DNF Review: Upgrade by Rana Florida

Upgrade: Taking Your Work and Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary

Upgrade by Rana Florida 

Taking Your Work and Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary

September 4, 2013 – McGraw-Hill Education

256 pages -Nonfiction, Adult, Self-Help

Purpose: Review

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Sometimes you come across a book that you read at the completely right time in your life, making you enjoy it more than you may have at any other time in your life. And sometimes just the opposite happens, you read a good book at the wrong time and you don’t get out of it what you could have. And I think that the latter is what happened with this book. Had I read it when I was first approved for this title, I may have taken everything that was offered in this book and ran with it. Instead, there wasn’t enough her to hold my attention.

To be fair, I didn’t make it very far into this book. I didn’t finish the first chapter, had it been available on audio, I may have continued. I enjoyed what I did read from the first chapter. I did get some things out of it, in fact I had a conversation with a friend about how I felt inspired. But, then it kept going. I think the first chapter had 54 pages in it and I was done after around page 30. It just went past the point where I felt it made sense.  I was interested in the rest of the book, but not enough to power through, especially if it was filled with extra long chapters that just kept hammering home the point. Maybe I am wrong and there is more to it than that.  But I didn’t stick around to find out.



Always Shine!


DNF Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q, #1)

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Department Q #1

August 23, 2011 – Dutton Adult

395 p. -Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Political

Source: Netgalley, Publisher

Purpose: Review

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Full disclosure: this is one of the very old titles that I just hadn’t read or reviewed.  I am slowly working through my backlog of titles, hoping to catch up in the next century. Because it is so old, I no longer have the downloaded galley and I ended up checking out the audio-book from my library. So, I can’t say if I would have a different opinion if I had read it myself instead of listening to it.

My Thoughts:

I am not sure what I was expecting with this novel. I guess I was thinking it would be more about the investigating of cold cases, but that’s not what I got. At least not in the first 30% of it. I found this slow and hard to get into. The time jumps, as well as the character jumps made it more confusing than it needed to be.  I didn’t like the main character.  It appeared that he was kind of waiting around until he was fired, but he didn’t really want to be fired. I think he came back to work too soon. He didn’t seem to be interested in working, let alone actually investigating or solving a case. The final thing that really turned me off of this book was the politics.

I don’t know maybe this book would be better if read in print or digitally instead of listening to it. I am pretty good at not judging a book by the narrator though, let me know if you’ve read this and think I should give it a second chance.



Always Shine!


Supplemental Material Review: Explanatorium of Nature by DK Smithsonian

Explanatorium of Nature

Explanatorium of Nature by DK Smithsonian 

October 3, 2017 – DK Publishing

360 p. – Nonfiction, Reference, Children’s

Source: Netgalley, Publisher

Purpose: Review

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Some of you  may be wondering why you occasionally see reviews for supplemental materials on this blog. Initially, it was because I worked at an afterschool program and was on the lookout for anything (and everything) that would help my kids.  Now, I am not longer with the program, but I am homeschooling my child, so I am on the lookout that would benefit him or any other homeschooling families.

The first thing that caught my eye is the cover. It’s a reflective silver with an iguana on it, as it was crawling out. The cover reminds me of a vault.  Inside the pictures are bright, detailed and organized to keep the eye flowing and engaged.

The information and writing is easy to follow along with and to understand. It’s organized so that there aren’t paragraphs and paragraphs of information to absorb. it’s a couple of paragraphs (at the most) and then a couple of sentences to go along with pictures.

This is perfect for elementary age children for exposure and to begin the learning process, but I would also say that it would make a good reference material for middle school students, if they need a refresher or a place to start before going deeper.

But, for the preschoolers (my son’s current level), I would still use it and keep it on hand. While they may not be able to read, they are able to use the pictures to identify the various animals and plants with the detailed pictures. When my son saw this, he immediately flipped through it identifying the animals that he already knew and learning a few that he didn’t.

I am definitely very happy to have been given a copy of this for review, and I will be adding more from this publisher to our collection.

Here’s an inside look:

5 stars

What You Should Know: 

This is a great place to start when learning about nature, but should not be the only place you go to.

The information within is brief, more of an overview, but not all-encompassing.

I would recommend this for homeschooling families, but also to parents who have kids curious about nature,

My favorite part is the classification page.

Always Shine!


My Addiction: Netgalley

(This will probably become a routine feature.)

You guys I have a problem, I like books. I like free books even more. So this year my main focus is to read my own books, both in the print and digital formats. To assist in this I have been added my digital titles to their respective shelves on Goodreads, as a way to have a visual representation. Upon doing this I have discovered that I have an obscene amount of digital books. So many that I am overwhelmed with deciding how to pick books to read This is what I decided (and we will see how it works.) I’m just going to start from the top of the list and read down. Now, I will pause on books that are like the third or fourth of the series to catch up, so in that case titles might be rearranged.  But, to help me track my progress and for some accountability, I am going to make TBRs. But these are not monthly, they will be ten books that I will read and review (if they are Netgalley titles) as quickly as I can. I will be deleting all titles off of my kindle except for the ten titles (unless I am catching up). I will do a separate post for my personal kindle library books later. But here is the first 10 of my Netgalley TBR:

Souldwood Series by Faith Hunter-  I have the first three books in this series, and they are all review books. I have already started the first one so that should make this first round a bit easier.

Blood of the Earth (Soulwood, #1) Curse on the Land (Soulwood, #2) Flame in the Dark (Soulwood, #3)

Things you should know about this series: It is set in the same world as the Jane Yellowrock novels. I have not read those novels. This series actually begins with an anthology of stories from that world, Blood in Her Veins: Nineteen Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock that I have also not read. I will be going back to read Jane Yellowrock and will read the anthology in order of that series.

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)           Andrew Jackson: The Making of America          Boy Bites Bug          Nothing Happened


Smoke Eaters         Oath of Honor (Blue Justice #1)    Troubled Waters (Montana Rescue #4)

What you should know about these books: If you click on the pictures you can read the Goodreads summary. If you do that, you will see that three of these books are part of a series, one is the beginning and the other two are titles in the middle of series.  I will be focusing on the series that I don’t have to catch up on after I finish the three Soulwood novels (which I am enjoying so far).

*I should also note that books that I dnf, or find difficult to get through will not be given second chances in any way that matters. Meaning I will write a dnf review and move on to the next book.*

So am I alone in this Netgalley addiction? I am trying to work on it and not just have the record of most accumulated unread books, promise. Tell me about in the comments?

Have you read any of these titles (or authors)? Tell me about in the comments.

Want to Netgalley/TBR shame me? Well if I cared that much, it wouldn’t be this ridiculously out of control.


Look for my Personal Library TBR soon(ish)!


Always Shine!



First Impressions: The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne

The Paradise Prophecy

The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne 

July 21, 2011 – Dutton

Purpose: Review

Source: Netgalley

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.


This is about the war in heaven continuing on Earth. It sounded really good when I read the synopsis. When I finally started reading the book though, I knew that I wasn’t going to finish it. Within the first twenty pages there were two sexual encounters for no apparent purpose. It was awkward and pulled me out of the story.  I have no problem with sexy times in a story, but if it’s not a romance then there should be a reason why it’s there. It should fit into the story and not ” Oh I don’t know what else to write so I’ll throw in a sex scene!” Maybe there was more to this story, but I lost interest in finding out.

Always Shine!

Featured Book Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

Featured Book of the Month: Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

August 8, 2017 – Amulet Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

 5 stars

Goodreads Summary

I was given a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Genie Lo is your typical seventeen-year high school student. She studies extremely hard and is doing everything that she can to ensure that she can go to a top-tier school and get herself out of the Bay area. Then she meets, Quentin, a very strange new student who has set his eyes on her.  And the multitudes of demons that are trying to overtake her town. Quentin than begins to clue her in that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Okay, so the premise of a teen suddenly discovering that they have powers and are expected to become the savior of the world is not all that original. Do not let that deter you. Because this book is so much more than that. This book had me laughing out loud while reading this. Even if I was in public. Genie Lo is, by far, one of my favorite characters this year.  Her biting humor pulled me into her orbit, making me wish that she was a real person. Then there is Quentin, the monkey king has returned to Earth because of the increase of demon activity in the Bay Area and because he recognizes Genie Lo’s aura. This story is steeped in Chinese folklore and culture. Sometimes discussing the culture, or the stereotypes of the culture with humor.  Genie Lo bumbles around destroying demons as she re-discovers her powers. Quentin is awkward initially, but we soon see it’s just a ruse.  Genie’s interactions with Quentin were hilarious and warm, like joking around with a long -time friend. He’s an awful teacher, but a pretty decent friend. Even if he is a bit stalker-ish and creepy at times. It’s okay because it’s Quentin, and as you get to know him, this explanation makes sense.

In this story, the side characters had their own distinct personalities and added their own bits of humor.  They flow in and out of the story the same way that they flow in and out of Genie’s life. But they are no less important. They make this book, Genie’s purpose, a little more grounded.

This is one of the few books that impressed me and made me want to read it over immediately.  I wish that I had so many copies of this books so that I can hand it out to everyone I encounter. I am looking forward to this release so that I can add it to my own collection.

Since this is August’s featured book, there will be other posts inspired by and related to Genie Lo. So stay tuned for those.

Always Shine!