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Just an avid reader who loves books!

Currently reading

Facts About Champagne And Other Sparkling Wine (Illustrated Edition)
Henry Vizetelly
The Weight of Shadows (Shadow Series) (Volume 1)
Karl Holton
The Sherlock Holmes Collection
Arthur Conan Doyle
Overcoming Daily
Dan Chesney
Progress: 12/192 pages
The Holy Bible : Scofield Reference Bible
Cyrus I Scofield
Progress: 456/1382 pages

Ok thriller/mystery

— feeling doubt
Briguella - Vicki Fitzgerald
(show spoiler)
** spoiler alert ** Briguella (Brighella) is a character out of Italian classical drama and the serial killer in this mystery wears the mask representing this character who was known to be cunning and deceitful. Random girls are being attacked and Kate, a newspaper investigative reporter, has been covering the story. After her sister is attacked as a warning to her, she feels compelled to help Det. Beckley by being bait to try to catch the elusive killer and put an end to the maniac's rampage. The tables are turned on her when she is abducted right out of her bed while the police are supposed to be protecting her, and taken to a secluded location, restrained and abused. The suspense in the book was good, but I was disappointed in the ending. For me it had a good pace, then at the end fell flat. The premise was good-- the good, loving and caring husband of the reporter is behind all of it in revenge of his twin brother's death, but usually there seems to be little "off" things periodically, that during the course of the story one might not put much into, then when it all wraps up and the reader looks back, they can say "Ah ha! I see it now!" But there was none of that... I progressed through the story expecting that sort of thing with one of the characters, and when it turned out to be the husband, which was so out of character for him I couldn't believe it, I was let down. I was disappointed that the story had been going so well, and then let down. 
I received this book in exchange for a free review. Thank you. 

Humorous and insightful

Everything is Normal: The Life and Times of a Soviet Kid - Sergey Grechishkin

Wow that was a good book! Everything is normal is about a boy growing up in Soviet Russia in the '70's and 80's from his own perspective. This memoir recounts the reality of life for a Soviet citizen during that time, which at times, contrasts or confirms what the western nations of heard, and how all of its hardships was considered a normal way of life for him. Any slight glimpse of life outside the iron curtain nourished a desire to escape from life as he knew it. The author has a sense of humor too, beginning each chapter with a little joke that was common in Russia at the time which gives a bit of funny take on a topic that the general public would have understood. I felt sad too for the author as a child that so many things that we take for granted, like bubblegum or deodorant, were foreign to him and also what things he considered normal, like cockroaches in meatballs or having to constantly hide one's feelings or opinions for fear of being hauled away. No human should have to live like that, and what a tragedy that people do. It was very poignant for me, as the author seems to be roughly my age, so that while I was growing up here, enjoying all that I did, he was growing up without all of what I enjoyed and to a large extent, couldn't have imagined my much nicer life. The contrast of comparing what he and I were experiencing was sharp indeed.
It really also shows in a real way why socialism/communism will never work apart from all the Utopian ideals one hears about that philosophy, which never seems to take into account real humans and their behavior.
I would recommend this book to everyone that enjoys memoirs, history or learning about life in other countries. I received this book from the author in exchange for a free honest review. Thank you!

Cute Childrens' Book

The Gesture Grin - D. B. Lewis, Anthony Jones

Cute book for children about Grin who is a magical creature called a Gesture and is the originator of thoughts. It is the tale of the Yawls who are cave people afraid of the dark, stumble around, and bang their heads. Tall Yawl believes there must be a solution to this problem, but what could it be? He ponders, and wonders, and then one night lightening flashes and strikes a tree, setting it on fire. He puts a stick to the fire and, Viola! a torch and no more darkness in their caves.
My granddaughter and I enjoyed this story and found many of the illustrations humorous. The entire story is told in rhyme and we thought it was reminiscent of Dr. Suess, and then on the back, there it was: "Inspired by Dr. Suess".
Here is the blurb from the back:
"Join Yawl Tall as he seeks a way,
To end the darkness that comes each day.
Just when it seems no answer is near,
Tall uses his thinker and Grin Appears.
Grin is a Gesture, a creature of thought,
Rewarding with an answer when all seems naught.
Be it Snap, Nod, Grin, or Wink,
A Gesture appears every time you think.
Will Yawl Tall find the answer he desperately seeks:
Turn the page and take a peek."

My thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

For Those in Need of Hope and Encouragement

— feeling smile
Grace Revealed - Fred Sievert

Grace Revealed is an inspirational book especially for those in need of encouragement when going through times of crisis such as death of a loved one, addiction, family problems, or career problems to name a few. It is divided into chapters for each topic, has personal stories of others who had dealt with that same situation and how they got through it. Each chapter offers some scriptures pertaining to the topic which could be of some comfort, and many chapters end with a prayer pertaining to the topic. 
I think it would be a wonderful resource for a person dealing with one of those issues, as often when we are going through something, we feel so alone and isolated, and reading the accounts of others can help to bring some much needed soothing relief and encouragement. I enjoyed reading the book, and found inspiration in reading how others hit a rough patch, and felt so bleak, but made it through and now find fulfillment in helping others. 
I received this book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review-- thank you!

Great story about a true, unsung hero

— feeling amazing
The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden of Deerfield - John McPhee
What a great story of the most unlikely leader! Frank Boyden became headmaster at Deerfield Academy in 1902, fresh out of Amherst at 22 yrs. old and the town of Deerfield thought he wouldn't last a day. Of the 14 boys enrolled as students at Deerfield Academy, a school on its last legs and which the board of directors was seriously closing, several the town were very afraid of, and Mr. Boyden was a slight man, standing at 5' 4" and they thought he didn't stand a chance. He might not have been large in stature, but he was in character and heart. His dedication to the school and his students elevated the school from oblivion to being internationally known for turning out exemplary young men. His devotion to all thing regarding his school was well known, and there was nothing he wouldn't do for it-- in the early years, when the sports teams were short of players, he played with them. In an effort to get boys from the community to go to school, many of them from farms that could little afford to have the boys gone-- he would pay for farm labor out of his pocket so the boy could get educated. A large proportion of the enrollment was on scholarship because he could not bear the thought of turning one away, and the scholarship recipients never were allowed to know that they were on scholarship because he did not want those students to feel there was any difference between them and the regular boys. The scholarship students did not have extra duties either, as is common in many educational institutions, for the same reason. In his 62 years as headmaster, he only had to expel 6 boys as he was famous for "extra chances" and determined that the offender would amount to something, and the boys for all those decades, in spite of his willingness to give extra chances, never saw him as a pushover. He commanded respect, and many of his students went on to greatness, and remembered with fondness their headmaster who took a deep interest in each of their educations. He wanted to be constantly aware of what was going on with the students and in the school that he didn't even have a separate office-- his desk was set in the middle of the entrance to the school so he could talk to boys in passing to their classes. It was a family affair as well-- his wife was the chemistry teacher and renowned in her own right for her brilliance in teaching the subject. The couple were so committed to the school, that every evening, their living room was packed, many times with over 50 present, with faculty for after dinner coffee and talk, or other times with the students themselves after a game. As well as running the school, he often taught some of the subjects and for 60 years coached the baseball, basketball and football teams himself, even at 87 when he was still headmaster. The man was amazing and an inspiration as too what vision, passion, and concern of one person can accomplish if the desire and persistence are there.

Good Introductory Book Comparing Secular Humanism vs. Christianity

— feeling shocked
Kingdoms at War - Ron Jenson, Bill Bright

I really liked this book and feel it is a must read for anyone of the Christian faith. It has an extensive bibliography for further study and several appendixes and footnotes section. Kingdoms At War is a wonderful introduction and food for thought comparing secular humanism with Christianity. Even though written in 1985, it is still very relevant for today as the differing world views are even more evident in daily life and in the media, education, business and politics. Each chapter ends with study questions for the reader-- not so much question/ answer stuff, but more for reflection on what the reader personally thinks. Each chapter also summarizes with a table comparing secular humanism viewpoints with Christianity. This book has definitely sparked my interest in the subject and wish to seek out more of the books mentioned for further reading.


— feeling confused
She was Born a Good Girl: An all girls boarding school story - Garfield Whyte

This is the tale of a group of girls at an exclusive boarding school in Jamaica. Families who send their daughters to Rosemount expect their daughters to become ladies and it comes at a hefty price. The group of girls seem to have different goals than what is expected of them, to trap a man, the richer the better using any means necessary. The exception is Nola who has goals, wants and education and to make her family proud. 
I am not sure how I feel about this book as the majority of the girls were far outside my realm of experience, even when I was a teen. With the exception of Nola, the rest are nasy, slutty, foul- mouthed, scheming, without morals and just plain disgusting. They don't care if they destroy marriages and break up homes as long as they get a man they deem worthy... but in the end there is a moral... 2 of the nastiest, who were the group's role models, end up pregnant, the men they had connived for had only used them, and learn the hard way that their goals weren't quite so lofty. I think the moral gives it some redeeming quality, but these girls were just so bad-- I did not like them at all-- so that it sort of taints my view of the book. I would give the book a 3.5 if we could do halfsies. 
I received this book for an honest review from the author.... thank you.

3 Giveaways!

Read interview with author Edward Hackemer and enter to win a signed copy of "Sangria Sunsets"-- giveaway ends 2/28/2018! Enter to win a signed ARC of "Something of Substance" by Tia Souders-- giveaway ends 2/27/2018! Enter to win a copy of "Something Just Like This" by Tracy Krimmer-- giveaway ends 2/27/2018! Good luck and happy reading!


Speculative Dystopian Fiction

— feeling bloody
Fall of the Cities: Planting the Orchard - Vance Huxley

** spoiler alert ** Good speculative dystopian fiction contemplating the of sudden loss of oil and its impact on the world.
At first, reading it, I thought it was back in the first Gulf War when the guys were in Iraq/Kuwait and the oil wells had been set on fire, and burned forever, but as I read further into the story, I realized that no, this is in the future and terrorists have attacked wells the world over. The result is that society as we know it basically comes to a halt and as expected, the majority of people panic and go crazy. The ones with more evil in their hearts use the unrest and chaos as an excuse to loot, rape, kill and destroy with no one really maintaining order. The are a minority of sane people left (or that is the way it seems) who choose still to act like civilized humans and only kill if need be in self defense, and not because they enjoy it. Harry Miller, ex- soldier, becomes their leader, though not by his choice. Everyone in their group looks up to him, though, for strength, courage and wisdom, to decide what should courses of action should be, responses to threats, and eventually how to react to the deaths of those they have grown fond of. With a lesser leader and one given easily to anger, the group could have easily spiraled out of control, wanting revenge on others but Harry keeps a steady course, though at times it got difficult. It would be difficult to live in the circumstances the group had to-- shortages in basics, constant onslaught of violence and continually living in that "flight or fight" mode, and not having any hope anything will change anytime soon. It was good to see them in the end get some relief, but I don't think the end was a happy one. The government ended up monitoring everyone in a way that even a tally of how many cans of beans, rolls of toilet paper, bars of soap, etc. you used in a given month, because money was useless and everyone got vouchers for basics, like rations. So they basically had to trade peace for security. In my mind, with all that invasion of privacy, that was the lesser of two evils. It didn't make me like the book less, I just felt sad for the characters of the story. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author... thank you!
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Weird, very weird

Disasters in the First World: Stories - June Elizabeth Tilton,  Clare Marie Tully,  Mary Alice Waldron,  Elvi Bertha Wasenius,  Abigail Harriet McSweeney,  Doris Esther Sheehan,  Anna Winifred Simon,  Olivia Mae Stead,  Pauline Margolis,  Elizabeth Bushen May Margaret Elizabeth McNamara

That was the oddest bunch of stories I have ever read. I was always trying to search for meaning or symbolism, figuring there had to be some there, but couldn't come up with much. I was always thinking that the author is trying to say something, but what it is (to me) is a mystery. There was never any closure either-- it was like I was left hanging every time. There were strange conversations as well-- I kept wondering if perhaps the book was written while the author was under the influence of hallucinogens part of the time... like I would think "ok-- maybe this will make sense-- we are starting to get somewhere" then-- nope, cause a crazy conversation started, and whatever progress I thought had been made was gone. Maybe I would have understood it if I had been under some influence...LOL

Humorous look at bad education

— feeling sad
Reality Lies Beyond the Fog - Kevin Terence Ratigan

I liked this book-- it was different, but good. I was surprised to see that Mr. Ratigan had received a few low ratings, and when I read their reviews, it seems that they didn't seem to "get" the book at all. One common complaint was that it was "unrealistic" or about the "dialogue".... It was apparent to me that Mr. Ratigan had written the book this way on purpose as it was supposed to be a satirical parody to make a point. Reading his bio, he has had 12 years in the field of education, and it was obvious that he was drawing on his experiences in the school system as material for his fictional book and the sad state of affairs our school system in this country has fallen into. It details corruption, indifference on the part of teachers/administration for the education of its students, the lack of qualified teachers, poor environmental working conditions, parental indifference for their children's education, lack of courtesy and respect, and the list of sins goes on in a much exaggerated way. If the true educational conditions in the public arena was just a small fraction of what Mr. Ratigan described,if the truth can be seen in the shadow of the author's exaggeration, our nation and our children are in serious trouble. So as far as complaints of unrealistic and dialogue I feel doesn't apply, because one doesn't really expect either from satire or parody... it is using humor to make some pointed and painful statements. In my opinion, well done author!

Good Fantasy/Adventure For children

Destiny's Gambit (The Voyages of Jake Flynn Book 1) - R.J. Wood

Even though this book is geared toward the middle school age set, I enjoyed it a lot myself. It reminded me a bit of "The Chronicles of Narnia", but in outer space and with pirates. It was a mix of fantasy with steampunk, and I look forward to getting more into the series to see where it goes. I felt it had a good pace, plot with just the right amount of action and would capture the imaginations of children. I liked Jake, and the cast of characters as well as the many adventures they found themselves in on Jake's journey to try to find his parents and his destiny. Read for twogalsandabook.com

Modern Romance with Humor

— feeling doubt
The Wedding Date - Jasmine Guillory

Even though I have seen many other people loving this book, I really didn't like it a whole lot. I thought it was kinda "eh". It was sweet, romantic, had moments of humor, but for me, it was a bit much with the sex. From the 2nd day Alexa and Drew knew each other after getting stuck on an elevator together, and her agreeing to be his fictional "girlfriend" and one of his ex's wedding, they were in bed, and it seemed that basically that was what the whole relationship was based on. On alternating weekends. her flying down to spend her time off with him, and him flying up to be with her-- most of every bit of time together was spent shagging, with other bits of non- sex activities thrown in. I think if it would have had less of the former and more of the latter, I would have enjoyed it more. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you.

Intense thriller

— feeling amazing
The Sandman - Lars Kepler

Wow! Now that book was intense! I literally could not put it down (I read all 496 pages in two days)... this one would make a great movie. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next, how were all the disappearances connected, how were people seeing this maniac out and about while he was locked up in the most secure facility in Sweden, were the authorities going to find the victims, where had the boy been kept all these years, was his sister still alive as well? Lots of mysteries in the story and lots of twisty turns and unexpected developments. If you are wanting a thriller/ suspense/ mystery I would highly recommend this one! I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review-- thank you! 

A Moving Tale

Love, Secrets, and Absolution: An emotional and gripping psychological, family drama - K.L Loveley

Love, Secrets, and Absolution was such a moving and poignant book. It is the tale of a family torn apart because of the son Alfie's autism, his mother Grace's devotion and defense of him while everyone else (including his father) says Alfie is just not "quite right". Told from alternating viewpoints, starting with Alfie as an infant, and progressing with him up through college, it is a unique look at what autistic kids and families with a member afflicted go through. It starts at a time when not as much was known about autism, so Alfie does not get diagnosed until he is in college. So for most of his journey through childhood into adult, no one really understood what he was going through or why he did the things he did. I was emotionally effected by this book and would recommend it to anyone. I received this book from the author to be read as part of Goodreads group 
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/....... thank you!

Inspiring and Encouraging Book

— feeling kissed
The Mountain - Charles G Thompson

  " If you are looking for a book on mountaineering, this is not your read. In, The Mountain, I will be sharing experiences about the mountains or challenges we all face daily. I chose the cover photo because it is a favorite of mine and Jeanne’s. It was taken by an old inexpensive digital pocket camera balanced on a rock, using the camera’s timer. We had just come from a shelter above Zermatt, Switzerland and crested a hill when this scene came into view. The date was September 10, 2001. We had no communication with the outside world. There were no phones, no computers, no mail service, until we were in Vernaza, Italy the next afternoon. Where were you on 9/11? "


Such an inspirational read! Written by a man, suffering from an inoperable stage 4 terminal brain tumor, Mr. Thompson kept trying to help and encourage others until he died this past July. The Mountain is a book of encouragement, profound thoughts and gentle nudges to urge others to reach out, to make a difference and do what they can no matter where they are at in life. He consistently visited the elderly in nursing homes, just to hug them and give them a bit of companionship and the feeling they weren't alone. He regularly visited men in prison to give them hope and show some kindness. What a different world we would inhabit if everyone had his attitude to make their part of the world the best it can be! Truly Mr. Thompson was an amazing role model!
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