Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review - "Dragonfly"

Ed Pilolla has published a book filled with poetry, "Dragonfly: a book of love letters." This book is a mix of various types of love and lovers. It begins with mythology, yet many focus on the everyday love between couples. Some of the works I honestly did not really connect with, however there are several that resonated with me as the words are so real and are a description of everyday life. The readings seem to be so honest as they are what Pilolla is feeling; he has not "fancied" the words. The emotions and images are real and I think this is a new poet to watch for future great works to come from.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Book Review - "The Day Before the Berlin Wall"

I love reading books and learning more about different historical periods and events! Although, this is based upon a legend, "The Day Before the Berlin Wall" is a fascinating read about this time in history, the mid-1970's. A young American receives knowledge that may lead to the Berlin wall not being built. However, he is in East Berlin in at the time and he must return to his unit with the information and he finds himself in race against time with the information and to outrun and outwit those trying to kill him.

I found the glossary included at the beginning of the book to be helpful while reading this book. I am not all that familiar with this part of history and I felt a little confused at times while reading, so the extra information was very beneficial. Once you get into the book, it is difficult to put down and you will find yourself wondering "what if" throughout this as history could have possibly been changed.

The author, T.H.E. Hill, served with the U.S. Army Security Agency and his vast knowledge is evident in this story. I encourage you to check out the website focusing on this book as it is filled with great information and images:

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review - "Love Amid the Ashes"

Revell has a new Biblical fiction author - Mesu Andrews! Andrew's debut novel, "Love Amid the Ashes," is an account of Dinah, the granddaughter of Isaac who's dying command is for her to marry Job's son. Dinah is a woman with a tarnished past and who's name is well-known in the rumor mill. The one person in Dinah's family who made her feel as if she belonged was her grandfather Isaac and suddenly he is gone and Dinah feels lost and alone once more. Job has heard the rumors about Dinah but knows there is more to the story than what he has been told. Dinah is taken by surprise when she realizes what a tender heart Job has and is drawn to him; however she is to become his daughter-in-law, not his wife. This is the beginning of Job and Dinah's story, a heart-wrenching, passionate story that is brought to life in the pages of this book!

This is a story and these are characters that I realized I was not too familiar with before opening this book. I vaguely remember some details of Dinah and Job, but after reading this book I recalled parts of the Biblical account that I had forgotten and I have also learned so much more!

The characters are all so well-developed and the emotions are strongly portrayed throughout the book. Dinah and Nogahla go through so much together and I have to say that they are my favorite characters in this book. They are different people and yet so alike that they form a bond with each other so quickly. I also learned so much more about other Biblical accounts in this book besides the main focus/storyline. For example, the deceit and stolen birthright between Jacob and Esau and their relationship with each other after that.

If you have read and enjoyed Jill Eileen Smith's "The Wives of King David" series, you must read this book! Andrews' style of writing is very similar to Smith's and both of these authors cause the characters to come alive in their books! I highly recommend this novel!

“Available March 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review - "The Chinese Conspiracy"

John Mariotti's latest thriller, "The Chinese Conspiracy," is a piece of fiction, but it could be so true in our current society! How real terrorism and cyber-terrorism is today causes fear to build while reading this book as this story could very well take place.

Jim returns home to his hometown in West Virginia and finds more going on than he bargained for. He finds himself in the midst of a conspiracy involving a Chinese revolutionary group taking over a company and the town through spyware and cyber threats. Jim merely returned to find out why a company is closing and what has happened to the busy, bustling town of Briggs that he remembers so vastly. Jim never imagined he would find out all that he did. Mariotti drives home the point that this could happen anywhere and at anytime. The trouble of dealing with cyber-crimes is that it could be any one person or group and could be based at any one place or several locations throughout the world. Mariotti states, "There is no way to counter-attack if you cannot find who attacked you, or how, or where they are."

This is an eye-opening read for what could very well be taking place someplace now or in the near future. The book is easy to read and follow even if you are not that familiar with the cyber world. Mariotti has created a great thrilling read filled with suspense, romance and sadly some very realistic events for today's society.

* I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review - "A Cowboy's Touch"

I was so excited to receive Denise Hunter's latest book and I was not disappointed at all! "A Cowboy's Touch," A Big Sky Romance, is a beautiful story with a beautiful cover!

Abigail is struggling with health problems and guilt from her childhood. Upon recommendation from her doctor, who is also her sister, Abigail travels to the state of Montana for some rest and relaxation and to also check up on her great-aunt. Soon after arriving Abigail meets a young girl Maddy, and soon after becomes her nanny for the summer. Abigail cannot let her investigative reporter instincts rest as there is mystery surrounding her new employer, single dad Wade, and the death of his wife. After discovering who Wade actually is and learning the status of the magazine her mother owns and the one she works for, Abigail makes a decision that could save the magazine, but it will also interfere with the relationship that is growing between Wade and Abigail.

This is a wonderful romance story that also deals with finding one's way back to God and working through guilt from the past and forgiving one's self. The story moves along at a good pace and my interest was held from start to finish. The descriptions are very vivid and the contrasts between Abigail's two "homes" are great so that you will feel like you travel along with Abigial to Montana and Chicago. I highly recommend this novel!

*I received this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review - "Bathsheba"

I have read and love the first two books in Jill Eileen Smith's The Wives of King David series; however I must say that the third book in this series, "Bathsheba," is my favorite! Smith brings this Bible character to life as well as the other characters involved in her story. This is a great piece of Biblical Fiction!

Bathsheba is a lonely and scared wife of Uriah, a man who obeys King David's every command and is away from home at war much of the time. Bathsheba and Uriah have been married for three years and yet she does not have any child to fill that void in her life that is achingly present when Uriah is away. King David sees Bathsheba on the rooftop one evening and cannot get her out of his mind and Bathsheba feels attraction toward the King as well. King David and Bathsheba spend one night of passion together and it forever changes both of their lives as Uriah is called home and then must be put into danger in order for their sin to be hidden and Bathsheba to be protected. Both David and Bathsheba must seek forgiveness and pay for their moment of passion.

This familiar Biblical account comes to life in this book! The characters' emotions are so real and readers can relate to the characters as they struggle with the very same thing that humans struggle with today. Personal struggles and temptations are still very real and this allows for the reader to really connect and empathize with the various characters. Smith's descriptions paint such vivid pictures pulling the reader in and you will not want to put this book down once you read it cover to cover! I highly recommend this book!

“Available March 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review - "Tales from the Yoga Studio"

"Tales From the Yoga Studio," a novel by Rain Mitchell focuses on the lives of five women and how yoga bonds these women together and helps them through various stages in their lives. Outside of LA, in Silver Lake, Lee runs a yoga class and helps her students improve their bodies and lives overall. However, Lee is being faced with some challenges of her own. Lee's husband Alan has moved out and Lee must make decisions in regards to her yoga studio. However, Lee still is able to make a connection with her students and through yoga and the relationships that are built, these women are able to work through the challenges in their lives.

This book is the perfect blend of issues facing women, "girl talk," yoga talk and techniques and individual growth. Mitchell's style of writing is easy to read and you will be thrust into the lives of these women and empathize with them as they find healing in the art of yoga.

Please continue reading for an excerpt from the novel! Enjoy!

Chapter 1
By Rain Mitchell,
Author of Tales from the Yoga Studio
It's at moments like this -- when she's put the class through their paces and has them settled back onto their mats in a state of collective peace, contentment, and deep relaxation, when their bodies are glistening with a light sheen of sweat, when the afternoon sun is glinting off the end of the Silver Lake Reservoir, which she can see through the wall of windows she and Alan had installed on the southern side of the studio, when all seems temporarily right with the world -- that Lee starts craving a cigarette.

"Inhale through your nose into whatever traces of tension you're still holding on to, and sigh it all out through your mouth," she says. "Let it go."

The craving is just a ghost from the past that visits her from time to time, drops in from the years of misguided study and too much stress at Columbia University Medical Center, when, like a quarter of the students, she would rush out to 165th Street from a lecture on emphysema, abnormal cell growth, or heart disease, light up, and huddle against the buildings in the gray dampness of those New York afternoons.

"One more long, luxurious inhalation, one more compete exhalation."

And that wasn't even the worst of her behavior. Thankfully, those days of rote memorization, trying to prove something to her impossible mother, always feeling as if she'd stepped onto the wrong flight and was hurtling toward an unknown destination, are long past and gone for good. No regrets, no second-guessing.

The fact that on the night Alan moved his stuff into a friend's spare room, unannounced, explaining only that he needed some space to get his "head together," she stopped at the convenience store on her way home from the studio and bought a pack of Marlboro Lights was a blip on the radar screen. She'd rather give herself some slack and say she wasn't in her right mind that night. "Om shanti, Yoga Lady," the Indian store clerk had said ironically, rubbing in the contradiction.

"They're for a friend," she'd lied, which made it even worse somehow.

She smoked only two and was about to throw the pack out before she considered how expensive cigarettes have become in the past ten years (who knew?) and told herself it was a horrible waste of money to dump them. She locked them in the glove compartment. Maybe she'd pass them out to a few homeless people. Except wasn't that like handing out lung disease? Talk about bad karma. So now she didn't know what to do with them except leave them safely out of reach until she figured out the best course of action.

How long has she had the class in savasana?

She watches fifteen rib cages rise and fall in unison in the beautiful golden afternoon light, ignores one awkwardly timed erection courtesy of Brian - - "Boner," as Katherine and a few students refer to him, he of the white spandex yoga pants -- and closes her own eyes. If she thinks herself into it, she can get a contact high from the class. A deep breath in, a long breath out, a reminder that even if life has suddenly gotten way more complicated in the past few weeks, even if for the moment might as well face it-it kind of sucks, it's still better than it was back in those dark New York, failing-med-student days in her twenties-before Alan, before the twins, before Los Angeles. Before yoga.

She opens her eyes and sees that she's run seven minutes over.

Fourth time this week. Or is it the fifth?

She brings the class back, has them sit up cross-legged, and then, with the sudden feeling of warmth and tenderness for all of them that inevitably comes over her at this point in class, she says, "Take this feeling with you, wherever you're headed. This calm is there for you when you need it. If something totally unexpected comes up, don't let it knock the wind out of you. You can't control the other people in your life. But you can control your reactions to them. You can't predict what the hell they're going to do all of a sudden, out of nowhere, with no advance warning, just when you think everything is running so smoothly and perfectly, and then . . . " Uh-oh."Have a really great afternoon, folks. Don't get bent out of shape. Namaste."

The above is an excerpt from the book Tales from the Yoga Studio by Rain Mitchell. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

© 2011 Rain Mitchell, author of Tales from the Yoga Studio

Author Bio
Rain Mitchell, author of Tales From the Yoga Studio, began practicing yoga as a teenager and is currently at work on the second novel in the series. Rain's favorite pose is corpse.

*I was provided with a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review - "Merger"

Sanjay Sanghoee's novel, "Merger" is a vivid picture of Wall Street and the corporate world. Although this book is set in the 1980's, it is very real for today's society as there is a great deal of corruption in the corporate world.

I honestly thought I would feel a little lost and not really understanding what was going on while reading this book; however this was not the case at all! Sanghoee has woven a story that revolves around big corporations, Wall Street, trading, parties in the Hamptons, deceit, greed, betrayal and murder. Power is a quality that is craved by the characters, not only with their work, but in their relationships as well. Sanghoee ties in his personal knowledge and awareness of this scene into the story giving it a very real aspect. The story is very gripping and you will want to keep on reading as twists and turns will having you wondering what is going to happen next! It is scary to think that things just like this are actually happening in today's society.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review - "Pursuit of Happiness"

Sheldon Greene is now on my list of favorite historical fiction authors! "Pursuit of Happiness" is a great novel that is filled with fact and fiction, love, betrayal and details that will keep you turning page after page all the way to the end!

In the midst of the American Revolution, Philadelphia Quaker Joshua is sent to a British Caribbean island as a spy as he is against fighting. Here Joshua falls in love with Amelia, who is the wife of a slave holder. Not only is Amelia already married, but Joshua also has a girlfriend, Peggy, back home; however, Peggy becomes involved with someone else as well, Benedict Arnold. Joshua's relationship with his father is also a piece of the story and this adds additional emotions to the story.

The characters are well-developed and become alive in the story allowing for the reader to experience this time period and gain more knowledge of this important piece of American history.

You will not be disappointed with this work!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Book Review - "Engage, Commit, Grow!"

If you are in a leadership position in a company or looking to start a company, then Larry Smith's book, "Engage, Commit, Grow!: how to create and sustain a culture of high performance," is a must-read for you!
Smith's shares his wisdom from 25 years of experience. On the back cover these statements appear: "Bottom line is: How your employees behave is a critical ingredient. How you lead determines how they behave." These are statements that should guide a person in charge of a company!

This book is organized in a way that is easy to read, follow and use. Beginning with an assessment, it is important that you are being completely honest and not trying to "sugar-coat" anything. Smith shares steps for making changes and implementing them. Sample mission statements are shared, plans are described and shared in detail and other resources and books are listed to offer more assistance with facilitating growth and productivity in the company.

This is a great resource for all those in leadership positions!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review - "Deed So"

Twelve year-old Haddie is the main character in Katharine A. Russell's novel, "Deed So." Haddie is growing up in the turbulent decade of the 1960's - a time that is filled with racial as well as family generational tensions, the country involved with Vietnam and also issues on the home front as well. Haddie cannot wait to get out of her hometown and desires to live in a big city as she believes she will be happier having a future elsewhere. However, Haddie soon questions her desire to leave after she is a witness to a murder and must be called upon as a witness. The townspeople surprise Haddie during this time with how they ban together to be supportive in a trying time for the town.

I found this book to be enjoyable to read! The book is written from Haddie's point of view and the book has a nice flow to it, making it easy to read and follow and hard to put down once it is started! This book is an excellent portrayal of the issues present during this time period and it is a unique approach as it is from a young teenager's perspective. Although Haddie is a fictional character, she could very well be real as the story comes to life on these pages and the reader is transported back in time.

*I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Book Review - "It's Not Your Fault"

"It's Not Your Fault: weight gain, obesity and food addition" is a well-researched and well-written book by Emanuel Barling, Jr., Esq. and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N. Obesity has become an issue in America affecting people of all ages. The authors' aim is to help the reader lose weight and improve their overall health at the same time.
The authors' position is that the chemical in the foods that are consumed on a daily basis are filled with chemicals that cause us to gain weight and become classified as being obese. Certain chemicals contained in food are discussed as they impact one's boy, not only with causing a gain in weight, but overall with how the boy functions as well.
Also, included in this book are several useful charts such as "A partial list of the hidden sources of MSG." Also, there are 12 steps that are shared for a diet plan.
I find this book to be filled with a great amount of information that is helpful and it will really make you think about what foods you are purchasing and eating, ultimately putting this food inside of your body.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Book Review - " Beneath the Night Tree"

Julia's story continues in the third book. "Beneath the Night Tree," in Nicole Baart's Threads of Change series.
The life that Julia has made for herself is rocked upside down when she receives an e-mail from her son's father asking, "Do I have a son?" Julia lives with her grandmother, son and younger brother and is content with her life. Julia is also working on a college degree and is soon to be engaged to her boyfriend of five years, her boyfriend who is the man of her dreams. He is the man of her dreams, but is Julia really willing to make him a permanent part of her life and world and how does he change the family unit that is close-knit and means so much to her? The sudden contact from her son's father shakes her world as it will impact completely where her life will go from here and how it will forever be changed.
This book is well-written and is easy to follow. The conversations are realistic and the descriptions are very vivid that the reader is transported to Julia's world. The reader will experience Julia's emotions as she deals with various obstacles and joys in her life.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.