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!

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Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

February 28, ,2017 – Balzer & Bray

464p – Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

Purpose: Review, #offmybookshelf

Source: Edelweiss, Publisher, Bookshelf

5 stars

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

his is another book that talks about a white police officer shooting a black male. But make no mistake, it is also a book that stands out on its own. You have probably already heard of this book, as it came out and took the world by storm. I am not one that ever feels that a book deserves a bunch of hype, but in this case I can understand it. It is good for so many reasons, but it is not a perfect book. (I have yet to find one that is.)

Starr is at  party in her neighborhood when shots are fired. Her old friend, Khalil is there with her and quickly gets her out and safely away. While heading to her house or her father’s store, they are pulled over by a white officer for  a busted headlight. While Starr is mentally reciting the lessons of how to behave when pulled over by the police, it is apparent that Khalil did not receive those lessons.  As the police is making his way to the car, Starr does ask if there is any drugs in the car. What could have simply been a routine stop quickly escalates into a homicide. This is due to both Khalil’s mouthiness and the officer’s fear/prejudice/choice.

**With the rising number of shootings, people -black people in particular- have been having conversations with their kids about what to do when you are pulled over by the police? Is it necessary? If you have taught your kids to be respectful of authority then no it’s not. Because, regardless of your opinion of the police or your socio-economic circumstance the police are in a position of authority. EVEN IF YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. I have been pulled over before and was told that I resembled a suspect that the police were looking for. No I didn’t believe them, but I was still respectful. Sometimes, it’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing.**

Starr then struggles with how to reconcile what has happened, with the way the world reacts and how the police handle the situation. It’s murder to Starr and every other black person that was not there that night. But the police do not see it as such. This brings up a lot of emotions, one that just didn’t make much sense to me. She felt that by being with Chris, she was somehow betraying Khalil. After a year of dating, you’re just not realizing that your boyfriend is white and now you think you’re betraying your race? In reality, all of these feelings would have come up at the beginning of their relationships and not now, and they would have been resolved  by this point. Especially with Big Mav as a dad. So, I’m calling flag on the field.

**I am with a white man, I have two biracial babies. My dad always had something about white people. I did not go to a school that was dominantly white, but I was constantly the only black person around.  And before anyone thinks that you only date white guys cause that’s all you’re around, bull. It’s a choice to date outside of your race-regardless of what your race is. It doesn’t happen by accident, so you can’t wake up one day and realize dude my boyfriend’s white. Yes, there are some things that make the differences in race more apparent.  But I’m calling foul on Starr’s sudden realization. **

As Starr deals with the loss of Khalil and with what the news is reporting about him, she is learnign that there is more to him than even she knew about. And she has to come to terms to that. At the same time the communities around her are reacting. Either by trying to figure how to deal with the anger and the hurt that they feel or by trying to get justice in a situation that is all too familiar to them.

This is bringing to light so many things for Starr, not just with her community, but with her family and her fellow classmates. She is learning so much,  she is learning to use her voice but most importantly, she is joining the conversation.

This book is powerful, not just because of the content of its pages. It is joining the conversation. It is lifting back the covers and giving the world an inside peek at how things really are -as much as  a work of fiction can. The Hate U Give acts as a window into Starr’s story that is at once all to familiar and completely foreign-depending on a reader’s own experiences.  Thomas does an amazing job in creating characters that are real and emotionally authentic.  She has taken a situation that is in itself already complex and controversial and pulled back to give 360• view of it. There’s surprises. there’s humor and there’s truth. Truth about the pain, the anger and the feeling of being lost in your own world.

 

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!

 

Review: Love Story By Karen Kingsbury

Love Story (The Baxter Family, #1)

Love Story by Karen Kingsbury 

The Baxter Family #1

June 6, 2017 – Howard Books

345 pages – Contemporary, Romance, Fiction, Inspirational

Source: Publicist

Purpose: Review

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

Oh man, why did I wait so long to pick this up? I was contacted a long time ago about reviewing this title. And it being one of Kingsbury’s titles, I immediately said yes. I really love Kingsbury, and do plan on catching up with all of her backlist titles that I have yet to read. But, she is one of those authors that you forget how much you enjoy until you pick up her books. Or at least I do. When I do -finally- pick it up, I am never disappointed.  This goes back and tells the love story of John and  Elizabeth Baxter, the beginning of the Baxter family. So if you  have not read any of the other titles this is a good place to start, though there are references to previous events and characters from other stories, it is a story that can stand on its own.

There are three stories going on in this book. John is going down memory lane, for his grandson’s (Cole) heritage project, and reliving the heartwarming and aching story of is love story with his first wife, Elizabeth. Ashley is forced to confront her own past and rocky love history when her son, Cole, asks to know the story about his dad.  Cole knows that the man that has raised him all of these years is not his biological dad, and Ashley assumes Cole is asking for a story that she is not ready to tell.  Finally, Cody must admit that he has lost the one and only love of his life when he let Andi break off their second engagement and walk out of his life.

Each story requires each person to confront the mistakes that they made, relive the moments where love and God’s grace changed things for them. It is a sweet story, not just about the romance between couples. In each story, each memory that is shared, you can see how God is courting each person with all of their failings and flaws. It is beautiful as well as heartbreaking. The ebb and flow graceful dance between God and the people that He loves in classic Kingsbury style.

 

What You Should Know: 

-This is the first in a new trilogy set in the Baxter Family saga

-The Baxter Family saga consists of 20+ books broken up into multiple trilogies and quartets.

-I have not read any of the Baxter books, but I have read quite a few of Kingsbury’s other titles.

-This book is worth purchasing, unless you are the type that has to have a series in all of its entirety. In which case I recommend borrowing from the library first to see if its for you, since this is such a long running series.

 

4 Stars 

Always Shine!

 

Book Chat: Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko

Scion of the Fox (The Realms of Ancient, #1)

Scion of the Fox by S.M.Beiko 

Realms of the Ancient #1

October 17, 2017 – ECW Press

Source: Publisher

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

Rating: Unrated

If you would like to know what this book is about, you can click here for a Goodreads Summary.

I was contacted by the publisher to be a part of the blog tour, and I happily accepted expecting to love this book. I didn’t finish the book in time to post my full review, so I thought that I would take the time to talk about the book.

I have to admit that it’s not a completely original story. A girl discovers that she is part of  a secret world that she didn’t know anything about. She is miraculously healed and she is the key to saving the world.

I didn’t finish it, but I can say that it was well written, and interesting (even if it was a bit cliche). Since I didn’t finish it in time, this is a book that I will come back and read at a normal pace instead of trying to rush through it. I liked Roan, she didn’t just blindly jump into the savior of earth role, she was realistic about the expectation and the daily reality that she would have to face. Granted, she accepted things a bit too easily.

Will I come back to this? Yes

Would I recommend it for other people to check out? Yes

Always Shine!