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~Review~ A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley

 

Book: A Vision of Lucy

Author: Margaret Brownley

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Expected Publication Date:  June 28th, 2011

Source: Copy in exchange for review from booksneeze.com

Star Rating: 5 out of 5

I enjoyed this book and many different levels. This book came to me in a time I am grappling with trying to find employment and have turned to God many times to help lead my way. Her journey mirrored mine exactly and it helped me want to continue on my journey and not give up like I have headed towards many times.

From the characters, the setting and time period everything was developed nicely and I felt instantly like Rocky Creek was my home away from home.  I have found a soft spot for historical romances, especially ones with as much character and thought has this one.

Lucy, a budding photographer is met by accident after accident when attempting to shoot the perfect photograph. One day on an adventurous shoot she meets a man named David Wolf. This man ends up turning her life and the rest of the towns lives upside down. We discover dark secrets that have ripped families apart and discovered budding romances hidden but discovered by photographs taking by Lucy.

I recommend this book to anybody looking a book that celebrates love and needs a little guidance in trying to find your place in the job world.

 

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~Review~ Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan

Book: Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

Author: Jeff Ryan

Publisher: Portfolio

Expected Publication Date:  August 4th, 2011

Source: Advanced Readers Galley through Netgalley.com

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed this little romp through Nintendo history. I had learned that they had a greater and more diverse history than just Mario and video games but I hadn’t really paid attention. It was cool to sort of get an inside look on how games like Donkey Kong, Mario, Zelda and all the other staples we are aware of came about. Learning about the evolution of the game systems Nintendo as gone through to get to where we are now is fascinating. You also learn about the rivalries between the other gaming companies and how that has made Nintendo better or in maybe some cases worse. How Mario used to be Jumpman and the Princess was named Pauline? Why Yoshi came about?

I was a little amazed to not see Goldeneye referenced when Ryan was talking about the N64 system (and if it was, it was in such a passing manner that I can’t recall it). I understand this was a book more geared toward Mario and his Renaissance appearances as a plumber, doctor, race car driver and the like. But to not mention Goldeneye especially when you focus some quality time on Rare was almost astounding. Goldeneye on the N64 was what got me back into wanting to play video games from the few times I tried rather unsuccessfully to conquer Super Mario Bros on the SNES or the hours I spent trying to get Jumpman to save the Princess in Donkey Kong as a child.

Either way this is a perfect book for any Super Mario lover or someone just interested in gaming history. I certainly learned a lot in the process of reading the book and now look at Mario and even Nintendo in a different light.

I will leave you with credit song from the semi-popular Super Mario Brothers Super Show…are you ready to “Do the Mario?”

Random Fact: The guy playing Mario is a former wrestler Capt. Lou Albano

~Review~ Malled – Caitlin Kelly

Book: Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail

Author: Caitlin Kelly

Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover

Date To Be Published: April 14th, 2011

Source: Uncorrected galley from netgalley.com

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

This was an interesting read about the trials and tribulations of not just one women but many people trying to make it in the dog-eat-dog world of retail during the recession. Caitlin Kelly fed up with the lack of writing gigs coming her way decides to head for the comfort of a job working part-time at The North Face ready for a steady paycheck.

Kelly’s experiences really helped to show just how much we forget all the hard work for very little the people behind the cash wrap go through just to make a paycheck. She talks about crowded storerooms, inadequate lightning, space, equipment and people that happens not only in her store but retail environments everywhere and really makes you feel it, even if you have never experienced it before. All this frustrates her because how are you to create positive shopping environment when you can’t quickly get to the product or so short-staffed you only have a short time to dedicate to the customer.

Kelly also peppers the book with interesting facts covering all aspects in the retail world; from tidbits about working conditions in many stores, discusses the turnover rate compared to pay, frustrations stemming from the recession and many more. Every fact she brings up really helps to bring home the fact that the ones who serve us behind the counter are often giving the short end of the stick, they help make our world go round.

I am only too familiar with the retail world although unlike Kelly I could only handle it for no more than a few weeks. I just hated being just a cog in the machine, the second I clipped on my name tag and strolled through the aisles I just felt my identity slipping away. Kelly first enjoyed it but soon it just started dragging her down. The environments retailers often create are just not one that creates a positive mental vibe. From both my experience and from reading her book I feel like I am more contentious of how I am treating the person behind the cash register or roaming the aisles. Even if for just a brief period I want to help brighten their dull day, most of them I know don’t really want to be there but it is all they can get to help support their families.

This book may not be for anyone but if you want a little expose on the knitty-gritty of the retail world, pick up this book. Kelly presents her frustrations in a way that never feels like she is just a whiney but truly wanting to express her feelings. This book would be great for a business major or anybody interesting in how every piece of a business works especially those who own or manage a place of business. Even though this book shows the dirtier side of working retail it could even be beneficial for a recent high school grade or even their parents.  I can only hope that some sort of lesson can be taken from this book that can help us work on creating a safer, happier and less detached working environment.

~Review~ The Twisted Thread – Charlotte Bacon

Book: The Twisted Thread
Author: Charlotte Bacon
Publisher: Hyperion
Date To Be Published:  June 14th, 2011
Source: Uncorrected galley from netgalley.com
Star Rating: 3 out of 5

Beauty and money can keep you for being murdered, or can it? “The Twisted Thread” takes us on a journey into the darker side of boarding schools where one event turns all those involved in Armitage Schools and the surrounding areas lives upside down. This event is the death of Claire Harkness, the pretty and aloof girl who seemingly was the queen bee of the school and the discovering of the pregnancy she kept hidden from the adults. Why did she go to all this trouble to keep it a secret?

Throughout the story we met an intern at the school, a handful of the teachers, the young cop who came back to his hometown to get away from such horrid crimes, his partner, the Head and an assorted cast of students. All the characters we meet finished strong but started out sort of weak, something I can surmise was more fleshed over in the final drafts of the story.

Bacon’s use of secret societies, the line between having money and no money, privileged v. townie and different view points of her cast of characters created a believable story. She also threw in quite a few red herrings to keep you guessing the final outcome. I had a few inklings it was the person but she masterfully crafted me to turn my eye and start to pin it on another.

“The Twisted Thread” would have received another star if the jumping between character viewpoint and character descriptions didn’t throw me off at first. Although once I got into the grove I liked the different viewpoints which helped move a long the story.

I have already told my 16-year-old sister-in-law to check out this book and I know next time I talked to my sister who is the same age I will mention she should give it read it when it comes out.

This book is good for someone who wants a mystery that isn’t heavy on the thriller or a teen looking for a slightly more adult novel without a lot of gratuitous sex and violence we often see in these novels. I wonderful read, especially for those lazy days on the beach or by the pool if you want something a little heavier than a bodice-ripper.

~Review~ A Convenient Groom – Denise Hunter

I received this book to review from booksneeze.com. This review may contain spoilers, proceed with caution.

Just like in the movie “The Ugly Truth” Kate as her list of goals and what constitutes the perfect man, but all that is shattered five hours before her wedding day when her fiancé calls to say he isn’t coming. This all seems pretty normal, people get stood up. But Kate is a relationship guru and her book all about how to find Mr. Right For You is getting dropped the same day as her wedding and this news could ruin her career. In steps Lucas Wright a furniture maker that rented out Kate her office space and seemingly her polar opposite. Kate thinks he is doing it to get relationship advice for his parents, Lucas is doing because he has loved her since they first met.

This book is a beautifully crafted love story and the second book of Denise Hunter’s  Nantucket Love Story series. The plot may seem a little unreal but that doesn’t mean you are not rooting throughout the whole book for Kate to realize her Mr. Right is standing right in front of her, especially because all her preconceived notions of what love is are so off target. Like Lucas said, “You can’t schedule love”, and she tries.

The many obstacles put in their path from her ex-fiancé wanting her back, their “sham” marriage being revealed on public television by the girl Kate’s ex-fiancé left her for, the rocky and turbulent state of  her parents former marriage and even Lucas’s mom all were beautifully crafted and not done just for shock value.

This book will put a smile on your face one minute and the next have you bawling your eyes out t. I give it 4 out 5 stars.

Still not sure if this book is for you, if you enjoyed Nicholas Sparks “A Walk to Remember” and “A Message in a Bottle”, I believe you would enjoy this book. Even if you didn’t enjoy those books pick up a copy of this book if you are in the need for a great little beach romance read or a little pick-up.

Review: The Mozart Conspiracy ~ Scott Mariani

I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy through Goodreads First Read program.
Goodreads Description

WARNING: Contains SPOILERS

Overall I give this book four stars. It had both its positives and negatives. At the beginning I really did not like all the disjointedness of the stories, they just seemed like there would never be a connection between all these stories. As the story progressed and the evidence began to come to light, I was soon hooked. I had to finish the book.

The most interesting aspect was Mozart being a Freemason and the effect of such on his death. I have always believed through research and many watchings of “Amadeus” that Mozart’s death was suspect but the thought of Freemason involvement never crossed my mind. After reading the book I did some research and there is some sound though behind the composer being a Mason. This little nugget or theory has completely changed my view on his death.

It is the characters and the ending is what Mariani lost a fifth star from me. Some of the characters like Glass and the other baddies just didn’t develop enough in the plot like I usually like them to in books of such nature. The two main women of the book Leigh and Eve, worked but when I first met Eve for some reason I thought she was Leigh, not really sure, she just didn’t seem memorable enough until near the ending.

Ah yes, the ending. Mariani did the cliché “is the love interest really dead?” bit, which is not unusual and often used to drive the actions of the main charactor….but he had to go and kill her back off after we thought Ben and her are all happy. The clichéd “the bad guy isn’t really dead” was used as well, which really ticked me off. Really we could have left it at them being happy and content, finally both settling down. No, Ben is now right back were he started, more or less. So not loving it.

The ending also felt sorted of unfinished, with its official release date of March 22 (and the fact it was officially first published almost 3 years ago), I highly doubt there will be a lot of changes, but I really do not like the ending at all.

~Review~ Race Across Alaska: First Woman To Win The Iditarod Tells Her Story

I decided to read this book in honor of the start of the 2011 Iditarod which started on the 5th of March. It was great to follow Libby as she made her way through the 1000+ mile journey. There were times that even though I knew she was to take 1st place, hope almost seemed bleak. Her descriptions of cold, blowing snow put the chill in me. It was especially interesting to learn about her dogs. My heart broke when she had to live Sister behind. It reminded me of when Mackey had to leave one of his lead dogs in 2008. No musher wants to finish the Trail without their full team.

A note on the Kindle addition is that there was quite a lot of disjointed editing. Random information, although greatly informative was thrown what felt rather haphazardly here and there. I can only assume that in the print version they were more than likely footnotes but when the book was translated into an ebook they were just thrown in. I have not seen a print version of the book to know for sure, but I am certain that was the problem.

I think this book is for any one who has an interest in the Iditarod, history of the Iditarod, Alaskan history, Alaska and strong women role models.

Libby makes a good one, even if she is rather humble about it. In “Race Across Alaska” she says “I had never thought much about being the first woman to win the race. I thought of myself as just a sled dog racer, not a woman sled dog racer. But there was no denying that if my winning encouraged other women not to underestimate themselves, then I was happy to have helped” (223). Just reading those words made me realize how far yet how far we still need to go.

Want more information on Libby Riddles, check out this youtube video of the news report of her 1985 win that this book is based on

Related books I’ve Read:
Fiction: “Murder on the Iditarod Trail” – Sue Henry

Other Related Books:
“One Mush: Jamaica’s Dogsled Team”
“The Lance Mackey Story”
” No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer” – Rachael Scdoris