Thursday, 13 April 2017

Book Review | Lyn Coffin | A Taste Of Cascadia

A Taste of Cascadia

This is a book that I won in a giveaway. The giveaway was listed on Goodreads. As I won this book a review was not required. Any opinions shared on this book are 100% my own and are not influenced by the author or publisher. 

Author: Lyn Coffin
Title: A Taste Of Cascadia
Genre: Fiction, Play, Short Story, Comedy

Pages: 54
Price: 99p on kindle

Started: 11th April 2017
Finished: 11th April 2017

Synopsis: A taste of Cascadia features two short comedic plays, with the Pacific North West as a backdrop. 
In Lutefisk, a middle aged computer dating couple discover their previous connection from an unlikely event. 
Fries in a wine glass brings us two sisters exchanging differing accounts of their growing up years in a diner, following the funeral of their sister. Secrets and jealousies are revealed as they reconnect after a long absence, and hope for reconciliation. 
Following the launch of this book,  these plays were performed around the Seattle area in various senior centers with an abundance of laughter and appreciation.

Review: I would like to thank the author for listing this giveaway. If it had not been for the giveaway I would not have known this book even existed. I am grateful for having won this book. Even though I entered the giveaway, when I read the synopsis I was unsure whether I would like this book or not as I am not really a fan of plays or comedy. I much prefer crime, horror and fantasy novels. However, I found these short comedic plays to be relatively entertaining. This book is not something I would pick over something in my preferred genres but it was definitely an interesting read. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy plays or comedy; definitely a mix of the two. Even though this book did not blow me away it will remain on my bookshelves and maybe one day it will draw me back in for another read. Lyn Coffin is an excellent author and if she wrote stories of a darker nature then I would definitely invest in them. 

Rating: 3/5

The reason I gave this a 3 star rating is simply because I do not enjoy this genre of writing as much as others. My rating has nothing to do with the writing style or how enjoyable this book is. The writer has a good and gripping writing style and if this book had been a crime or horror novel then I would have been hooked.  

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Book Review | Michael Flexer | Edmund's Struggle

Edmund's Struggle

Author: Michael Flexer
Title: Edmund's Struggle: Under The Spell Of The White Witch
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Adventure, Children, Magic, Young Adult

Pages: 63
Price: £2.80

Started: 10th April 2017
Finished: 10th April 2017

Synopsis: Edmund isn't happy when he and his brother and sisters are sent to the professor's house in the countryside. But when he follows Lucy into an old wardrobe and to the land of Narnia, things get much worse. There he meets the evil white witch, who convinces him to betray his family. Before Edmund knows it, he's in over head! How can he escape for the white witch's clutches and find the strength to help save Narnia and his family from a terrible fate?

Review: This is a short story extension to the C.S. Lewis novel, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, and it gives insight into Edmund and his actions in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Although this book is not full of action and excitement it is a good addition to The Chronicles Of Narnia. Having the insight into Edmund helps to understand his character and the choices that he makes. This short story shows that Edmund has made bad choices but is completely misunderstood. I can't say that this book gripped my attention but it is a great addition to the Narnia book series and for that reason alone it will have a permanent place on my bookshelves. This book is part of a four set short story. Each book revolves around a different child. The other three books follow Lucy, Susan and Peter. These books may not be read more than once if at all but they are worth having on the shelf for fans of The Chronicles Of Narnia. Each book adds detail and insight into the feelings and thoughts of the main characters as they embark on the amazing adventure to free Narnia from the control of the white witch. 

Rating: 3/5 stars

I would have given this book a one or two star rating if it did not add to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Book Review | Pauline Baynes | Lucy's Adventure: The Search For Aslan

Lucy's Adventure: The Quest for Aslan, the Great Lion (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Author: Pauline Baynes
Title: Lucy's Adventure: The Search For Aslan
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Adventure, Children, Magic, Young Adult

Pages: 96
Price: £1.99

Started: 10th April 2017
Finished: 10th April 2017

Synopsis: At first Lucy Pevensie is sad when she is sent with her sister and brothers to the countryside to escape the dangers of wartime London. But when they arrive, something wonderful happens: a game of hide and seek turns into the adventure of a lifetime! In the magical land of Narnia, Lucy and her brothers and sister meet Aslan, the great lion, who calls them to fulfil their destiny - free Narnia from the evil white witch!

Review: This is a short story extension to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. It gives a slight insight to into Lucy and her thoughts as she embarks on this amazing adventure to free Narnia from the white witch and save her faun friend. I have to be honest and say that I did not find this book particularly interesting and I did struggle to keep my attention on this book. However, it is worth the time to read as it is always interesting to get an idea of the thoughts and feelings of characters as they embark on a journey that is filled with fear and excitement. This book is a part of four short story extension books. The other three are based around Peter, Susan and Edmund. Each book follows a different child. These four books may not be ones that are read more than once if at all but they are still worth a place on shelves for fans of The Chronicles Of Narnia. Each short story adds something new and interesting to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe so I recommend giving them a read. Even if they aren't the best of stories, they are only really short books that can be finished in the blink of an eye. 

Rating: 3/5 stars

I would have given this book a one star rating if it did not add to the story of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Book Review | J.D. Barker | The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey

This book was sent to me for free. This book was sent to me by the publisher. I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Author: J.D. Barker
Title: The Fourth Monkey
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Dark, Fiction

Pages: 475
Price: £12.99
Release Date: July 2017

Started: 10th March 2017
Finished: 9th April 2017

Synopsis: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil ... do no evil. For over five years, the fourth monkey killer has terrorised the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realise he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive. 
As the lead investigator Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unravelling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.
With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer's identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the fourth monkey killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller. 

Review: Before I get into the review I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. It excites me that this book is described as "Se7en meets silence of the lambs" as those are two movies that I really enjoy. When it comes to thriller books and movies I have a pretty dark taste. This was a truly amazing book and with each turn of the page I became more and more lost in this book. This book is extremely exciting and action filled to the point that you will be on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. The addition of the diary entries makes for good insight into the killer's life, childhood and why he is like he is. This is the kind of book that grips the attention of the reader and holds it hostage until the end of the book. In my opinion this is the kind of book that would be perfect in the book collection of anyone who enjoys crime fiction and thriller novels. I firmly believe that this book would make an amazing movie adaptation so long as they didn't remove too many of the details from the book. I would highly recommend this book to any avid reader who enjoys mystery thrillers but I also suggest that other readers venture into the book as I am sure that as long as you don't mind gory details that you will fall deeply in love with this book. It is the kind of book that once you start reading you can't stop reading and put the book down. The ending of this book is a major cliff hanger so I am ready to have the next book and find out more about the story line. I enjoyed this book so much that I pre-ordered the next book for me and my sister as soon as it became available on Amazon. 

I gave this book a five star rating as it was just an epic read and left me hooked. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book as I am sure that it will be as amazing as the first. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Book Review | John Murray | Code Name: Papa

Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life while Hiding in Plain Sight

Pick up this book and you will be stuck between the pages right to the end.

This book was sent to me for free. I received this book from the publisher. I accepted this book in exchange for an honest review.

Author: John Murray

Title: Code Name: Papa
Genre: Memoir, Biography, Non-Fiction, Thriller, Autobiography

Pages: 326

Price: £13.75

Started: 15th February 2017

Finished: 10th March 2017

Synopsis: Who'd have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals - both men and women - who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that's what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.

Meanwhile, you're just going to have to call me 'papa' like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years. 

Review: Firstly, I would like to thank the author for writing such an amazing book based around his life. Secondly, I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. When I accepted this book for review I was not sure if I would enjoy it as I had not read a memoir before. I was always much more into fiction than I was in things that had been in other people's stories about their life. Once I started to read this book I found that I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was enjoying this book and that feeling of interest lasted right up until the last page of the book. This memoir is full of adventure, danger and action that kept me hooked. This is a non-fiction thriller that kept me gripped from start to finish. I found it near impossible to stop reading and put the book down. This book has broadened my reading interests and made me more open to memoirs but also it made me think about giving other genres that I tend to avoid a chance as I might just enjoy them after all. Trying new genres is a good way to broaden your reading horizons and if you don't enjoy the new genre then at least you gave something new a try. I definitely want to invest more time into reading memoirs. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys memoirs and non-fiction thrillers. I also suggest just giving this book or any out of your book comfort zone just to try something new and you just might experience something new that you enjoy. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Book Review | Terry Goodkind | Nest


This book was sent to me for free. This book was sent to me by the publisher. This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. 

Author: Terry Goodkind
Title: Nest
Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Mystery, Adult, Action, Suspense, Crime

Pages: 432
Price: £15.90

Started: 24th January 2017 
Finished: 15th February 2017

Synopsis: Kate Bishop thought she was an ordinary woman living and working in Chicago. But she unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation into a brutal murder, Kate makes a shocking discovery: she has the ability to identify killers just by looking into their eyes. Trying to grasp the implications of this revelation, Kate is drawn deep into a world of terror. She is tracked down by Jack Raines, a mysterious author with shadowy connections to those who share her ability. He tells Kate that her unique vision also makes her a target, and only he can help her. Now, hot on Jack and Kate's heels are a force of super predators, vicious and bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing until Kate is dead. But even as she fights for her life, Kate still isn't sure if Jack is really her salvation, or another killer coming to slaughter her. 

An explosive mix of action and suspense, Nest is a landmark new novel from worldwide best-selling author Terry Goodkind, and a complete reinvention of the contemporary thriller. Travel with Goodkind on a dangerous journey to the back alleys of the darknet, to the darkest corners of our minds, and to the very origins of what it is to be human. 

Review: Before I start the review of the book I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I would also like to thank the author for all the time and hard work he puts into all of his novels and how creative and imaginative his books are. Novels like this are a true work of art and you can clearly tell that the author put a lot of time and love into his creations. I am so excited to have this book in my collection. This was a truly amazing read that had me hooked from start to finish. This book was filled with plenty of action that kept me on the edge of my seat. I found it nearly impossible to stop reading and put this book down. I found myself really interested in this story line and rooted for Kate and Jack. The ending came as a real shock and i'm hoping for a second book that will tie up all the loose ends. The cliffhanger ending really shook me and after this book I found it hard to get into another book. I wondered about the ending so much that I allowed myself to slip into a reading slump. This is a book that I can see myself enjoying numerous times and it also makes me want to read more by Terry Goodkind. I would highly recommend this book to all readers but especially those that enjoy a good thriller that they can get lost in. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Book Excerpt | Eldon Taylor | Choices And Illusions

Choices and Illusions: How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be?

The Real Meaning in Life
By Eldon Taylor

Years ago a young woman came to me for help. To maintain confidentiality, I will invent a name for her. I’ll call her Mary. This young woman in her late thirties had a history of self-mutilation and suicidal behavior. She came in for pastoral counseling, and I agreed to see her only if her psychiatrist agreed and was kept fully informed. That issue out of the way, her first appointment was made. My secretary brought me her file, including the pre-process forms I used. As I reviewed the information in the file, I was taken by the fact that one of her prior therapists was a famous psychiatrist. I thought to myself, “And what on earth am I to do if this person couldn’t help her?”
During her first session, the terms of our arrangement were agreed upon. I would see her for ten weeks, once a week, and my conditions and requirements had to be kept. She agreed, and the session began, or perhaps more appropriately, she began sobbing and wailing. An hour passed, and nothing but tears to show for it. Few words could I understand amidst the sobbing. “Until next week,” I said, and we parted.
I thought about her for the entire week and decided to try something totally new, at least for me and for that time (circa 1990). I theorized that all the excessive crying was simply her attention-seeking mechanism combined with true feelings of despair, but to get past that, we had to dispense with the wailing. I took a mirror that had been given me by a cosmetic surgeon friend, and which I had used for years to show, as he did, just how uneven the halves of our faces are (left versus right). Brain hemisphere dominance theories suggest a correspondence, so this was in keeping with my research and work.
When Mary visited in week two she again began crying. I placed the mirror in front of her, explained as nicely as I could that she had to maintain some composure for me to help, told her to look at herself while she cried, and to let me know when she stopped. I stepped out of the office. Soon she opened the door. As I began to sit down, she started weeping again, so once again I exited. After three or four repetitions that admittedly took more than half of our time together, she stopped the sobbing and began talking. Her story was a sad one about a child who was neglected in favor of a younger sibling who was smarter, prettier, and so forth. Her early relationships with men were equally sad but not out of the realm of what happens to psychologically well-balanced people.
When we were finished speaking for the day, it was clear that Mary had dwelled on all the bad, shared her negative stories all too willingly, each time probably exaggerating them, and otherwise remained almost fixated on the worst possible future—in her case, becoming a bag lady in Las Vegas.
I gave Mary her homework, as part of our agreed terms. She was to do one good turn for someone, anyone, every day. She was to record the good deed in her journal at bedtime, just before going to sleep, focus on how the deed made her feel, and imagine how it made the recipient feel. The deed could be anything as simple as holding a door for someone or as emotionally demanding as helping a colleague she didn’t like. She was to bring the journal with her each week when she visited me.
The following week we reviewed her journal entries and her thoughts and feeling regarding each. Admittedly, some of her first week’s good deeds were pretty weak, but a couple of them provided an opportunity to draw out the difference in how it made Mary feel as well as how she might have felt if she had been the recipient. Her homework for the remaining weeks was simple: two good deeds every day and recorded per the earlier instructions.
Mary’s perspective changed. Her focus moved from bad things to good things. It was that simple. There is nothing more eloquent than just saying it how it is. Armed with a positive outlook and an eye to opportunities to do good deeds, and supported with what I call a “warm fuzzy feeling” that comes from helping others, Mary began to reinforce her own worth and find joy in living. It wasn’t long before her medication was cut back and then eliminated. Mary found meaning in life.

The “warm fuzzy feeling” comes from helping others.

I suggest to you that the real meaning in life comes from what you give, not from what you take. As Wayne Dyer puts it in his book The Power of Intention, “purpose is not about vocation—it’s about service!” I believe that the ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ we derive from a true service experience—going to the aid of another in need—is the best feeling we can have when we put our head on the pillow each night. Gerald Jampolsky has observed in his attitudinal healing centers that when a person goes to the aid of another, even otherwise intractable pain disappears.”

The real meaning in life comes from
What you give, not from what you take.

As an aside, when the centenarian population was studied to determine the reason behind their long lives and health, everyone expected something like “clean living and self-denial.” It turned out that that wasn’t the case. Indeed, the comedian George Burns could characterize many of the centenarians. They lived life without fear, full of joy and humor. What they all shared was a sense of purpose or connectedness to a Higher Power. The value to this sense of connectedness and purpose cannot be overstated. For me the warm fuzzy feeling keeps me connected and provides purpose. It doesn’t really matter what we do for a living, provided we do it with integrity and for the good of others. A piece of Chinese antiquity I cherish is a book written on jade. The author, Su Dong-Puo, a very famous Chinese writer, says it this way: “We do not work or search for food but for truth.” As President Woodrow Wilson stated over a thousand years later: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”