Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ebook review: Flawed

You will be punished…

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

My Review:

Any fan of Orwell or Hemingway will tell you that the best dystopian is the one that scares the pants off of you. Not really just with paragraphs of violence--police or other wise--but with how close to the truth and the current times the author gets. The best dystopian is the one that makes you want to hide under covers and watch Disney movies when you think "well, about how many years are we from doing this as a society?"

At least that's my view. If you agree, this is the book for you. Yes, it has the strong female character and intriguing love interest that takes up some but not all of said heroine's time. Yes, it has action and family drama and a younger sibling relationship. It has all the mixings of your Standard Great Novel.

But what sets it apart is the answer to that one question: Given the right circumstances, how far is our current civilization from turning into this? I'd wager a couple decades. And that scares the bejeebus out of me.

Scared or not, I'll be looking out for the next one. Thank you NetGalley for putting this on my radar.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Thoughts: Reading Habits Book tag

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
In the bathroom. I actually rarely read at home, preferring the 10 minute intervals thorughout my day to read.
Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Both. Sometimes a highlighter. Whatever is within reach.
Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a certain chapter/a certain number of pages?
Depends how interesting the book is.
Do you eat or drink while reading?
All the time.
Multitasking: music or TV while reading?
No. Or if I do have music, instrumentals. music with words is too distracting.
One book at a time or several at once?
Depends on the type and what my workload looks like. Sometimes I'll do ebooks on breaks and physical books while taking calls at work, but if work needs my full attention I just keep with the ebook.
Reading out loud or silently in your head?
Silently. Ever since I learned how to do it.
Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
How pretty is the cover? 
Do you write in your books?
Only my favorite ones. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

ebook review: Everything you need to know about American History

An exciting book for all middle schoolers (6th-8th grade) who wish they had taken better notes in American history class or just want to jump to the head of the class. Each Big Fat Notebook is like getting to borrow the notebook of the best student in American history class, the one who not only writes down the important points the teacher makes—noting those crucial  “you will get tested on these” facts—but also meticulously transcribes key points from the chalkboard and pastes teacher handouts into her notebook. Part “CliffsNotes,” part workbook, this study hack will help kids focus on the things they need to remember in order to rock their middle school exams and ace american history.
Each notebook was written by a graduate of a prestigious university, and all the writers graduated with honors in their respective subjects. Everything You Need to Ace American History in One Big Fat Notebook is based on state standards and has been vetted by a middle school American history teacher who has won a teacher-of-the-year award.

My Review:

Oh my god, I love this book. First of all, it's Emily Lestrange styled pages with an educational twist. If you are in school or know someone who is, definitely get this book. I have a sister who's really good at school and probably doesn't need this book, but I'm gonna get it for her anyway. The only thing that I didn't like about this book is that it wasn't the physical copy. You better believe I'm getting one for my own shelves too.

I LOVE that there are Check your Knowledge pages at the end of chapters, so I'll definitely be keeping this around for when my daughter gets to school age. The maps are uncomplicated and color coded, the font is easy to read and key words are bolded and highlighted, and the overall spacing of everything takes advantage of the space the pages have without seeming too cluttered or overwhelming. 

As I was looking through this, I found several things I either never learned or never paid attention to in class. So let's keep a tally of the copies I'm getting: Sister, daughter, know what? I'll get another copy for my older sister and if she likes it she can get another copy for HER kids. so four. And honestly, the price that this is going for is SO worth it. Friends who frequent Barnes and Noble know this price is practically a steal.

Do you think the author was good at English and Math too?

I got an ecopy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Now go buy this book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ebook review: Hollow House

No one in Willow Street pays it any notice, not the disgruntled Campbell family next door, not Alice Cowley and her suicidal daughter, or Mr. and Mrs. Markham down the road. Not even Darryl, the loner at number seventy, who is abnormal himself, thinks much about it. It is just the old Kemper House, forgotten and abandoned.

Until it makes itself known.

When the stench of death wafts from Kemper House through Willow Street, and comes to the attention of recent resident and newspaper reporter, Ben Traynor, it starts a chain of horrors that brings Kemper House's curse into their own homes and leads others direct to its door. Kemper House not only haunts its neighbours, it infects them with an evil that traverses time and reality itself.

My Review:

I feel like this book started out well enough. It was rocky, but interesting enough to keep you reading. The introduction of each character kept me curious enough to keep turning the pages. I do feel like some characters were better developed than others, and that may just be a result of having too many characters involved. The main story itself was an interesting concept and if the Evil Thing in this book had been anything like the Evil Thing in My Best Friend's Exorcism or the Evil Thing in Daughters Unto Devils I might have been more interested. As it was, I feel like there wasn't any real moral or psychological dillema--it turned into your average everyday Ghost/demon/boy/house/whatever killing people in graphic and sometimes disturbing ways.
I guess if you're into Man Vs God, you'll like this book. I prefer Man Vs Man or Man vs. self (although in this case I guess man vs. real demons instead of inner ones)  myself, and would have liked to see the same story, but with a different style of evil. 


Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Indian Family Kitchen

A fresh and friendly introduction to South Asian cuisine, The Indian Family Kitchen reflects how we cook today with seasonal and vegetable-forward recipes. This striking cookbook shows how to coax flavor out of your favorite foods by adding Indian spices: rub butternut squash with garam masala before roasting with salty feta and sun-dried tomatoes; marinate chicken wings in a punchy tandoori sauce; and brighten up a quinoa salad with ginger and cumin. 

You'll also find classics refined over the years by the granddaughter of the family that brought Patak's sauces and chutneys to households around the world. Throughout, The Indian Family Kitchen demystifies traditional cooking methods with kitchen shortcuts and the spices you should always have on hand—for delicious family meals that'll be loved by generation upon generation.

My Review:

My experience with Indian cooking is primarily made up of Curry nights every Sunday with my dad, and the occasional outing to a local Indian restaurant. When I moved out and made a home with my husband, I started branching out--making Chicken Korma, coming to terms with the fact that Tikka Masala wasn't even made by Indians, and a great number of experiments with spices and ramen.
What I love about this book in particular is the way Pathak introduces Indian Cooking as a process, not a formula. She leaves helpful stamps on each recipe that advise whether you should substitute or leave out an ingredient you don't have.
She starts the book with the important points: cooking is about intuition and improvising. The secret to good cooking is a good pantry (which was proved by my ramen-noodle experiments)
For anyone wanting to explore Indian cooking but not sure about the complexity, this is a great book to have. It's a great addition, even, for people who want to cook Indian but live in an area where 'Asian' means 'Japanese' and have to scour every corner of their city for ingredients sometimes. *ahem* But, anyway....
Buy this book and try something out. If you're cooking according to what you have, there's a helpful index in the back that you can use to locate pages of recipes for lamb, pork, chicken, etc. My advice: if you have someone sharing dinner with you, don't cook alone. Indian cooking is best done as a family affair.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

365 devotions to peace

The Christian life isn’t exempt from times of difficulty, strain, and worry. But God didn’t intend for you to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. He offers an amazing gift to those who fix their eyes on Him: peace.

This 365-day devotional will help you release your worries to God and discover the peace that only He can give. Each devotion offers an encouraging Bible verse and closes with a prayer to help you find peace in the midst of any circumstance.

Spending each day with the Author of peace will bring a restful and refreshing year.

My Review:

From the first time I opened the book, this book has helped me. I don't read it every day, but it has the prettiest cover (the thumbnail really doesn't do it justice) and I like to pull it form the shelf whenever I feel stressed and only have a few minutes to find peace (mothers of toddlers know what I'm talking about. Using a devotional coloring book isn't always practical).

I definitely recommend buying this book and keeping it in your purse or bag, so you can pull it out at work or at home whenever you need it. Don't feel pressure to open it up every single day, but keep it in mind when you need a gentle push in the peaceful direction.

rating: 5/5

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book review: Sarai (Wives of the Patriarchs #1)

Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai's hand, she asks one thing--that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if Sarai makes a promise in return--to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees. 
But as the years stretch on and Sarai's womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain--lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram's patience last? 
Jill Eileen Smith thrilled readers with The Wives of King David series. Now she brings to life the strong and celebrated wives of the patriarchs, beginning with the beautiful and inscrutable Sarai.

I've seen a couple reviews that complain about the plot, but as a maybe not-so-devoted wife to a very-devoted husband, I related to this book So. Much.
Now, I hadn't actually read the bible passages pertaining to this story since I was maybe 8 years old. But I remembered enough of the story and had helpful bible passages at the beginning of each chapter to guide me.
If you don't relate to the story itself as much as I did, you can still enjoy this book for its characters. Hagar is willful and interesting. The portrayal of emotions and interest in the writing are enough to make me really want to read the rest of the series. 
Because of the accuracy to scripture and justice done to the Heart of the Message, I very much recommend this book to those who want to get more into the bible, but get caught up in the thous and thees and what ifs. Smith does a great job in both entertaining those who know the Book well and those who have honestly never read the Bible and know all that they know from Veggie Tales.