Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Review: Ron Kardashian’s 30-Second Solution

Through my newfound obsession, Net Galley, I received a free ARC copy of Ron Kardashian’s upcoming new book on my kindle for review. The full title of this work is “Ron Kardashian’s 30-Second Solution: Transform your Body, Business, Relationships, and Life in Just Seconds at a Time”. It is due to come out in early October.

According to Ron’s premise in this book (which I would consider “self-help”), most of the decisions we make in a day are made in 30 seconds or less. Do I order the donut or the low-fat muffin? Do I wear my seat belt? Do I sign on the dotted line? Ron focuses on the power of positive thinking, the power of making good choices and actions, and the power of words. What am I saying? Thinking? Doing? According to Ron, you can make positive changes in your life by keeping these thoughts and actions positive and healthy. “If you believe it, you can become it” is the type of thing he is espousing. Ron also inserts some research on brain studies showing the power of positive thoughts and actions. “You can change your brain!” kind of stuff. I will admit, I was less impressed with this type of data (I’m one of those people who need to read the whole original study in a medical journal – period – before I take incredible results to heart. But that’s just me!). Ron is a “life coach” by day – and I found on the internet that he is also a pastor (I’m not sure of what denomination if you are wondering). Ron “coaches” his readers to make a better life by focusing on what they are thinking, saying, and doing each day.

To be honest, when I put in for this book I missed the fact that Ron’s last name was Kardashian. When the book arrived I thought: “Wait — not Kardashian like that family on tv??” I will admit: I don’t want much reality tv (though I confess to a fondness for America’s Got Talent), and I wasn’t sure who or what this guy was – but his last name made me wonder. A little internet searching showed me that Ron is a relative of the well-known sisters and a pastor. He is a life coach and seems like a really positive and healthy person. I enjoyed reading his book. I have to agree with Ron, too: much of the decisions we make each day are quick, yet can yield long-term consequences. How many times do we say “If only…”? If everyone thought more positively and acted healthily and positively, the world would probably be a kinder, gentler place. However, while I agree that negative thoughts and action can only hurt, I have to stop short of thinking that positive thoughts always yield results. If everyone was able to say: “I’m going to get this job!” before an interview and it yielded direct results, well – I think our employment rate would be much lower. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone into an audition thinking “I’m going to nail this song!” and did – and then thought “I did great! That part is mine!” and I didn’t get it. Sometimes there are things in life that we can’t control. It’s good to just accept that gracefully.

Ron’s Christian faith does shine through in this book. His earlier work was an exercise book with “God” in the title. This one seems toned down – I never saw Ron listed as “pastor” in this book, but did on the internet. This is fine to me – as a Christian it never turns me off when people work God in to the equation; however, I could see how some people might not like that element. For some reason, this book reminded me of Dr. Oz. I don’t watch his show (unless  it’s on when I’m on the treadmill at the gym) but an incredible amount of people quote Dr. Oz to me. People will say (often they are women friends of mine) “Well, Dr. Oz says…” or “I heard Dr. Oz say…” like they know him. Dr. Oz has that friendly, personal quality. To me, Ron Kardashian falls in the same category. You feel like you’ve been coached by him in a session once you’ve reached the end of his book. You really feel like he has your best interests at heart. I’ll be curious to see if some of my friends start quoting him to me…

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Thanks, HCI, for my review copy!

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Quick Review: City of Dreams by William Martin

If you read my blog, you know I love William Martin’s historical mysteries, following an item throughout the years from past to present, while in alternate chapters modern day antique expert, Peter Fallon, and his girlfriend, Evangeline, risk life and limb searching for said object as well. This novel came out in the spring, but I just recently purchased it for my Kindle (after a recommendation from my brother-in-law).

In this installment, Peter and Evangeline are seeking some “New Emission Bonds” from the Revolutionary War – issued by Alexander Hamilton and with compounded interest worth millions and millions of dollars. Of course, others are racing against time to find the bonds as well (this time, the Russian mob), and Peter and Evangeline need to separate fact from fiction and puzzle out the clues to figure out just where the bonds are. Then it becomes a race to see who can get to them first.

As always, I love these novels! I enjoy the jumping back and forth from past to present, but particularly enjoy the historical fiction piece.

Fans of Martin will undoubtedly enjoy his latest novel, and the added bonus of how it ties into the issues our current government is having with controlling debt.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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YA Review: Double by Jenny Valentine

Through Net Galley, I received a free Kindle download of Jenny Valentine’s YA novel “Double” to review from Disney Publishing. This book was first published in Great Britain. “Double” tells the story of Chap – a young boy who is on the run and has been in and out of group homes for delinquents ever since his grandfather had an accident and was taken to a nursing home. The workers at the facility in which he is staying notice his incredible resemblance to a boy named Cassiel Roadnight – a boy who disappeared two years earlier during an evening celebration in his small town. Seeking to belong somewhere and to have a family, Chap tells them that he really is Cassiel – and so begins his attempt to take on the life on the missing boy, all the while worrying that the real Cassiel will show up and try to claim his life. However, as Chap settles into a routine with Cassiel’s family, he begins to discover that things may not be what they seem and that he is not the only one with secrets to hide.

I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down. It had suspense and mystery, yet it read quickly (less than 300 pages) and easily. I would recommend it for older YA readers due to intense themes. I would think that reluctant readers would enjoy it.

You can see this book on Amazon (where I am an Associate):

Thank you, Disney Hyperion, for sending me my copy!

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Quick Children’s Review: The Boxcar Children Graphic Novel #2 – Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler and Mike Dubisch

Through Net Galley, I received a free download of this novel to review from the publishers at Open Road. The Boxcar Children series has been around for a long time. In case you don’t know the premise, four orphaned siblings live in a boxcar and have adventures and solve mysteries. They reunite with their grandfather, but the adventures continue. The original series was created by Gertrude Chandler in the 1940’s. In this rendition, Mike Dubisch has put the story into a graphic “comic book” format. It reads easily and has colorful pictures. It was also quite short – just over 30 pages. I could see how reluctant readers or those seeking a quick read would like this series. To be honest, I found some of the language stilted – since it condensed quite a bit of text into a shorter, graphic format – but I still think that both boys and girls would enjoy this series. I plan to share mine with my favorite second grader.

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

Thanks, Open Road, for sending me a copy to review!

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Review: “Love, Lucy” by Lucille Ball

So — last week Lucille Ball would have turned 100. I love Lucy. Seriously. Some of my early memories involve watching “I Love Lucy” in black and white on the television in my parents’ room while my dad watched the news on the color tv (the news used to scare me as a kid). I loved the crazy antics of Lucy and Ethel. I loved how they got into the most ridiculous scrapes. And I loved that I could always count on a happy ending.

After watching as much of the “I Love Lucy” marathon on tv last weekend that my family could stand, I remembered that I had a book somewhere about Lucille Ball: a hardcover, library book sale $1.00 find. I found it and started to read it. And what a find! “Love, Lucy” is an autobiography of Lucille Ball that was done many years before her death (mostly taped remembrances set down on paper by a writer), that had been tucked away in a drawer and found by her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, after Lucille Ball’s death. What I loved about this book is that it was truly in Lucy’s voice. As I read it, I felt like I was listening to her talking. I just loved it.

“Love, Lucy” traces Lucille Ball’s life from her earliest days to her marriage with Gary Morton. It has great pictures in it, too! I never knew the hardship that Lucille Ball came from. I never realized how much “luck” played in to her career. I didn’t even realize that Desi Arnaz was several years younger than her. Lucille’s telling of her story, never apologizing, never seeking sympathy, was just so intimate and honest, I felt that I was sitting down and learning new things about an old friend.

I haven’t read other biographies on Lucille Ball, but I would have to assume that having someone else analyze your life is different from when you analyze it yourself. Lucie Arnaz does write that Lucille Ball was careful to not write things that would “hurt” Desi.

I think Lucy fans would enjoy my book sale find!

See it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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Audiobook Review: “The Dante Club: A Novel” by Matthew Pearl

My brother-in-law (who reads more than anyone I know) recommended this book to me as he thought I would like it. And I have to confess – I listened to it last month and am only just now getting around to reviewing it. Why? Well, first we went on vacation; but that’s really not an excuse. If truth be told, I couldn’t think of much to say.

Here’s the scoop: it’s 1865 and several notable Bostonians gather to discuss literature and Dante in particular, forming “the Dante Club”. I loved this part – I always like books where historical characters come to life (as long as they are done appropriately). A serial killer starts terrorizing the city and the clues are linked to Dante’s Inferno, so the club must put their heads together to solve the mystery and stop the killer.

Here’s where I started to have problems. I love mysteries, but I do not like really graphic stories. Some of the descriptions of the murders were so vivid and graphic (the word ‘disgusting’ comes to mind) that I had to turn off the CD player. I also couldn’t have it playing while I drove the kids places as I felt it was too graphic. It reminded me of “Angels and Demons” which I found vividly repulsive.

Here’s my other problem with the story: I kept zoning out. Now perhaps we can blame the suburban Boston traffic, or my general fatigue, or the fact that I was mentally composing what I needed to get at the grocery store, but bottom line: I missed a lot of this story as I wasn’t riveted.

At first I loved the narrator, John Siedman, and was impressed in how he could change his voice to make each main character unique (Oliver Wendall Holmes, Lowell, H.W. Longfellow, J. T. Fields, etc.). However, as with every book I listen to that takes place in Boston, I always cringe when they do the accent. Here’s the scoop people: the Boston Brahmins did not – nor will they ever – pronounce “Harvard” as “Hah – vid” . “Haw – vud” is much closer. That’s all I’ll say, but just trust me on it.

I’d be curious as to whether any of my readers have read Pearl’s books and if you liked/disliked them. I am wondering whether I should try another.

In the meantime, here’s a look at it on Amazon where I am an Associate: (I got mine from the library!)

 

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Quick Review: “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen

Coming home from vacation I finally got around to reading Sarah Addison Allen’s first novel “Garden Spells”, which I downloaded on my Kindle. As with her other books, I just loved it!

Claire Waverley creates interesting home-cooked concoctions that magically affect their eaters, and runs a catering company in her small North Carolina town. Her younger sister Sydney arrives home one night, after being gone for several years, with her 5-year-old daughter and with no information on where she’s been or why she’s home now. Claire and Sydney must forge their relationship as sisters anew, and Sydney must come to grips with who she is and put her past aside, in this engaging novel. Ms. Allen again works in elements of magic which add a certain mystical feeling to her story, sprinkled liberally with romance as well.

Fans of Ms. Allen’s other books will most probably like this one as well!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

While on vacation, I downloaded and read “The Winter Sea” on my Kindle (actually my Kindle recommended the title to me). This was a new author for me and the genre was one I don’t often read – historical romance.

In “The Winter Sea”, author Carrie McClelland is visiting the coast of Scotland to get ideas for a historical novel she is penning. Carrie starts having vivid dreams and strong feelings about the different places she sees and even the people she meets. Carrie’s ancestor lived in this area, though she has little information on her, and Carrie eventually comes to believe that she is channelling the memories of Sophie, her ancestor from the 1700’s. In current day, Carrie feels drawn to the son of the man from she rents a small cottage; and both his sons show romantic interest in her. Sophie’s story and her history become Carrie’s quest, and she learns about Sophie’s life as she tells her story through her novel.

This lengthy (over 500 pages) book was an interesting read, especially as it was really two stories in one, with alternating chapters (Carrie in present day; Sophie in the 1700’s). I did find some of the story rather flat: everyone seemed in love with Carrie and I wasn’t exactly sure why. She was an “okay’ character, but not particularly compelling or extraordinary. In the 1700’s, Sophie had her share of suitors as well, though she professed an undying love for one man. I did find some of the events in the story – particularly those of 1700 – rather unbelievable. And of course, it all tied together neatly. however, if you enjoy historical romances, you would probably enjoy this novel.

I have to say that the most interesting part of this novel to me was the idea of “genetic memory” and memory being handed down. At one point it is said that some believe that people who think they have past lives are actually having genetic memories from their ancestors. An interesting concept!

I thought perhaps this story would be similar to “Outlander” – the Diana Gabaldon series which I adore – however, I consider the Outlander books to be more of a saga (and one in which I have learned a ton about what life was like in the 1700’s in Scotland) while I would categorize this book as a story.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

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