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Monday, October 20, 2014

"The Drop" Novel Review

The DropThe Drop by Dennis Lehane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great crime-noir drama that mirrors the likes of "Mystic River" and dare I say the epic "Heat" saga with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Bob is a bartender at his Cousin Marv's bar which acts as a "drop" for money being transferred between crime syndicates...Everything is hunky dory until the bar gets robbed and Bob and Marv have to come up with the money so that their lives aren't at stake. But there's more to the story that makes the reader interested.

Bob is a lonely man, but not in a creepy way. He attends regular mass and works frequently at the bar, yet he feels like his life isn't fulfilled. Others even question why he is so quiet and distant from everyone else...That changes when he finds a stray pit bull puppy in the trash, and his neighbor Nadia helps him nurse the puppy back to health. Believe it or not (and pet owners will understand completely where I'm coming from), Bob finds a sliver of happiness when he finds Rocco (christened after the patron saint of dogs and bachelors---clever touch I might add!), and even begins to bond more with Nadia. Both of these relationships save Bob and his "home life", especially when the going gets tough at work.

Theres great character development, multi-faceted story lines that intersect, and surprises that you may not see coming, especially one that explains why Bob seems to be so lonely. Did I mention that this is also the source material for Fox Searchlight's film version starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini? If it helps, imagine them as the characters and I guarantee you won't want to put it down.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess" Literary Review

Bible Stories for His Beautiful PrincessBible Stories for His Beautiful Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bedtime staple for young girls to read and learn about various Bible stories at a young age, with a colorful, pretty,

Disclaimer: I do not have any children. However, I am a teacher and future librarian, so that should have credibility in some shape or form. As a former Girl Scout leader, I also evaluated this text in regards to illustrations, language complexity and format.

Shepard's book is a compilation of various Bible stories in their [supposed] chronological order. Each story is condensed into about 50 word summaries that are interpreted from their corresponding Scripture reading. i.e) "Make me willing to obey you."-Psalm 51:12 is expanded into a retelling of Jonah and the Whale. The large font, simplicity of the language, and positive words used help young girls understand God's message. Aside from the simple stories, I think that readers will enjoy the illustrations the most. Not only is this book a princess theme, but it has watercolor and pen drawings of princesses (of various ethnicities--which was a HUGE plus for me!), flowers, and otherwise positive illustrations. Every character within every story was smiling, which put emphasis on the positive experience that is strived for while reading this book. PLUS, not only are there the Scriptures and Bible stories, but a Princess Prayer to say after the reader has completed the story, as well as a "Princess Jewel", or otherwise valuable piece of knowledge that the reading princess should take away for her crown of knowledge.

I consider this a valuable read that I would recommend to anyone with a young girl and wants to help them with their comprehension of Christian stories.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy!" Literary Review

Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthyHappy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy by J.T. Lundy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After receiving this book in the mail from Goodreads First Reads Giveaways, I was thoroughly impressed with this espionage parody and the adventurous misfortune that happened to besiege the protagonist throughout the fun, quirky plot.

Chris Thompson leads a simple life with a simple job, but receives a sporadic assignment from the President that then leads him onto a secret mission with guns, fast cars, political mysteries and the overall James Bond persona. His mission? McCarthyism is slowly inching its way back into the United States and he needs to stop it before its too late!

The premise of the book, along with memories of your US History class, may make you think twice about picking up this novel from author JT Lundy, but beware of a missed opportunity should you neglect to pick it up. Not only will you laugh out loud, you'll envision a story that reminds one of a slapstick comedy and spy thriller. It's "Pineapple Express" meets "Casino Royale", and the fusion is irresistible!

I received this book from Goodreads in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Run 4 Your Life!!!

It's Day 1 of half-marathon training! By that, I mean that Happy Gilmore and I decided to go for a Power Walk/Jog... Special thanks go out to Franklin, Indiana for developing a nice looking walking trail... We started from across the street and walked to the trail on the other side of Webb Elementary School, where we then stopped to oogle at a black lab puppy's first walk. (He was adorable!) After that, we ran about a quarter mile in the 42 degree weather.. Things I'm proud of: 1. I had the gumption to put on my sneakers and walk across to a place that I was unfamiliar with to start my training. I think it really helped that I had my dog with me, because it made me look a) less like a creep, and b) a friend that was going to be there with me (yes, cheesy I know). 2. I actually ran! I didn't run as much as I wanted to, but I ran by golly! That's always the first step! 3. I didn't gorge on food when I returned! In fact, I prepared juice smoothies for breakfast this week, which will save me money and time in the morning instead of hitting up Starbucks. However, I am hungry, so I will be needing to eat soon. Things to improve on: 1. I'm hungry.... need to fix that asap. But lately, I've been looking into the Runner's World cookbook so I have recipes for my personal needs. I think it'll be a good idea to snack on a healthy carb before I run, but then recover with something afterwards. Research is still commencing... 2. Happy's bathroom timing. I was in the middle of a kick-butt attitude when someone had to stop me and tinkle. Oh well, at least I had the best of both worlds: a running buddy with an empty tank. :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Lookaway, Lookaway" Audiobook Review

Lookaway, LookawayLookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To satisfy the Southern stereotype that is projected consistently by narrator Scott Shepard, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a cool mint julep that soothes the reader's soul but leaves them woozy with family drama that rivals mobster movies and reality television shows.

Jerene Jarvis Johnston is a classic Southern belle who will do anything to maintain the class and integrity of her retired politician husband, and their four children, Beau, Annie, Josh and Jerelynn, despite decades of scandal and mishaps that targets the honorable Johnston name. Not only is this drama an entertaining read due to the engaging plot, but the presentation of the story from different characters perspectives just add even more to the story-- every family member has something to contribute to the family name, regardless if they want to or not. And get ready- actions have consequences, and this audiobook has the reader screaming at the characters ready to realize something pivotal...before it's too late.

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"Dune" Literary Review

Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hailed as a Science-Fiction masterpiece, there are many reasons why anyone who considers themselves an intellectual should pick up Herbert's classic.

1. There is a TON of planning in it! Down to political views, ecological standpoints, and hierarchies, there is nothing that comes close to the exemplary structure that unfolds within this three "book" compilation that takes place on a fictional, futuristic planet. However, one thing that I struggled with was losing track of what was going on. Read this in a secluded area, away from distraction, both physical and mental. AKA, reading this while starting back to school was NOT a good idea.

2. Paul, a "chosen one" figure, is well-developed, but what I particularly enjoyed was the development of others around him. Most stories with this stereotype, tend to focus on that character and their entirety, whereas this is not the case.

3. Sci-Fi addict? READ THIS BOOK! Nuff said. Whether you're hard-core, occasional or the oncer who has picked up a futuristic novel, then you would enjoy this novel.... If you've never picked up a Sci-Fi delectable, dive into something simpler, such as "Ender's Game" or even Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" to get an idea of the structure and absurdity.

Overall, a great book, there's no denying that, but this was a struggle for me to get through. I had to keep turning back due to distraction and it was a difficult read that I couldn't wait to shelve onto the "no way no how" shelf, simply because I couldn't wait for it to end and I could pick something else to read. :(

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

"A Call to Resurgence" Literary Review

A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? by Mark Driscoll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being offered a chance to read and review this title, I began with the mindset that I would be learning more about the decline of Christianity during today's modern digital age, and I expected an explanation about what was happening and solutions to the problem. What I found while reading Pastor Mark Driscoll's title was more like a war manual of sorts that explained the decline, guided the reader towards different paths in which an individual could take, as well as begin to attack the issue itself, which is something that is essential to a text that wants to solve a problem. "A Call to Resurgence" does a marvelous thing: it explains, exhibits and enhances the topic of the Resurgence, a topic that is prominent with those who are seeking religious salvation. However, as many statistics throughout the book state, there aren't that many individuals who are on the side of the Resurgence.

Driscoll provides many statistics throughout his book to help enhance his argument, which sets the stage like any other solution book on the market. The book begins with the basic statistic that only 8% of Americans are classified as Evangelical Christians, which is less than the amount of left-handed people, Texans or even pet cats that are in America. This 8% haunts you as a reader, and you become part of the mission to raise that number as you continue reading. But what was the main issue in the first place? How did Christendom die? The rise of various political platforms on the national stage as well as the promotion of civil religion and borrowed faith instead of the "raw devotion" to the gospel of Jesus Christ, whom Driscoll reiterates as "humanity's one and only hope". As a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Driscoll continues evaluation the causes of death of Christendom, beginning with the idea of uniting various "tribes", which I interpreted through his elaborate explanation as the different denominations of Christianity. How does one do this? Identify the elements of your "tribe" (meaning understand your beliefs), then unite with others to begin promoting the message. Driscoll even tailors his argument to satisfy today's digital age by suggesting education, books, as well as the Internet. Considering that 61% of Americans say that they wish they read the Bible more than they do currently, the union of tribes could result in an initiative.

As someone who is not devotional in religious practices, this book was very informative in the different aspects of providing information on the subject, Driscoll is credible, well-spoken with his stories, statistics, and elaboration on the topics that could be otherwise considered dull and boring. He shows a drive to share this topic. However, with readers who are seeking a "how-to" manual, this is not a simple one. There is a lot of religious terminology that if you are unfamiliar with, you could become entirely lost, but nothing that a simple "Google" search wouldn't fix.

I received this book from NetGalley via the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest opinion in this review.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Literary Review: "Matched"

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first in a less popular series, yet is praised as being well written for the Young Adult dystopian romance literature genre.

Cassia is a young woman who is about to be Matched-a procedure in which the Society chooses your match that you will spend the rest of your life with. She's ecstatic that it's Xander, her best friend, but what happens when theres a glitch and shows someone else's face for a brief moment? Not only does Cassia begin to question how she is supposed to feel, but everything else that the Society has created...

For fans of futuristic literature, dystopian literature, or an overall love triangle story that is well presented through elegant prose and dialogue. You will not want to put this one down as the story unfolds.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

"The Cuckoo's Calling" Literary Review

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well my friends and followers, here comes a review that you may not be so thrilled to read, but nevertheless, contains criticism over "The Cuckoo's Calling".

It took me forever to get through this book! Not only was it an extremely lengthy book, but it really didn't pick up until Part Three in the midst of Strike's investigation. It was a huge trial for me to get past all of the tedious investigative questions and various character interactions, but even more so to watch the protagonist, Comoran Strike's growth. He is a detective hired to investigate the Cuckoo's (a supermodel) death, yet he grapples with his own relationship issues and identity. He sleeps in his office, is tended to by a temp secretary, Robin--who I wish I had read more of in this book-- and happens to sneak his way into interviews and meetings to further his inquiries. I was too absorbed in my own impatience to enjoy this book... And the fact that this is Rowling's post-Potter work makes me frown all the much more... yes I know there wasn't going to be magic, but still, I wanted a magical reading experience with this book.

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"XMEN: First Class" Literary Review

X-Men: First Class, Volume 1: Tomorrow's BrightestX-Men: First Class, Volume 1: Tomorrow's Brightest by Jeff Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quick graphic novel compilation of various adventures with the Xmen... What I really enjoyed was the connections to the rest of the Marvel universe, such as the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and even Spider-Man. Good text for readers to engage with plot sequencing. Biggest issue? Lots of plot gaps that need filled in by more graphic ovens. Oh the torture of buying more comic books!

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