Sunday, 1 January 2017

SCARED YET? by Jaye Ford

Scared Yet?Scared Yet? by Jaye Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: She fought back. She won. Now the nightmare begins...When Livia Prescott fights off a terrifying assault in a deserted car park, the media hail her bravery. And after a difficult year - watching her father fade away, her business struggle and her marriage fall apart - it feels good to strike back for once. But as the police widen their search for her attacker, menacing notes start arriving. And brave is not what she feels any longer ...Someone has decided to rip her life apart, then kick her when she's down. But is it a stranger or someone much closer to home? In fact, is there anyone she can now trust?When her family and friends are drawn into the stalker's focus - with terrifying consequences - the choice becomes simple. Fight back, or lose the people she loves the most...

MY REVIEW: A straightforward crime novel. It was good enough that I didn’t guess the perpetrator. Easy to read. Liked the fact that the main protagonist was a strong female. Some good suspense. A good, enjoyable holiday read that is light and undemanding. ***1/2

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Sunday, 25 December 2016

DEATH BEFORE THE FALL: BIBLICAL LITERALISM AND THE PROBLEM OF ANIMAL SUFFERING by Ronald E. Osborn

Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal SufferingDeath Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering by Ronald E. Osborn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: 2014 ECPA Top Shelf Book Cover Award Did animals have predatory natures before the fall? Did God punish innocent animals with a curse because of human sin? Is it possible for theistic evolution to be compatible with the Bible, even though animal death before the fall would contradict the teaching that death began after the first sin? In this eloquent and provocative "open letter" to evangelicals, Ronald Osborn wrestles with these pointed questions and with the problem of biblical literalism and animal suffering within an evolutionary understanding of the world. Considering the topic of animal suffering and predation as a theodicy dilemma, Osborn offers an open-minded exploration of the subject, specifically coming against the fundamentalist and literalist view of the book of Genesis and the creation account. He challenges one-dimensional reading of Scripture and shines a sobering light on the evangelical dogma responsible for advancing viewpoints long ago dismantled by science. Always acknowledging the traditionalist viewpoint, Osborn demonstrates with a wealth of exegetical and theological insight how orthodox Christianity can embrace evolutionary concepts without contradiction. Osborn forces us to ask hard questions, not only of the Bible and church tradition, but also and especially of ourselves.

MY REVIEW: Brilliant! Fundamentalist and literalistic readings of the biblical text are one of the banes of the Evangelical wing of Christianity. It has the loudest voice in Christendom, especially in the US, and many of those in this group believe their “truth” should be imposed on other Christians and, frequently, on others in secular and diversely religious or non-religious communities. The first half of the book alone is worth its price. Even non-believers in religion would benefit from reading the first half of the book, many of whom are just as literalistic in their reading of ancient texts as the Christian fundamentalists. Highly recommended.

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Friday, 23 December 2016

DOROTHEA GUTZEIT: BE TRUE AND SERVE by Dorothea Gutzeit

Dorothea Gutzeit: Be True and ServeDorothea Gutzeit: Be True and Serve by dorothea gutzeit
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A fascinating view of the “other side” in World War II, on the domestic front. Born in Berlin, Dorothea Gutzeit spent her formative years in Nazi Germany and in her war-torn city. She then forged a new life in Canada.

MY REVIEW: Enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Fascinating to read what it was like for a child growing up in Hitler's Germany. The author writes well and she has certainly lived an interesting life! Definitely worth a read if you like autobiography.

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Sunday, 4 December 2016

DRAW TO WIN: A CRASH COURSE ON HOW TO LEAD, SELL, AND INNOVATE WITH YOUR VISUAL MIND by Dan Roam

Draw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Visual MindDraw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Visual Mind by Dan Roam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Dan Roam's brilliant strategies for creating images, sharing them and explaining them have finally been distilled into a "best of" handbook for busy readers who need to digest the takeaways, fast. Since his first book, The Back of the Napkin, Roam has argued that imagery is the most powerful tool for leadership, innovation, and sales. Even though we live in an era of big data, one great picture is worth a million numbers (not to mention a thousand words). A clever idea, visually expressed, can resonate with everyone from the CEO down to the newest intern. The best news is that you don't need to be an artist to create attention-grabbing images. Roam can teach anyone with a pen and paper to translate business ideas into engaging and clear images. He identifies the types of pictures that work best in various settings and shares the basic shapes that all business pictures can be built from. This is an indispensable handbook for business leaders struggling to communicate more effectively in a world that everyday becomes less verbal and more visual.

MY REVIEW: Great book! I found this wandering in a bookstore and it captured my attention. I learned so much reading this book. I have always been interested in mind mapping because of its visual element. Dan Roam broadened my horizons about the way in which simple drawing can be so powerful in communicating ideas of all sorts. I’ve started using the ideas in this book in my own professional life — and, while I am still learning, it has created a fresh shift in my thinking. I’m planning to use these ideas in my teaching of online classes next semester. If you are interested in expressing yourself clearly and creatively in professional life, check this book out. I’ll pursuing more of this author’s books in the future.

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Friday, 11 November 2016

Brainwalker by Robyn Mundell

BrainwalkerBrainwalker by Robyn Mundell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Fourteen-year-old Bernard thinks outside the box. The only problem is that neither his school nor his ultra-rational physicist father appreciate his unique ideas. When he reacts to a stressful situation at school by mooning the class, his suspension sends him straight to his father’s workplace. After his frustrated father leaves him unattended, Bernard does what any teen would do: wander into the particle accelerator and accidentally get transported through a wormhole!

It doesn’t take long for Bernard to realize he’s in deep trouble. Not only did the wormhole drop him in the middle of a civil war over a depleted resource, but the battle is actually taking place inside his father’s brain. Bernard has one chance to save the dying side of his father’s creative brain from the tyrannical left side. Can he use his outside-the-box thinking to save his father’s life?

Brainwalker is a young adult sci-fi fantasy novel that turns the world of neuroscience on its head. If you like incredible fantasy worlds, fast-paced entertainment, and the human mind, then you’ll love Robyn Mundell and Stephan Lacast’s amazing journey inside the brain.

MY REVIEW: An enjoyable fantasy sci-fi that is more fantasy than science. I suspect young teens will enjoy this. I don’t think it is as fast-paced as the book description implies, but it is well-paced. The author makes use of a somewhat simplistic left/right split brain idea to good effect. The creatures are interesting and the plot is original.

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley with an invitation to write an unbiased review.

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Monday, 3 October 2016

THE PAINTED BRIDGE by Wendy Wallace

The Painted BridgeThe Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A spellbinding tale of secrets, lost lives, and a Victorian woman seizing her own destiny
Just outside London behind a tall stone wall stands Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, recently-married Anna Palmer becomes its newest arrival, tricked by her husband into leaving her home, incarcerated against her will and declared hysterical and unhinged. With no doubts as to her sanity, Anna is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her story.

But Anna quickly learns that liberty will not come easily. And the longer she remains at Lake House, the more she realises that -- like the ethereal bridge over the asylum's lake -- nothing is as it appears. Locked alone in her room, she begins to experience strange visions and memories that may lead her to the truth about her past, herself, and to freedom - or lead her so far into the recesses of her mind that she may never escape…
Set in Victorian England, as superstitions collide with a new psychological understanding, this elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut novel is a tale of self-discovery, secrets, and search for the truth in a world where the line between madness and sanity seems perilously fine. (Goodreads)

MY REVIEW: An excellent read. There was real tension as Anna tries to survive and escape from her confinement. The Victorian culture was very well described and I learned a lot about what that period believed about mental health and its treatment. The experiments by a doctor that tries to work out how to read photographs to diagnose mental illness were intriguing — and loosely based on phrenology which was considered to be a science at the time. It’s a beautifully written novel with great plot development and interesting characters. Liked it a lot.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

BEAUTIFUL TO THE BONE by P G Lengsfelder

Beautiful to the BoneBeautiful to the Bone by P.G. Lengsfelder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Who can survive the siren call of beauty?

When four-year old Eunis Kindsvatter leaves her Minnesota farmhouse for the very first time, it’s because her mother drags her to a doctor . . .with the hope he’ll absolve her for Eunis’ face. It’s albino with a grotesque birthmark. “An unnaturally ugly thing,” according to Momma. Though the doctor finds nothing physically wrong, Eunis is kept isolated from the world, Momma filling her with tales of fearful gods, demons and prophecy.

Eunis begins to experience unpredictable hypersensitivity to people and places. She instinctively gravitates to water and to Freyja, the Norse goddess of beauty, Momma’s ideal. Determined to be of value, Eunis embarks on a journey to quantify beauty, to protect future generations from the pain she’s experienced, and someday “make everybody beautiful” —through science.

But Eunis’ obsessive research into beauty draws her into a world of unreliable voices, unforeseen pleasures, dangers and death. In Beautiful to the Bone, Eunis must fight for her sanity and reconcile the gap between the science of beauty and the incalculable qualities that draw us to it. (Goodreads)

MY REVIEW: I really enjoyed this book. The plot is quite different to anything I’ve read before and I was never sure where the story would lead me. The character of Eunis is deeply and richly drawn and I felt the pain of her need to pursue an objective understanding of beauty. The book is beautifully written with evocative language and genuine empathy for the characters. It was thought provoking and its exploration of beauty, and what it is, made me reflect on my own notions of beauty and the tendency I (and perhaps all of us) have to see beauty as only skin deep rather than what is at the heart and soul of an individual. An excellent read.

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