August 20, 2013

Bless This Food by Adrian Butash

Bless This Food by Adrian Butash is a collection of prayers and blessings to say at mealtime. It features 160 such blessings from a variety of cultures and religions. If you enjoy saying mealtime blessings for your family, this is a book you’ll want to read!

Book Description
Grace before meals is the prayer said most often in homes around the world, an act of worship common to every known society. The universal experience of sharing food fundamentally connects people to one another, to nature, and to the infinite. Expressing thanks for food represents a wonderful tradition that acknowledges bounty and our daily sustenance as gifts from the divine.

Bless This Food presents 160 timeless mealtime blessings in an easy-to-use format. The eloquent prayers and poems have been carefully selected from the world’s major religions, ancient traditions, and the work of great poets and thinkers, with sources ranging from Shakespeare to Starhawk, Tecumseh to the Tamil tradition, the North American plains to Pakistan. Each grace is introduced with cultural context and details about its history and evolution. Also included are two prayers in American Sign Language and the short prayer “bless this food” in nineteen languages. The result is a unique kind of soul food — and a recipe for gratitude at any mealtime gathering.
” – Bless This Food

My Thoughts
Bless This Food is a beautifully gathered collection of prayers of gratitude for the food we eat. If you and your family say a blessing before meals, this is definitely a book that you would enjoy reading and incorporating some of the blessings into mealtimes in the future. The explanations on the blessings are also great mealtime conversation that will help everyone learn more about the different cultures covered in the book.

Overall, this is a fun and educational read. I especially liked reading about the history of the different blessings. I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the other cultures that differ from my own when it comes to these mealtime blessings. I definitely recommend this book, and I also think it would make a great present for someone you know who enjoys saying mealtime blessings, too.

* Thank you to the publisher of Bless This Food, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 18, 2013

Grace, Under Pressure by Sophie Walker

Grace, Under Pressure by Sophie Walker is the story of the author’s experience raising a child with Asperger’s syndrome. To help deal with it, she trained for the London Marathon, and found courage and determination in herself, and her daughter, Grace.

Book Description
By the time her daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Sophie Walker’s life had unraveled. Her career was in disarray. She couldn’t sleep. She and her husband had divorced. All the while, Grace, whom Sophie had once hoped was merely shy, was withdrawn and sullen — and suffering. When Sophie remarried and had another daughter, the baby’s development forced Sophie to recognize how much Grace needed — everything from advocacy for her educational rights and protection from bullying to help with homework and making friends. When Sophie realized she was neglecting her own health and well-being — common among caregivers — she decided to train for the London Marathon. At the same time, she started the Grace Under Pressure blog to document her and her daughter’s trials and triumphs. The blog captivated readers with its honesty and real-world inspiration, as will this book of the same name.” – Grace, Under Pressure

My Thoughts
Grace, Under Pressure is such an uplifting and motivational book for people who are raising children with autism, or any other special need. As the author discovered, dealing with the situation makes you feel alone, filled with worries, and depressed. However, you aren’t alone! The author does an excellent job of really sharing her story with those who read this book, to inspire them to keep moving and be the best they can be in the situation.

I love that the author shares so much of her story and her daughter’s story with her readers. She is very honest and this honesty is what makes this book so valuable to people going through struggles in life. Her suggestions and examples can be used in many different situations in life, and for many different types of struggles people face. Her courage is an exemplary force that is inspiring. I admire her for everything she has done and continues to do to help this cause, and of course, her daughter.

This is the perfect book for someone who is going through similar struggles, and for anyone who needs some courage or motivation in their life. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Grace, Under Pressure, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 15, 2013

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon is a completely new version of the fairy tale “Rapunzel” and “Snow White.” See the characters and stories weaved together in a creative and captivating new way in this novel.

Book Description
In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.

Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.

The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?” – The Fairest of Them All

My Thoughts
The Fairest of Them All is a book that takes my love of fairy tales and creative retelling of classics to the next level. I really enjoyed this version of the stories, and if you are a fan of fairy tales, I think you’d enjoy this novel, too.

Carolyn Turgeon is a very creative writer to take these stories and show how Rapunzel becomes Snow White’s evil stepmother. I never would have thought of doing so, but how she explains it, it really does make sense, and it just works. Her passion for the stories and her new spin on them really shines through in her writing.

The characters were mostly already known, but this novel goes into much more depth with them and really brings them to life. Personally, I enjoyed how the character worked with these popular fairy tale characters and gave them different qualities than we are used to seeing them with.

The author writes in a smooth and crisp way that makes for a very easy and enjoyable read. It isn’t too overly wordy or full of pages or paragraphs that don’t really matter. I didn’t find myself wanting to skim over anything, or thinking about how many pages were left in it. I just became involved in the story and read it like a good novel should be enjoyed.

This novel is one of my favorite new takes on classic fairy tales, and I can’t wait to read more from this very talented author. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Fairest of Them All, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 14, 2013

Logitech Speaker System Z906 Review

Looking for a high quality speaker system for your home entertainment? The Logitech Speaker System Z906 features amazing surround sound, satellite speakers that are mountable, and a wireless remote to control it all effortlessly. Read this review of the Logitech Speaker System Z906 to find out more!

Logitech Speaker System Z906 Features

This THX-Certified 5.1 system delivers 500 watts (RMS) of theater-quality sound. Digital and analog inputs, an easy-to-read-and-stack control console and a wireless remote let you take charge of your entertainment.


500-watts (RMS) of powerMake any night opening night. You get thunderous audio that can shake your house—and your whole neighborhood.


THX Certified - You’ve got quality you can count on—these speakers have met strict performance standards to achieve THX certification.


Digital Decoding - Hear every detail all around you—from the roar of the crowd to the footsteps right behind you—in your Dolby digital or DTS encoded soundtracks.


Digital and Analog Inputs - You’ve got the flexibility to set up your system the way you want to. Connect up to six audio sources, including your TV, Blu-ray™/DVD player, DVR, Xbox 360®, PLAYSTATION®3, Wii®, iPod®, PC and more.


Easy to Read Control Console - The stackable, easy-to-read design fits in with your home-entertainment system and gives you control of your audio—change the volume on all your speakers, turn the power on or off, set inputs and more.


Wireless Remote - You can control your listening experience without ever getting off the couch.


Ported, Side-firing Subwoofer - 165 watts of deep bass brings your music, movies and games to life.


Wall-mountable Satellites - Let you transform any room into a home theater.


Surround Sound with 3D Stereo - Your speakers convert two-channel stereo into an immersive surround sound experience.” – Logitech Speaker System Z906

My Thoughts
This is a serious speaker system that is perfect for the home theater or big-time gamers. If you are looking for high quality speakers for your at home theater experience, or for your favorite video games, this is definitely a system you need to check out.

The cable that comes with the product is designed for computer use. However, it can also be used with TVs, Blu-ray and DVD players, gaming consoles, music players, and other audio devices. To do so though, you need to use a digital optical, digital coaxial, RCA audio, or 3.5 mm out.

Setting up the speaker system was a little bit intimidating for me at first. I hadn’t ever set up a system quite like this before, so I made sure that everything was placed right, and was able to hookup to the subwoofer before I started. The user documentation guide that came with it explained how to set it up, and this really does help – if you read it. Once I started hooking it up, it all worked out like how it was supposed to.

I haven’t hooked it up to anything other than my computer as of right now. I would like to add my TV to this great speaker system soon though. I’ve used these speakers for playing video games, listening to music, and watching movies with. All of the media I’ve tested this out with have sounded extremely clear and is of very high quality. The sound can also be very loud without distorting. I’m very pleased with the audio output on these speakers!

The control console is easy to read and understand what is being used. The remote is simple and again, easy to use. Nothing too fancy is really needed for these, so it works well.

The only thing I didn’t really like about them is that they aren’t wireless. Having the wires everywhere is a little bit of an eyesore, but it is worth it for this kind of sound quality. There could also be some design improvements and the components could be smaller and consume less electricity. Maybe a future system from Logitech will improve on these, but until then, this is an amazing speaker system. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure: Thank you to Logitech for providing me with the product for review. All opinions, experiences, and thoughts about the product being reviewed are my own.

August 13, 2013

Speak of the Devil by Allison Leotta

Speak of the Devil by Allison Leotta is a legal thriller starring the series heroine, Anna Curtis, the federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington D.C. Dealing with dark themes that are inspired closely by real crimes the author prosecuted, this is one truly worthy read for fans of this genre.

Book Description
On the very night she gets engaged to the man she loves, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis’s professional life takes a shocking turn that threatens everything she holds dear.

While Anna is enjoying a romantic dinner capped off by a marriage proposal, a few miles away two separate groups are gearing up to raid a brothel. A vicious killer known as Diablo—the Devil—leads one group. A few minutes later, Anna’s own investigative team heads in to search the brothel, as part of the fight against human trafficking in D.C. Both groups are caught off guard, with deadly results.

As Anna investigates the bloody face-off, the boundaries between her work and home life begin to blur. Though eager to focus on her new fiancé, the chief homicide prosecutor Jack Bailey, and her soon-to-be stepdaughter, Olivia, this case and the search for Diablo are never far from her mind.

When Anna discovers a web of long-buried secrets and official lies leading straight to her doorstep, the truth about this case threatens to rob her of the happiness she seemed so close to securing. And everything Anna counted on becomes a question mark as Diablo moves in for yet another kill.” – Speak of the Devil

My Thoughts
Speak of the Devil is a crime story that surrounds the life of Anna Curtis, a young prosecutor in Washington D.C. She is at a good place in her life now, but when she realizes that the very scary criminal world is coming too close to her personal life, everything can change.

I really enjoy reading the stories that the author writes about Anna Curtis. She is strong, smart, and the kind of woman we need more of in the world. In this book, you see her more vulnerable, but that only made me like her character more.

The author’s personal experiences working as a real life sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington D.C. definitely shines through in her writing. She writes with precision on the topic that goes beyond what someone merely researching the subject to write about could dream of doing. She is a star in her field of work, and I will definitely be reading more books by her in the future.

Speak of the Devil is an intense story that fans of this genre will appreciate. If you enjoy a good crime story, be sure to read this book! I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Speak of the Devil, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Multiple Exposure by Ellen Crosby

Multiple Exposure by Ellen Crosby is the author’s first novel in the new “Sophie Medina Mystery” series. The main character is Sophie Medina who is a photojournalist who finds herself in the middle of conspiracies, international politics, and much more.

Book Description
When photojournalist Sophie Medina returns to London from an overseas assignment, she discovers that her husband, Nick, a geologist and covert CIA operative, has been abducted. Three months later she is shocked when a friend in the British government says Nick has been spotted in Moscow and is not only a suspect in his boss’s murder but also potentially involved in illicit Russian oil deals. With her every step now closely watched, Sophie moves to Washington, D.C., to be with her family and friends. 

There, Sophie is drawn deeper into Nick’s shadowy world. While photographing an exhibit of two never-before-seen FabergĂ© imperial eggs at the National Gallery of Art, Sophie is confronted by a Russian oil tycoon, implicating her husband in an international energy scheme. On the run from Nick’s enemies, Sophie plays a high-stakes game of Russian roulette as she tries to determine friend from foe and prove her husband’s innocence. 

Weaving together political intrigue, art history, and international espionage, the fast-paced Multiple Exposure is the thrilling first installment in an exciting new series.” – Multiple Exposure

My Thoughts
Multiple Exposure is a suspenseful mystery novel that I really enjoyed reading. The author did a really fabulous job with her character crafting, and I absolutely want more from Sophie Medina. Thankfully, this is a new series, so we can continue to read more about her. Her missing husband is also a big part of the story, but his working for the CIA is of course a big part of the political drama that Sophie ends up having to face as well.

The backstory to the character, and essentially, the series, is a little bit slow. However, I think that it works out well overall and includes essential information that the reader needs to fully engross themselves in the series. After the backstory melds into the current situations, it moves quickly and is a breeze to read through. The pace is just right, and at least for me, kept me up late to finish.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. The author writes in a very flowing manner that makes it an easy and fun read. I can’t wait to read more from this series, and the author. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Multiple Exposure, Scribner, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Walk Through the Dark by Eva Piper

A Walk Through the Dark by Eva Piper is an account of the author’s experience of being a caretaker for her husband after he had an accident, and was dead for a short time before being brought back to life.

Book Description
One day Eva Piper was an elementary school teacher, the mother of three, the beloved wife of a strong, protective husband.
 The next day she stood at the bedside of a broken man who could do nothing but moan in agony and turn his head away from her.
 Later she would learn that he had died and actually experienced heaven before being prayed back to life—a true miracle. Don Piper’s testimony, told in the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven, would one day bring hope to thousands. But all that was in the future. Despite family and friends who kept vigil with her, Eva Piper found herself essentially alone. Walking in the dark. And she had always hated the dark.
 Though it parallels that of her husband, Eva Piper’s account is quite different from his. It takes readers not to heavenly places but through a very earthly maze of hospital corridors, insurance forms, tiring commutes from home to workplace and hospital, and lonely hours of waiting and worrying. This is the story of a woman learning, step by darkened step, to go places she never thought she could go and growing into a person she never thought she could be. Packed with hard-earned wisdom about what it means to be a caregiver, to open yourself to the care of others, and to rest in God’s provision, this book provides a dependable source of light to help you walk through the dark.” – A Walk Through the Dark

My Thoughts
A Walk Through the Dark is a detailed account about the author’s experience with her husband’s accident and (short) death. It details her life going through the experience and being a caretaker, but also how with the help of others, she got through this very difficult time in her life.

The author writes factually, and to the point. There isn’t as much emotion and expression as I thought there would have been for someone who went through such an experience. You can tell that this co-author (Cecil Murphey) had an influence over the book, and it isn’t really a good thing. I didn’t feel like it flowed very well and somewhere in the editing, the passion of the story was lost.

I thought that this book would have covered more about the author’s husband’s journey to heaven. He subtitle does say “How my husband’s 90 minutes in heaven deepended my faith for a lifetime.” However, not much is covered at all about this, maybe two pages, and it is detailed very plainly. I guess the story is more about the author’s personal journey through being a caretaker, but it was still a little bit misleading based on the subtitle.

Overall, this is an okay book. If you or someone you know is a caregiver, they may enjoy this book. However, someone going through a similar experience, probably wouldn’t have the time to read it.

* Thank you to the publisher of A Walk Through the Dark, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review as part of their Book Sneeze program. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 12, 2013

Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal

Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal is the book to kick your motivation into gear to start that business you have always dreamed of. If you don’t know what you could do, this book can help focus your interests into something you could possibly turn into a business, if you are inspired enough to do so.

Book Description
Have you ever wondered if it's possible to make a career out of something you love? Or how to march through life with a purpose and get the most out of every second? Miki Agrawal, entrepreneur, angel investor, and cool-sh*t-doer, has figured it out. Here Miki shares her own adventures in entrepreneurship and life, from learning to step out of her comfort zone in a foreign country to achieving her dream of playing soccer for the New York Magic to partnering with Tony Hsieh of to launch her dream business.

In Do Cool Sh*t, Miki shows you how to start your own business, fund it on a shoestring budget, convene the perfect group to brainstorm your business plan, test your product, get great (free) press coverage, and more—all while living a life you're proud of.

Miki pulls back the curtain to reveal how you can live out loud, honor your hunches, and leave nothing on the table. She reminds you that it's cool to care and be excited about ideas and to be proactive; it's cool to mess up; it's cool to work your ass off on something that is meaningful to you; and it's cool to keep trying when the odds are stacked against you. Whether you're about to graduate from college and are wondering what the heck you want to do with your life, or you are in a dead-end job, dreaming about starting your own business, Do Cool Sh*t will make you open your eyes, laugh out loud, and shout, "I can do that!"” – Do Cool Sh*t

My Thoughts
Do Cool Sh*t is a very good motivational tool for people who want to start a business of any type. Although the author’s experiences are detailed often throughout the book, she also does an excellent job of giving advice, tips, and more to help the readers learn how to do it for themselves too.

Miki Agrawal’s experience in the business world can teach us beginners a lot about it – without having to make the mistakes some people do. Learn how to talk to new people, and make real connections with people besides blindly networking with professionals. Find out how you can start your business on a small budget, and then expand it with investors who have a real interest in seeing you and your company succeed.

Consider this book your personal invitation to start the career you’ve always wanted. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Do Cool Sh*t, Harper, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 11, 2013

Shoot the Dog by Brad Smith

Shoot the Dog by Brad Smith is a novel about the film industry, the people who work in it, and the people who accidentally become involved in it. This is more of a satirical novel than a mystery, but could definitely be enjoyed by people who like both styles of writing.

Book Description
In upstate New York, Virgil Cain is drawing hay behind his team of massive Percherons when two movie scouts show up and offer $500 a day to use the horses in a film to be shot in the area. Virgil, in need of cash, reluctantly pockets the money, but he soon finds the chaotic set of Frontier Woman to be more trouble than it’s worth. Savvy producer Sam Sawchuk is in over her head; when she’s not propping up her talent-challenged husband-cum-director, she’s trying to keep tabs on a new inves­tor, the Native American casino owner Ronnie Red Hawk, a rambling egomaniac with designs on an infamous starlet. When the film’s leading lady turns up dead, Virgil discovers that more is at stake than the carnal interests of a casino magnate and the production of a major motion picture. And although he’d rather leave the whole bunch to stew in their own juices, he realizes he needs to step in before a charming ten-year-old actress named Georgia becomes the next victim.” – Shoot the Dog

My Thoughts
Shoot the Dog is the type of novel that is more character driven and satirical than most books I read. However, I did enjoy reading this one. It is smartly written and above all else, entertaining.

The characters are developed very well. I especially enjoyed reading about the horse Bob, who wasn’t camera shy at all. I would have loved to have seen more of this in the book. I also really liked the ten year old actress, Georgia who reminded me of Dakota Fanning at that age. There are other sleazy movie producer types in there, but I don’t really want to waste this review on them because I didn’t personally like any of them.

The movie being filmed in the book is a period piece set in the 1840s. It is very stereotypical and the actual experience of it all seemed a bit draining. It definitely wasn’t the highlight of the book for me like it should have been. I mean, I like movies, and I like books, so it should have been a sure thing. Somehow it just didn’t quite click like it could have for me. Although I did like the story, it could have been better.

Overall, this is a good novel. It is a nice slow read that really delves into the characters. It could have been more action packed and more to the point, but it is still worth reading.

* Thank you to the publisher of Shoot the Dog, Scribner, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 4, 2013

The Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova

The Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova is a novel that weaves in science, supernatural, history, and fantasy together brilliantly. It spans a long period of time, and includes memorable characters that could perhaps chill you to the core. If you are looking for a good novel to read by a debut author, be sure to read this book!

Book Description
The Empress Anna Ioannovna has issued her latest eccentric order: construct a palace out of ice blocks. Inside its walls her slaves build a wedding chamber, a canopy bed on a dais, heavy drapes cascading to the floor—all made of ice. Sealed inside are a disgraced nobleman and a deformed female jester. On the empress’s command—for her entertainment—these two are to be married, the relationship consummated inside this frozen prison. In the morning, guards enter to find them half-dead. Nine months later, two boys are born.

Surrounded by servants and animals, Prince Alexander Velitzyn and his twin brother, Andrei, have an idyllic childhood on the family’s large country estate. But as they approach manhood, stark differences coalesce. Andrei is daring and ambitious; Alexander is tentative and adrift. One frigid winter night on the road between St. Petersburg and Moscow, as he flees his army post, Alexander comes to a horrifying revelation: his body is immune to cold.” – The Age of Ice

My Thoughts
The Age of Ice is a hauntingly beautiful novel. I am very surprised that such a good book is the debut novel by the author. I honestly cannot wait to read more from this author in the years to come. This is definitely one author to watch.

The main character, Alexander, has a condition with cold which makes him a very unique character to read about. His personality is icy, but so is he, literally. When his emotions are too much (for the good or bad), his body temperature drops so low that he won’t even melt snow. His relationships suffer from this, and his character’s journey is a long and icy one.

I really enjoyed how Sidorova was able to weave into this novel historical fact while still keeping the supernatural element very much alive throughout the story. This novel will consume you like a blizzard, so be prepared to have some time off when reading this novel. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Age of Ice, Scribner, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King

A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King is a novel about superheroes, very much like a comic book, but in novel form. This uniquely blended novel also features beautiful illustrations of the story throughout the book.

Book Description
A tour de force debut novel from a former CIA counterterrorism officer, A Once Crowded Sky fuses bombastic, comic-book-style storytelling with modern literary fiction. Supermen stripped of their powers must wrestle danger in a world without heroes.” – A Once Crowded Sky

My Thoughts
A Once Crowded Sky is a novel mixed with the soul of a comic book. King has weaved the two together in a very unique way. He is able to capture the story as a novel, and also add in beautiful illustrations for the characters in the story. I would have liked more of the illustrations (and in color), but I’ll take what I can get.

This is an exciting superhero comic book style story. It features characters that are well formed, and a very readable storyline about humanity that fans of this genre will appreciate. Superheroes that gave up their powers for the good of humanity is the main reason that they made the sacrifice, but you’ll learn about them in inspiring and detailed ways throughout the novel.

I enjoyed reading this book, and imagine that it could be turned into a brilliant movie. If you are a fan of comic books or movies based off those stories, I think that you would enjoy this novel. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of A Once Crowded Sky, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 3, 2013

The Revolution Was Televised by Alan Sepinwall

The Revolution Was Televised by Alan Sepinwall is a look at twelve of television dramas that changed the way we view TV and society as a whole. This is a great book for fans of these series, and a good guide for good TV series to catch up on.

Book Description
In The Revolution Was Televised, celebrated TV critic Alan Sepinwall chronicles the remarkable transformation of the small screen over the past fifteen years. Focusing on twelve innovative television dramas that changed the medium and the culture at large forever, including The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, Sepinwall weaves his trademark incisive criticism with highly entertaining reporting about the real-life characters and conflicts behind the scenes. 

Drawing on interviews with writers David Chase, David Simon, David Milch, Joel Surnow and Howard Gordon, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and Vince Gilligan, among others, along with the network executives responsible for green-lighting these groundbreaking shows, The Revolution Was Televised is the story of a new golden age in TV, one that’s as rich with drama and thrills as the very shows themselves.” – The Revolution Was Televised

My Thoughts
The Revolution Was Televised is a book about the important television shows that changed our culture. The author has the dream job for fans of TV – he gets to watch it and write about it for a living! I’m not gonna lie, I am jealous. I can only dream of having such an awesome job that would actually pay for everything I need.

The TV critic focuses down on his top picks of shows that changed TV and our culture forever. The top twelve include:  and Breaking Bad.

I am a big fan of quite a few listed, namely The Sopranos, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Lost. I even have those as a complete collection on DVD. As I said, I am a big fan of great television. I have seen the others, at least an episode here and there, and I had of course heard of them. You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard of at least one of these shows.

The sections on the shows capture the history of them, the people involved that made it so amazing, and why it meant so much for our culture. These shows really did change how we view TV and revolutionized what was accepted in our society as a whole.

There are many interesting facts and behind the scenes information that fans of these TV series will enjoy reading. If you haven’t seen the series that you are reading about, it may make you want to go watch it, too. For me though, it made me want to pull out my DVDs of my favorite shows and watch them all over again.

Fans of TV will definitely appreciate this book. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Revolution Was Televised, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 2, 2013

Death By Living by N.D. Wilson

Death By Living by N.D. Wilson is a beautifully written book about life, death, and what is in-between. This is the type of book that gets us to look at our life right now and start cherishing the moments we are having right now.

Book Description
A poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life.
In this astoundingly unique book, best-selling author N.D. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. Every second we create more of our past—more decisions, more breathing, more love, and more loathing. All of it slides by into the gone as we race to grab at more moments, at more memories made and already fading.
 We are all authors, creators of our own pasts, of the books that will be our lives. We stare at the future or obsess about the present, but only the past has been set in stone, and we are the ones setting it. When we race across the wet concrete of time without purpose, without goals, without laughter and love and sacrifice, then we fail in our mortal moment. We race toward our inevitable ends without artistry and without beauty.
 All of us must pause and breathe. See the past, see your life as the fruit of providence and thousands of personal narratives. What led to you? You did not choose where to set your feet in time. You choose where to set them next.
 Then we must see the future, not just to stare into the fog of distant years but to see the crystal choices as they race toward us in this sharp foreground we call the present. We stand in the now. God says create. Live. Choose. Shape the past. Etch your life in stone, and what you make will be forever.” – Death By Living

My Thoughts
Death By Living is a book with a deep vision that shows us that we are living and dying all at the same time. It is the one place we will all end up in the end, and something we cannot escape. What we do right now is what sets the pace for our life’s journey, and what happens in the future depends on right now.

The author excellently captures the past, present, and future in everyday situations and objects. He brings in humor to the book in unexpected ways that you will want to read out loud to others to share. It is an brilliant use of prose that is meant to be shared with others.

This book does reference the gospel, but not in the preachy annoying way that some books do. This one is able to be truly enjoyed, and I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Death By Living, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review as part of their Booksneeze program. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan is the real historical account of the women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II. It was a home to 75,000 people who worked secretly on the project, not even knowing what they were working on for the government. Read about this important and sadly forgotten part of American history in this book.

Book Description
At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians—many of them young women from small towns across the South—were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war—when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it—women who are now in their eighties and nineties—The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage.” – The Girls of Atomic City

My Thoughts
The Girls of Atomic City is a history lesson that is interesting, memorable, and shows a part of America’s past that I never knew happened until I read this book. It is extremely well researched and executed to make this a fascinating book that I couldn’t put down.

I really enjoyed how this story was told through the memories of the women who worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during the time it was in use during World War II. This made it more readable and personal. The nine women featured in the book represent the thousands that worked there, but their stories are the ones heard, and helped to bring this part of history back to life.

This is a book that all women should read. It represents what some women were doing during World War II, but shows how women were strong leaders and helped to fight the war, too. I enjoyed reading this very much, and will probably read it again in the future. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Girls of Atomic City, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Stargazey Point by Shelley Noble

Stargazey Point by Shelley Noble is a good beach read perfect to read this summer. This novel is perfect for fans of Southern style chic-lit and those who enjoy a good romance.

Book Description
Devastated by tragedy during her last project, documentarian Abbie Sinclair seeks refuge with three octogenarian siblings, who live in a looming plantation house at the edge of the world.

South Carolina’s Stargazey Point used to be a popular family beach resort, but the beaches have eroded, most of the businesses have closed, and the crowds have gone. It's the perfect place to hide from the rest of world.

But hiding is harder than she thought it would be. There's a wise Gullah woman who seems to see into Abbie's soul, and an intriguing man on a quest to bring Stargazey Point back to life.” – Stargazey Point

My Thoughts
Stargazey Point is a feel good summer read about a woman who rediscovers friendship, love, and herself. Abbie’s journey from tragedy to a sleepy seaside town is not that original. However, the story is written very well and of course, unique to the characters that live in it.

The characters were all well written and interesting pieces of the novel. However, they were a bit predictable. I did appreciate Abbie’s character starting over and gaining a new perspective in life to get it right this time. Although it wasn’t anything too dramatic or unexpected, I liked it.  

The setting is also a beautiful backdrop to the story, which is detailed beautifully and should not be overlooked. The author does a very good job at making you feel like you are there watching everything unfold in the story.

This is a great beach read that can easily be enjoyed in a weekend. If you enjoy good Southern chic-lit, this would be a great book for you to read. I recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Stargazey Point, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan is a thought provoking novel about a man frozen in ice that wakes up a century later. The world has completely changed, but many things have still remained the same. Can society accept him as he is, or just treat him like a science experiment?

Book Description
Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. Remarkably, the frozen man is brought back to the lab and successfully reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was—is—a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906.
Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah’s new life is slipping away...and all too soon, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.” – The Curiosity

My Thoughts
Although there is a love story in this novel, it is also a very satirical look at our times. I really enjoyed reading this story because it is so unique, and incredibly well written. The characters, plot, and overall story is excellent.

This novel is told from the perspective of many different characters. While that does a good job of getting to know the story from different points of view, it didn’t help me to really connect with the characters as much as I would have liked. Sometimes the multiple point of views works, and sometimes it falls flat. This novel’s use of it fell somewhere in the middle for me.

I liked the mesh of real science and science fiction in the novel in regards to the reanimation plot. It makes for a good story, and something similar could very well happen for real in the future. The author’s use of religious protests against it, is also a very real concern with the science behind it as well.

This is a book that I definitely recommend. It is a good read for fans of science fiction, love stories, and anyone who likes to push the boundaries a little bit.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Curiosity, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

August 1, 2013

True Angel Stories by Diana Cooper

True Angel Stories by Diana Cooper is a book filled with 777 uplifting stories about angels, unicorns, orbs, and much more. Read about these angelic experiences in this book, and also learn how to have your own angelic stories to help you along your journey in life.

Book Description
A touching collection, this inspirational book of 777 true angel stories explores how angels can transform lives through exercises and visualizations that readers can practice on their own. Stories discuss guardian angels, feathers, signs, rainbows, prayers, numbers and names, unicorns, orbs, and much more, making this the ultimate angel compendium.” – True Angel Stories

My Thoughts
True Angel Stories is an inspiring book by one of the best authors about the angelic realm, Diana Cooper. Each of the stories included in this book are accounts of people’s experiences with angels around the world. They are short, but uplifting and honest accounts of how the angels influence our lives, even when we don’t expect them to.

If you enjoy reading stories from people about their personal angelic experiences, this would be an excellent book for you to read. I enjoyed reading it and definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of True Angel Stories, Findhorn Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1900s. It is about Irish immigrants, New York City, and the Great Depression.

Book Description
The heartrending and inspiring sequel to Ellis Island, Kate Kerrigan's City of Hope is an uplifting story of a woman truly ahead of her time

When her beloved husband suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York, where she worked in the 1920s. She hopes that the city will distract her from her anguish. But the Great Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable. Gone are the magic and ambiance that once captured Ellie's imagination.

Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours her passion and energy into running a refuge for the homeless. Her calling provides the love, support, and friendship she needs in order to overcome her grief—until, one day, someone Ellie never thought she'd see again steps through her door. It seems that even the vast Atlantic Ocean isn't enough to keep the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.” – City of Hope

My Thoughts
City of Hope is the sequel to Ellis Island. However, I don’t feel that you have to have read the first to enjoy this book. The author does a good job catching up the story for the readers, but as with all books in a series, it never hurts to go back and read the previous ones, too.

I really like how this was a historical novel about Ireland and the United States during a period of time that was in turmoil for many of the characters. The author shows her passion about the Irish immigrants during the 1900s beautifully in this book. It isn’t all cheery, there are many sad parts, but it is very real.

As someone who enjoys history and historical fiction, I enjoyed reading this novel. I appreciate the author’s research and passion for both Ireland and the United States during this time. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of City of Hope, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a debut novel that is funny, but also has a very real look at self-esteem, and how society plays a role in it. This story has humor, romance, and inspires us all to live a little bit more today than we were yesterday.

Book Description
A rollicking, sensuous, feel-good romantic comedy about a grieving young widow who decides to get in shape, and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more!

Holly didn't expect to be a widow at thirty-two. She also didn't expect to be so big. After her husband's death, food was the one thing she could always count on. Now, those extra pounds make flying coach feel like medieval torture—especially when she's squished next to Logan Montgomery. A personal trainer to famous pro athletes, her seatmate is so hot that he makes Holly sweat in all the right (and so embarrassingly wrong!) places.

Though Holly doesn't make the grade on Logan's first-impression meter, he finds himself intrigued by her sharp wit and keen insights—a welcome change from the high-maintenance models he dates—so he impulsively offers to get her back in shape. A little skeptical but ready to make at least one positive change in her life, Holly agrees.

To Logan's (and her own) surprise, Holly turns out to be a natural in the gym, slimming down into a bona fide looker with killer curves—and a new kind of hunger. Before either of them can stop it, the easy intimacy of their training sessions leads to even more steamy workouts away from the gym.

Logan's best friends, professional baseball player Chase Walker and his wife, Amanda, see that this is more than a fling, even if Logan and Holly don't. But can a man whose whole life depends on looks commit himself to a woman who doesn't fit his ideal? Now that Holly's turning other men's heads, does she even need Logan anymore? Are they a couple built to last or destined to fizzle?” – Big Girl Panties

My Thoughts
Big Girl Panties is a funny, feel good kind of novel that is destined (at least in my opinion) to be a best-selling movie one day. It is smartly written with the right amount of humor in it to not be annoying. The sentences aren’t overly descriptive, and it is just a good read all around.

I really enjoyed the character of Holly. She is funny, smart, has some issues, and she puts on her big girl panties and deals with them. Sure, a part of the book is about body image and how she lost weight. However, that is not what made her the woman she becomes in the novel. She regained her self-esteem and became a much healthier and happy version of herself form when you first met her in the story.

I’m very happy with this debut novel by Stephanie Evanovich and can’t wait to see what she writes next! I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Big Girl Panties, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.