Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review – On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

2015-02-19_17-09-17

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, besides being a mouthful of a title for a book, is children’s book and a fantasy. I’d give it a G to PG rating because of some bad guys that might be scary for a younger reader. It’s written at a juvenile level, which is a good thing as a children’s book, but some of the words are mash ups of regular words, so they might be hard for a young reader to figure out. With critters like toothy cows and flabbits, depending on the age of the reader, the little one might need some adult help.

This book is the first in a series, and it covers a series of events for a grandfather, mother, and the three children. The older boy (Janner) is 12ish, the younger boy (Tink) is 11, and the youngest of the three, the girl (Leeli), is maybe 8ish, I forget. Much of the story focuses on the older boy’s thoughts/actions but then the story shifts to pull in the point of view of all three children with a smattering of thoughts from the mother and grandfather.

For story development and mechanics, I found the book to be a bit thin on those points. But then I know I don’t read fiction like a normal person (whatever that is). As a writer I’m reading with a different kind of brain. If the story doesn’t suck me in and keep me sucked in, I will start to pick apart the mechanics. This story didn’t suck me in.

For children, I think this is a perfectly acceptable read and fun story for them. They won’t give a hoot about story mechanics. It’s an entertaining read for a youngster with lots of things going on with twists in the story line. For kids, I recommend this story. If you’re an adult looking for an easy read, this fits the bill. If you’re an adult looking for a story with some meat to it, keep looking.

Book Review – The Art of Possibility

2015-02-07_18-12-52

I struggle with frustration. Unchecked frustration for me turns to anger. It’s how I operate and how I am wired. But what if I can modify that circuit? Are we really as hard wired as we think we are in our behavior and actions?

My life coach, Chris Dewey, recommended this book to me. The transforming this book discusses centers on looking at things in a different way. When something goes wrong, what if you looked at it with a completely different perspective? Thing A didn’t go wrong, but it instead offered a new possibility or alternative outcome. I’m not saying it’s only a feel good book of all things work out for the good in the end or any of that crap, but it’s more about changing how you think about things regardless of what you’ve been taught, learned, or picked up from some of our whacked out cultural rules.

This book had some good information in it. I ultimately grew annoyed with the plethora of analogies and stories from the authors’s real life experiences or parables, but some were good. Personally I’ve gotten way more insight and transformation from working with my coach, but this book would have been a good place for me to start if I didn’t already have the coach in the mix.

“What the heck is a life coach?” you ask. Check out the link above for Chris and see for yourself.

The White Coat Investor – Book Review

5-14-2014 8-29-27 PM

I will read just about anything. So among the various fiction works most often on my eReader, sometimes a non fiction book magically appears. I started to have a little more interest in investing lately, and by “a little more” it is really a vast amount of interest considering my prior interest was zero. As you can guess by the title, this book is a) about investing, b) geared toward doctors.

I’m not a doctor; however, this book still has some basic, clear information on how to grow your assets. I previously didn’t know squat about what to do for retirement other than take “some” out of my paycheck each week and dump it into my employer’s retirement fund. I now have a much better understanding of how that works and what I should be contributing rather than a vague “some” money. I previously did not know that you could bank money in a HSA (if you don’t know what that is, read the book or Google it), and it can be used like an ongoing medical fund (tax free medical savings) since the money will roll over year to year if you don’t spend it all. I always looked at the HSA as a short term, year by year, put some money aside to cover prescriptions and copays. This book outlines a different, and yes, still legal, way to maximize the benefits of an HSA. I didn’t understand what it meant for assets to go into probate upon one’s death if a will is not available; now I do.

The book, again is geared toward doctors or those with a hefty income, which SO is not me, but it still has great info in it. Plus I came away with way more knowledge about investing and ways to save than I had at the start. I won’t be playing the stock market anytime soon, but I do have a plan for building assets with the goal to retire early. For me, I’m not trying to amass a million bucks for retirement by age 40 which is what this book promotes. I’m already 40 and don’t have these kinds of assets. I don’t make $200K/year which is the example salary used in the book. And I don’t wear a white coat. BUT, I have more knowledge about things that have always been a mystery to me before, and that’s always a good thing.

This book is an easy read. Written so even I could understand the investing/money lingo. Even if you don’t meet the white coat criteria, it’s still a good read with great information in it. Give it a whirl. I bet you learn something!

 

A Week in Winter – Book Review

3-9-2014 8-19-56 AM

A Week in Winter is my first Maeve Binchy fiction read. Binchy died in 2013, and this was one of her final books. There is another one coming out in 2014, so unless she had several books written and squirreled away, these will be her final novels. I read her non-fiction book on writing a couple of years ago which I found interesting.

My friend, Bridget, is a big Binchy fan. This one had good reviews online, and Bridget also enjoyed it. I’m always up for new reads, so I gave it a whirl.

The story centers around a run down estate in West Ireland. A group of prior town residents come back home for various reasons and become involved in restoring the house and grounds to turn it into a hotel. The characters in the story are those that return to convert the home and the visitors during the first week the hotel opens.

It took me several weeks to get through this one. Yes, my busy life was part of the reason, but I also never found myself hooked early on. Each character has a self-titled chapter. The chapter covers many years, thus the chapters are lengthy, and the chapter contains other characters completely unrelated to the story. So I was often distracted during this read, and wasn’t sure which character I was supposed to be rooting for. Some of the character back story was interesting; some of it, to me at least, was useless. The ending left me doing a head scratch, “Uh….okayyy.” It didn’t feel like there was a real conclusion to the story other than a vague “and they all lived happily ever after” ending.

The scenery descriptions were probably my favorite parts. Those were done well.

Anyway, this one wasn’t to my particular taste. Overall, it’s an easy read. G rated. Given the reviews, way more folks have enjoyed it way more than I did.

 

Through the Fog – Book Review

1-15-2014 7-32-11 PM
Through the Fog is by Joel D Canfield. The main character has lost his memory, and that’s where the story begins. It starts off in the States then switches to Ireland where the bulk of the story happens. Having made a couple of trips to Ireland, I enjoyed reading about some places in the story that I’d visited. You stay on a quick pace with the hero as he tries to figure out friend from foe.
Overall this is a really fun story. I don’t normally like first person books, but I did like this one. I wasn’t sure how the whole amnesia thing would play out, but being inside the head of a character that lost his memory was quite fun. Often I found myself chuckling at some of the things he thought about while in the middle of a crisis. The reason I found humor in these things was because this is exactly the kind of thought wandering I would do when I should be focusing on more pressing matters at hand.
I recommend this to anyone to read. No swearing. No sex. No graphic violence. I’d give it a G rating. Don’t mistake that G rating for being boring though, because this is an entertaining read. Enjoy!