Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That's the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits--until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers--about her daughter's fears, her own marriage, and herself--forces Katie to consider whether there's any price she isn't willing to pay to achieve Devon's dream.

ARC received for review

When I first saw this I just thought “Huh, a book about dance moms but it’s gymnastics moms instead” and frankly didn’t have high hopes for it. I was pleasantly surprised when I was mistaken.

The book’s characters are completely and utterly batshit crazy. They make the overbearing moms on Dance Moms look downright sane and reasonable. I know some parents are really on their children to succeed and everything but this takes it to a whole new level.

I wanted to feel bad for Devon since she has such insane parents who put her under so much pressure but I really couldn’t muster even a twinge of sympathy. Devon was, frankly, an absolute bitch. She was the girl that everyone hated in high school because she was the size zero, brown nosing, backstabbing, two faced uber bitch who was nice to the teachers but made snide comments the moment they were out of earshot. I frankly wanted bad things to happen to her since she was such a miserable human being. I think it was a totally justifiable case of schadenfreude.

The mystery itself was interesting but not as compelling as the descriptions of just how out of control Devon and her parents were. The writing was obviously excellent since it drew me in so much that I genuinely disliked Devon so much.

Overall, while the characters are slimeballs of the worst possible order it’s truly fascinating to read their story. It’s like watching a car wreck - you just cannot look away. This is not a warm, fuzzy, happy beach read, but if you’re looking for an excellent, dark read where you genuinely enjoy disliking the characters then this is for you and I highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Color Your Chakras by Susan Shumsky, DD

Color Your Chakras is a fun activity book for adults and children alike.

The chakras are powerful energy centers located in your subtle body. Unknown to many people, these vortexes of life energy govern and regulate your physical body. According to the ancient Tantric and Vedic scriptures of India, there are 14 chakras―seven major ones along your spinal column, and seven others, most of which are located in your brain. Each chakra performs a specific function and is associated with discrete body parts and aspects of mind.

Each chakra (or “wheel”) has a hub, where subtle energy conduits intersect; and spokes, which are radiations of subtle energy. Chakras are often likened to lotuses, and the radiations of energy are equated with lotus petals. The lotus petals on six of the seven major chakras comprise the entire Sanskrit alphabet, and the seventh major chakra vibrates all 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.

Each left-hand page in Color Your Chakras includes a description and explanation of each chakra or chakra deity. Each right-hand page is an appropriate drawing. The explanations include information about the drawings and the specific colors that are mentioned in the scriptures of ancient India.

Received for review

I’m not a huge fan of the new coloring trend, not because I don’t enjoy the process but that the designs most books used are just so incredibly complicated. Sadly, this book is among those. Each image has so many tiny, tiny areas to color that it is becomes more tedious and frustrating than relaxing. That said, there are some images that are a bit easier to fill in, though those are mostly on the left hand, descriptive pages.

What saves this from being a complete frustrating bust are those descriptions of each chakra. The author packs a great deal of interesting information into a relatively small space and gives meaning to the images you are (supposed to be) coloring.

Overall, if you enjoy coloring incredibly complicated images with a very, very sharp colored pencil then this is for you and even if you are not a huge fan of coloring it may be worth a look just to read up on the information provided on the chakras. I cautiously recommend this to those who enjoy the subject.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Featured Book: Omnipiece by Betty L. Sheldon

What if your greatest creation became your most bitter enemy?

When the Omnis set out to create a race of intelligent life-forms (ILFs), they were faced with a terrible choice of giving the gift of freewill or creating a world of robotic-like beings. The danger was that with freewill, the ILFs could fall prey to the deadly CXV virus. This highly invasive virus would take away the ILFs mental clarity and their ability to contact the exalted Ones who had given them life.

The Omnis made their decision, and as time passed, the virus began to attack Heosphoros.

Expecting a reaction from the Omnis and getting none, Heosphoros became more outspoken. Their silence convinced him that he had a cause. "I refuse to put up with being ignored by the Omnis!" he muttered to himself. "I can't tolerate being in their presence any longer. I'm staying away from them from now on...."

After leaving the Omnis, he told the Emmsis, "Since we belong to an order of ILFs who are much superior in our capabilities, we do not need these restraints. Our mental faculties far exceed theirs. Our thoughts follow the Omnis' thoughts. It is impossible for us to spoil the cosmos by being disorderly. We really need not be concerned with CXV!"

About the author:

Betty L. Sheldon is a retired elementary teacher, having taught in public and parochial schools, including an open classroom and a one-room school.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Find Your Balance Point by Brian Tracy and Christina Stein

Accomplish what matters most

Because we all have too much to do, it feels like our lives are out of balance.

But Brian Tracy and Christina Stein argue that imbalance results not so much from doing too much but from doing too much of the wrong things.

They provide a process that enables you to sort out what is most important to you from among the many activities you could focus on.

When you can efficiently identify and accomplish what really matters to you, you've found your balance point.

Received for review

Having read Kiss That Frog! I was excited to receive this latest volume by the authors. It’s a slim volume that is quickly finished but that doesn’t take away from its message.

The idea the book promotes is that you need to know what your values are before you can even begin to flesh out what you want to do with your life. If you don’t know why you are doing something it’s just not worth it. This discussion of figuring out just what matters most to you in your life is certainly not new but it’s presented in such a way to make it easy for the reader to look into their own motivations through quizzes and other techniques.

The text is well written with a nice, quick pace that makes reading it a breeze. The authors use a very friendly, casual tone which makes the experience feel less clinical.

Overall, while the ideas and exercises are nothing groundbreaking this is a solid read either as a refresher on the materials which one can use to clarify their own values and goals or as a great introduction to the subject. Either way, this is a fast, beneficial read which should be appreciated by those who focus on self-improvement.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Monday, July 25, 2016

Review: The RN Diaries by Dolyn Keys

Vanity, Nadia, and Kensington—three nurses who have a penchant for high fashion, late nights, and using their feminine power over men—all work the night shift at Ellerton Memorial Hospital. But when they aren't saving lives, they're out on the town exploring their wild sides.

After numerous random hookups, the three women realize they want more excitement and arousal. When Vanity is fed up with being a nurse, she seeks other career options—hosting adult parties, and Nadia and Kensington are invited. The nights are filled with intrigue, secrets, passion . . . and then some. Nadia's sexual appetite is satiated, but her relationship is threatened by the shadows of her past. Kensington struggles to balance her work and personal life, while trying to figure out whether she wants to be the teaser or the teased. Searching for a quick sexcapade has now become a bit more complicated, as Vanity, Nadia, and Kensington begin to question their views of life, men, and what they want out of a relationship.

Received for review

Let me start by saying this is just straight up porn. There is some plot, but it is really just filler between the sex scenes. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy porn sometimes, but this was just a mess.

The writing was okay, but there was virtually no editing done on this and absolutely no proofreading since it was littered with typos and formatting errors. All these numerous mistakes sucked away any potential enjoyment the reader might have experienced while reading. I have frankly read fanfiction that was better written and certainly better edited.

The “story” (a.k.a. the bits between the sex scenes) was okay but nothing spectacular. The characters were self absorbed, miserable human beings (think the characters on Mistresses) who I actually wanted bad things to happen to. The sex scenes were the best written parts but since I didn’t actually care about the characters they left me yawning and speed reading through them.

Overall, between the physical mess of the book itself and the lackluster story (which ends with an unfortunate cliffhanger that sets up a sequel!?!) I really cannot recommend this. There are so many other, better stories out there that I really cannot fathom wasting time reading this. Just walk on by.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Featured Book: Jellyfish Blues by William Burnette

Everyone wants to save the world. But what if it was really up to you? It is up to Bill Phillips, and he does not want the responsibility.

Reluctantly, he is thrown into an adventure from which he cannot escape. Along the way, he loses his girl, then his home, and then his job. He ends up on the run from the government and in the crosshairs of an assassin. All because of a mysterious box he discovers in his old house.

Luckily for him, he teams up with Jack Cavendish. 'Dish' is an ex-field operative who is tasked with bringing in Bill and his box. Instead of forcing Bill to give up his prize, they work together to unravel its secrets. They discover that somehow Bill has the power to change his appearance and to fight off attackers with shocking results. The pair is befriended by a mysterious attorney who knows about the box and its contents, but is hesitant to share the details.

Why is he so secretive? Is the situation as dire as the he wants them to believe? Can he be trusted?

About the author:

William Burnette was born and raised in the Northern Virginia area. He is a former IT professional where he was a Programmer, Analyst, and Product Manager. He now works on his writing as well as small mobile apps when he is not spending time with his family.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Featured Book: Swift and Brave by Elizabeth S. Eiler, Ph.D.

Animals abound with higher knowledge and purpose.This groundbreaking work explores: 
  • Life purposes, co-creative abilities, and soul missions of animals
  • Opportunities for spiritual healing and personal growth
  • Living in right relationship with other species
  • Character, afterlife, and connectivity of animal souls
  • Insights from interspecies communication and channeled messages
Through a diverse range of species from beluga whales, red squirrels, and flamingos to companion animals, Dr. Eiler sheds new light on the Divinity within all living creatures and the resultant moral imperatives for humanity.

In a deeply reflective work, science, metaphysics, and philosophy combine to open avenues of possibility and depth for our shared existence.

About the author:

Elizabeth S. Eiler, Ph.D. is a metaphysician, spiritual teacher, Reiki Master, and owner of Seven Stars Healing Arts, LLC. She is the author of Other Nations: A Lightworker's Case Book for Healing, Spiritually Empowering, and Communing with the Animal Kingdom and is a regular contributing writer for Lightworker's World.