Friday, October 21, 2011

A Secure Heart

Title:  A Secure Heart
Author:  Charity Parkerson
Publication Information:  Smashwords edition PDF. 2011. 305 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote:  "You are selfish, because you think that your pain is your own, and you screw the rest of us out of being able to share it with you. It's emotional blackmail."

A Secure Heart is a collection of stories centered around the men of a security service company. The characters in the different stories do interrelate. The relationships continue from one story to the next. However, each section of the book focuses on the love story of one character.

A Secure Heart falls into the "adult" fiction genre, a fact I did not realize when I requested the review copy. I normally do not read this genre. However, having received the book, I did decide to read it. I will not comment on those aspects of the book. If that appeals to you, you will enjoy the book. It's not something I choose to read. That being said, I still did enjoy the stories themselves.

The stories each have substance to them. The erotica is part of the story, but it is not the story. Elements of situations the characters find themselves in are real. One story deals with friendship evolving into love. One story deals with the thought of losing a loved one and what you would do to save them. Another deals with infertility and its effect on a relationship.

If this genre is not one you read, perhaps you may be able to look past it and enjoy the stories themselves. If the genre does appeal to you, then you get the added bonus of a good story to surround it.


Title:  Anyone
Author:  Melissa Conway
Publication Information:  Smashwords edition. 2011. 209 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered via Smashwords.

Favorite Quote:  "The barbed-wire fences people erect around themselves are not just to keep people out, but to keep our feelings from getting out."

Anyone is a young adult book - a coming of age story set in a futuristic world. It is part of the Gossamer Sphere series. Titania is a high school junior with concerns about her appearance, her lack of friends, her move to a new school, her label as "loser" in school, and her family situation. Typical concerns for a teen but set in the context of people with superhuman powers and those who seek to destroy them.

The book carries forward both the story themes effectively. Titania goes from being friendless to find her place and friends who care about her. This is incorporated into her discovery about her background and her powers and again finding a place where she fits in and belongs.

The book is fast moving story. Titania, or Tainie, is a compelling character. Her experiences are something most people will relate to at some level. So, her triumph feels good. The power she discovers - the ability to be anyone - is also one people dream about. The ability to define ourselves and possibly to reinvent ourselves is one many people call on throughout their lives. If you could be anyone, who would you choose to be?

The Five Minute Snack Diet

Title:  The Five Minute Snack Diet
Author:  Benjamin Swartzman
Publication Information:  Zeus Press Inc. 2011. 74 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered via Smashwords.

Favorite Quote:  "As adults, we have a duty to ourselves and our loved ones to take full responsibility for our subconscious beliefs and our lives."

The Five Minute Snack Diet is, of course, a diet book. The central idea of the book is to break up your eating into six meals a day - 3 meals and 3 snacks - with each one being a smaller quantity of course. The book does make suggestions as to food choices, but primarily focuses on the behavior aspects. Some of the behaviors addressed are the mental approach to our health, sleep, exercise, hydration, and the multiple meals.

The book presents common sense information nicely organized by topic. It does not offer a magic cure, which is a really good thing because as we all know, there is no magic cure. It presents ideas for food choices, but does not present lists of prescribed foods.

Overall, the ideas in the book have been seen in many sources before, but the book does a good job of presenting them in a concise, organized manner.

Dreams to Reality: Author Your Dreams Action Plan, Part I: Introduction to Dream Planning

Title:  Dreams to Reality:  Author Your Dreams Action Plan, Part I:  Introduction to Dream Planning
Author:  Deborah S. Nelson
Publication Information:  Author Your Dreams Publishing Company. 2009. 116 pages via pdf.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered via PDF.

Favorite Quote:  "It has been said that you are what you eat, but it can also be said that you are what you speak. Words frame our worldview."

Dreams to Reality:  Author Your Dreams Action Plan Part I, as the name indicates, is part one of a series of books. The second part is an accompanying workbook. The third part is software and your very own published dream plan book.

This part of the series is the concepts - the what and the why - of dream planning. It falls into the genre of self-help books. It discusses the concepts in a frameworks of four steps - conceive, believe, receive, and achieve. Determine what you want. Believe that you can reach it. Ensure that you mind and heart are open to receiving even if it is not quite how you envision it. Work to achieve your dreams.

The ideas are not new. They are presented in a logical, easy to read format. The book makes many references to outside sources including the second and third part of this series. Each section also has additional resources listed for further reading. However, the concepts can stand alone and be applied without those sources also.

If this genre of books appeals to you, you will find this book a useful new addition.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beginning Google Blogger

Title:  Beginning Google Blogger
Author:  Heather Wright-Porto
Publication Information:  Apress. 2010. 192 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book as a first source to learn the "how-to's" of using Blogger.

Favorite Quote:  Not really a quotable book.

Beginning Google Blogger, as the title suggest, is a reference tool for the beginner - a beginner to the world of blogging and to using Google Blogger.

For learning what to do, the book is exceptional. It walks through the process of setting up a blog step by step. It describes what needs to be done and also goes into reasons why. It is helpful that the book discusses and asks the user to look at their objectives for blogging such that the blog can be designed from the outset to work towards those goals.

For learning how to do something, the book is dated as most technology books are. Google has made many changes and enhancements to the Blogger software and interface. As such, the specific menu options and screen prints no longer appear the way the illustrations in the book show. However, it is not difficult to use the information provided in the book and find the corresponding menu/screen/selection in the software.

I hope the author updates the book for the new "how to" steps because the book is a great tool for the beginning blogger.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Title:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Author:  Amy Chua
Publishing Information:  Penguin Press. 2011. 235 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book as the book selection from my local book club.

Favorite Quote"All decent parents want to do what is best for their children."

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a much talked about, much written about, much discussed book on parenting - in the Chinese culture and in "western" cultures. In the context of her own life, Amy Chua talks about parenting styles. Her style - the Chinese style - is about setting the highest expectations and accepting nothing less no matter what. She describes her own parenting struggles with her daughters, and the success and failures as a parent.

We can talk about this book on two levels - the ideas of the book and how the book reads as a story. To me, the idea of the book is summarized by the above quote. "All decent parents want to do what is best for their children." Different people have wildly different approaches as to how to go about doing do so. As the book points out, differences occur based on demographics, cultural background, and individual experiences. The discussion in the book and everything that has appeared in the media since its publication makes for fascinating discussion points. The book does not answer (and I would not expect it to) the question as to which parent style is better. It is a matter of opinion.

Aside from the philosophical discussion, the book is supposed to be the story of a family. Unfortunately, the book for me does not elicit emotion for the characters. The telling of the story seems a somewhat detached look rather than a personal tale. For this reason, the book was not a compelling read.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Proof of Heaven

Title:  Proof of Heaven
Author:  Mary Curran Hackett 
Publishing Information:  William Morrow Paperbacks. 2011. 336 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote: "The only constant in Cathleen's life was her ability to love...Her love was so different for each person, but miraculously her heart had room enough for all of them. Even when her faith and reason failed her, love did not."

Proof of Heaven is a book about a mother and a child and the lengths any parent would go to save a sick child. It is also a book about beliefs - as the title suggests - about god and what happens after death. Cathleen is a young single mother trying to care for Colm, her very young but very sick child. Due to his illness, Colm has "died" many times in his life and then returned.

The book touches on different points of view on heaven and what happens after death - the absolute believer in heaven, the nonbeliever, the one torn between belief and nonbelief, and the believer who no longer believes. Ultimately, the book is about a mother's love and her desire to take any path that will mean a cure for her son.

The topic of the book is an interesting one that has been discussed in so many contexts. The first half of the book develops the different points of view and depicts them through individual characters in the book. The characters are at some points likable and at some points really not. The story is well told at this point and interesting to read.

The latter half of the book unfortunately goes beyond that. To me, it becomes melodramatic. Colm is age seven towards the end of the book. The statements attributed to him come across as much older sounding. Perhaps, that is maturity attained through living with illness, but it does not always ring true. It seems to be there to make the point of the book.

Whether or not the book gives proof of heaven, I leave you to discover.