of an ordinary woman. It explores our endless fascination with Marilyn Monroe’s fragility, beauty and dazzling rise and fall.

Review:

When I first read the description of this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. That being said, I actually found myself becoming very interested in the story. Meredith, a failing actress, begins to see Marilyn Monroe outside her apartment the night her mom kills herself. Meredith has spent her life trying, in her own way, to live up to her mom’s expectations, so the suicide is definitely a shock to her.

Her mom’s suicide is just the beginning of the surprises in store for her though. The author actually manages to make you feel sorry for this woman despite the glaringly obvious deficincies in her character. I found myself oddly concerned about someone I wouldn’t be able to stand if I met her in real life.

While the idea of Marilyn Monroe visiting this woman seems out of left field, the author does actually make a connection that proves to be very interesting. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I will say that the ending did not surprise me. I’m not sure it was meant to be a surprise though.

Give-Away:

For the exciting news, I have been given the chance to do a give-away for a copy of this book.

For a chance to win a copy, complete the entries in the rafflecopter giveaway below:

<a id=”rc-5597c91″ href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5597c91/” rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
<script src=”//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js”></script>

This give-away will end at 12:01 am EST on September 17, 2012, so get in there and enter for your chance to win.

About the Author:

Lee Zamloch lives on the Central Coast of California where she writes fiction. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals and she has won several honors for her writing including the Booklegger Award for best submission of the year from Toyon and honorable mentions from the Nelson Algren Award, and Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. She has published two novels which are available from Amazon.com in both print and kindle editions. She is currently at work on her next novel.

 

Lee has been a teacher, a consultant, a college professor and a program designer. She enjoys hiking, reading, traveling and romping with her two Siberian huskies, Sunny and Storm.

Catch the Sun can be purchased at Amazon.com