While some of the books I review on my site are furnished by the publishers, authors, or publicists for the purpose of review all of my reviews are truthful, honest, and my sincere opinion.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishing for letting me review this one.

About the Book

The One Year Book of Encouragement is a collection of insights from assorted Christian authors, past and present—from Oswald Chambers and Philip Yancey to John Calvin and John Wesley. Draw encouragement every day from the wisdom of the ages with this One Year book—it’s bound to be a classic!

For more information about The One Year Book of Encouragement please visit Tyndale House's website.

My Review

I really liked this one. Some of the people in the stories were extraordinary people - Mother Teresa, C. S. Lewis, Martin Luther, etc. However, the stories that were shared showed that even though they were extraordinary their situations were very normal.

Each story is followed with a prayer and a Bible verse. The prayers deal with things that we all deal with - struggling at work, dealing with temptation, houseguests, being gracious. It was nice to have these prayers. I know I sometime struggle with what to say in my prayers. I know God knows what I'm praying for but I can't exactly articulate it to myself. These short prayers sum things up nicely.

The only thing I would have liked to see with this is a "glossary" of the different problems. I think it would have been nice to be able to look for work in a glossary and find a few different prayers that will help you with what you're going through.

Overall, I thought this was a very a good book. It was kind of a nice reference for dealing with life through your spiritual growth.

Giveaway: The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Thank you to Sabrina @ Little, Brown for letting me give a copy of this one away!

This has to be my favorite Patterson book yet. It was fun to read and it was quick! But it really got me thinking about how quick my baby sister's wedding is going to be here. May really isn't that far away now. At least we all know who she's marrying :-) But there's so much more to be done. Nothing crazy has happened yet, but with my family it's only a matter of time, believe me.  

You can read about the book and see my review here.

Now for the giveaway :-) Thanks for entering!

Review: The Gods of Greenwich by Norb Vonnegut

Newman PR sent me a review copy.

About the Book

Forget about Bernie Madoff or Gordon Gekko—there’s a new villain on Wall Street…

Norb Vonnegut didn’t realize how close he skirted to non-fiction when he was writing his spectacular debut Top Producer. Penned before tumultuous revelations and scandals rocked the financial world in late 2008, Vonnegut’s novel depicts, with an insider’s solid knowledge, the tricks that the industry’s real top producers pull in their frenzied pursuit of billions. Now Vonnegut sets his electrifying follow-up in the high-rolling world of hedge funds, lending his seasoned perspective to a riveting thriller.

Jimmy Cusack is the tough kid from a blue-collar neighborhood who made good on Wall Street. Well, almost. After a sterling start to his career, things have soured. His hedge fund has collapsed. The bank is foreclosing on his upscale condominium. And his wife is two months pregnant. That’s the good news. When Cusack takes a “must-have” job with Leeser Capital, a Greenwich fund impervious to the capital market woes, his real troubles begin.

Vonnegut’s unique insider’s perspective and his intuitive, darkly humorous writing are once again on full display in this fast-talking suspense thriller. A high-stakes poker game of a book,The Gods of Greenwich is a timely and gripping read that will keep you glued to the edge of your seat until the last card is played.
For more information about The Gods of Greenwich please visit Macmillen's website.

You can also visit Norb Vonnegut's website or follow him on Twitter.

My Review

I have to admit that when the opportunity to review this book was presented to me I did it simply because the name Vonnegut was on it. Now I know he's just a distant cousin, but how great would it be for two (even distant) members of the same family to be great authors??

I really liked Cusack, the main character. He was so likeable. He has charisma and could probably sell anything to anyone, but he never was out to get anyone (well at least until the end of the book, but I can't give that away!). His wife Emi I saw as being so cute and innocent looking, the kind of person you couldn't hate if you wanted to. I didn't care for Cy, his wife Bianca, Victor, or Rachel. But I think that was the point. Although I wouldn't do it, what Bianca does to Cy was fun to read. She went about things in the wrong way, but revenge is awesome :-)

This one kept me guessing all the way through. We know Rachel is a murder but we don't really figure out how she's tied into the story for quite a while. We're told about the Art dealer and the Banker in Iceland are in huge problems of their own, and while we're clued in a bit to what's going on between them and Cy I didn't really catch on completely for quite a while. This one was so well written that I gave up even trying to guess how it would end because I was so engrossed in what was going on right now. I really liked the ending. It tied everything up pretty well, it wasn't cheesy, and it wasn't a "everyone is happy" ending.

Even though this was about Wall Street, which is something I have very little interest in, the story was so engaging that even when I didn't understand what the characters were talking about I didn't feel bored by it. There was so much going on, so many different parts to the story, that it was hard not to get caught up in the middle of everything.

So I picked this book because it had the name Vonnegut attached to it. Was I disappointed? NOT AT ALL! I think there's something in that blood line somewhere. I can honestly say after reading The Gods of Greenwich that two of my favorite authors share the same last name. Even though the writing was totally different it was written so well that there's really no comparison. It's like comparing your favorite jeans to your favorite desert. They're both great, which is why they're your favorites, and it would be really hard to pick which one you like better.

Review: Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby

I bought this one at the dollar store. Can't beat a good book for a buck!

About the Book

Theodore Mead Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age 12, he was in high school, and by 15 he was attending a top-ranking university. And now, at the tender age of 18, he's on the verge of proving the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has mystified academics for almost 150 years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly packs his bags and flees home to rural Illinois. What has caused him to flee remains a mystery to all but Mead and a classmate whose quest for success has turned into a dangerous obession.

At home, Mead finds little solace. His past ghosts haunt him; his parents don't understand the agony his genius has caused him, nor his desire to be a normal kid, and his dreams seem crushed forever. He embarks on a new life's journey -- learning the family business of selling furniture and embalming the dead--that disappoints and surprises all who knew him as "the young Fegley genius."

Equal parts academic thriller and poignant coming-of-age story, LIFE AFTER GENIUS follows the remarkable journey of a young man who must discover that the heart may know what the head hasn't yet learned.

For more information about Life After Genius please visit Hachette Book Group.
My Review

This was a weird one for me. I liked the story, even though it was a bit odd, but I didn't really connect with the main character. But the mystery of why Mead came home was pretty engaging. I just wanted to know why. The story jumps around through different times in Mead's life. It got to be a bit confusing at times, as Mead also seems to be having a bit of a nervous breakdown throughout the story. But the jumping around really adds to the mystery of what happened and if Mead really is starting to loose his mind.

Mead appears to have had a rough social life growing up. Being so smart and so much younger than the kids he's in school with made him a bit of a target for bullies and such. So it's really no surprise that once Mead goes to college young he's still an outcast. Herman, Mead's best friend/mortal enemy tries to befriend Mead for a while and has to take a HUGE step to get Mead to really open up. But as the story progresses we learn that while Herman seems to have been born with the silver spoon his life wasn't really all that easy.

Even though I didn't particularly care for either of the main characters there was something about this story that I couldn't walk away from. It was so out there at times and yet so "normal". It's so hard to describe. Even the ending was a bit odd, and it left more questions than it answered. But at the same time most of the really important stuff is cleared up before we get to the end. Like I said it's hard to describe... Overall I have to say I enjoyed it.

Review: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M, Auel

This one has  been sitting on my bookshelf for about 10 years now...

About the Book

The epic journey begun in The Clan of the Cave Bear, and furthered in The Valley of Horses continues in this stunning, vivid adventure. Once again Jean M. Auel opens the door of a time long past to reveal an age of wonder and danger at the dawn of the modern human race.

Riding a horse called Whinney and accompanied by Jondalar, the man she saved when wounded by a cave lion and has grown to love, Ayla comes to the land of the Mamutoi--the Mammoth Hunters. She has finally found the ones the Clan called “The Others,” people who look like her.

Though Ayla must learn their different customs and language, she is adopted because of her remarkable hunting ability, singular healing skills, and uncanny fire-making technique. Bringing back the single pup of a lone wolf she has killed, Ayla amazes the Mamutoi by demonstrating how she tames animals. Even though she faces some prejudice when it is revealed that she lived her early years among the Clan–the ones called “Flatheads”–Ayla at long last finds women friends and begins to put the pain of her past behind her.

As Ayla becomes more a part of Mamutoi society, she meets Ranec, the dark-skinned master carver of ivory. She becomes enamored and her passion for this new man makes Jondalar fiercely jealous. He compensates by avoiding her. Because of her early life with the Clan, his behavior is mystifying to her. She mistakes his anger and hurt for disinterest, and turns more fully to the charismatic Ranec. Throughout the icy winter she shelters with the Mamutoi, while Jondalar broods over his disappointment.

Then it is summer again, and as the great mammoth hunt approaches with its annual Matrimonial ritual, Ayla must finally choose: to stay with the Mamutoi who have become friends and mate with Ranec, or to choose Jondalar, and leave this sanctuary for the hardship of a journey toward his home
many miles, and many adventures, away.

For more information about The Mammoth Hunters of Jean M Auel you can visit her website or like her on Facebook

My Review

I've been working on this series off and on for about 12 years. I bought them right after I graduated high school and didn't realize at the time the mental fortitude this series takes to read. At 18 I just didn't have the patience to read 700 pages. But now that I'm a bit older I can really appreciate this series.

Since I did start the series 12 years ago I feel like Ayla's been a part of my life for quite a while. She pops in to say hello every few years. So I've really become attached to her. It's hard for me to criticize this book at all because I do love Ayla and Jondalar so much. But it took me forever to read The Mammoth Hunters. I started this book in the summer of 09 and had to put it down about half-way through. Partly because I had just finished reading The Valley of the Horses and partly because the romance scenes were becoming a bit too much for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from a prude (believe me) but it just felt like all Ayla and Jondalar did was make love.

I'm glad I picked it back up. As it really is a great story. Again, I do seem to have a bit of an attachment to Ayla and Jondalar so I may be a bit biased here, but I really do like this series. There are times when I think the descriptions go a bit more into detail than necessary, but they also create such a vivid picture as to where the characters are and what is going on. The Mammoth Hunters introduces us to so many new characters I didn't think I'd ever get them all straightened out, but as the story goes on I really didn't have any problems keeping track of everyone.

I obviously like the main characters but I really liked the Mammoth Hearth. Tulie, Talut, and Frebec are probably my favorite new characters. Frebec comes off as being a bit of a jerk at first but he's really loyal and protective. He also seems to have a bit of a soft side that, like most men, he was trying to hide. Tulie and Talut are great characters. They are strong, wise, serious, playful, and humorous all at the same time. They just seemed so real to me.

While I don't think I'll be reading Plains of Passage anytime in the near future, knowing it's sitting on my bookshelf is a bit of a comfort too me. When I decide I need to see what Ayla and Jondalar are up to I can just pick it up and start reading it. It's like a having one of those great friends that even if you don't talk for awhile you can sit down and have a conversation and it feels like no time has passed at all.