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review 2016-03-12 19:06
I Will Get a Lot of Stick For This But...: "Shapes, Scenes and Strokes: Book Reviews 2015" by Myselfie
Shapes, Scenes and Strokes: Book Reviews 2015 - Manuel Augusto Antão
Over the last years, several people asked me whether I'd consider publishing a collection of my posts. Until 2015 I couldn't be bothered. Then someone offered to help me putting them out (I'm not at liberty to tell you who).
I've always wanted to collect my writing stuff. And to do that I always thought "Timelessness" had to be a factor, i.e., the essays had to be timeless. The last thing I would want to get is an essay book on the state of world peace...The essays needed to be written from an historical perspective as well, with the frame of reference being “...Book Reviews 2013, 2014, 20150,…” not “Last year,….
Two books I love are collections of essays by Umberto Eco ("How to travel with a Salmon") and John Clute ("Scores"). Both without much fanciness, but I don’t regret a dime buying them. If you like this kind of stuff, this collection of diatribes might be for you, otherwise stay well clear.
When I was thinking about publishing this 3rd book of my posts I asked myself why should I publish a book with my stuff in the first place. I mean, what is the advantage of having a book (and paying for it) over simply parsing through a list of posts and links (that my supposedly readers probably already know) online?
(On the cover of the book, Tram 28 which is a highlight of any visit to Lisbon-Not-In-Maine, my hometown ...).
I'd like to dedicate this collection to all the wonderful people I have met on Booklikes: Themis-Athena's Garden of Books, Troy's Blog, Bookstooge's Reviews On the Road, Char's Horror Corner, Reclusive Reads, BrokenTune, Bookaneer, RedTHaws Reads Randoml, The English Student, Book Reviews Forevermore, Awogfli - Bookcroc, Debbie's Spurts, Url Phantomhive, Murder by Death, Rachel the Book Harlot, The Mental Hoard of Bettie's Books, Lornographic Material, From Dark Places, The Grand World of Books, Thewanderingjew, 99 problems and a book ain't one, Lora's Rants and Reviews, To Read Is to Fly, I cannot live without books, Leopard, It's a Mad Mad World, It's a Hardback Life, Spare Ammo, WRGingell, Jessica's Book Thoughts, Constantly Moving the Bookmark, A Reading Life, ѦѺ, spocksbro, Lunaluss --- Because Books Lead you to Many Roads, Chris' Fish Place, Gregor Xane, Demoniacally Reading, Grimlock, Oldham Rocker's Mad Mumblings, Buchsalon, Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog, Sarah's Library, The Boat Was My Friend, SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady, nospin, Gurglings of a Putrid Stream, BOOKWRAITHS REVIEWS, Dantastic Book Reviews and many others. It's really been fun.
If you can be bothered to read why I think rehashing my own stuff is a good idea, read on.
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review 2015-12-23 19:26
The Walking Dead: Invasion - A Review

THE WALKING DEAD: INVASION by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

When we last left our group of Woodbury survivors in “Descent” they had just moved everyone left after the governor’s rampage underground.  They made the ancient tunnels and mine shafts habitable and safe.  However, they knew they could not stay down there forever because living underground was taking it’s toll on the senior citizens and children in Lilly Caul’s group.  Lily wants Woodbury back but it is still infested with the herd of walkers that drove them underground in the first place.
Deep in the “hinterlands” Reverend Gerlitz is very busy rebuilding his group of followers and he has come up with a diabolical new weapon to take revenge on not only the walkers roaming about but on Lilly and her group as well.
Which group will come up victorious is this (reputedly) final confrontation.
I had this audio book on hold at the library and it became available shortly after the “Walking Dead” midseason finale aired, so I could continue to get my “walker fix” for a little while longer.  Although not the best book in the series I did enjoy this installment in the series and I think any fan of the television show would enjoy the books as well.  Of course, there is no shortage of “gruesome” in these books and I think the only authors who can match George R.R. Martin for his ruthlessness in killing off favorite characters is the team of Kirkman and Bonansinga.  What else can I say about this book?  I enjoyed it and it is what it is … a book about a zombie apocalypse … that for some strange reason I find entertaining.
If you have read the other books and are a fan of the series then I highly recommend these books.  Although there is some overlap between these books and the television series you won’t hear too many familiar names.  If you are thinking about reading the books I would highly suggest starting with “The Road to Woodbury”. 
ROBERT KIRKMAN (from www.thewalkingdead.com)
In addition to his work as a writer and executive producer on The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman is also a successful creator of independent comics. Kirkman created and continues to write the long-running Image Comics title The Walking Dead, on which the show is based, and the comics have been gaining popularity throughout its run. He also writes the acclaimed and equally long-running super-hero comic Invincible, which he created with Cory Walker, and the all-ages comic Super Dinosaur, which he created with Jason Howard.
THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE says, “Jay Bonansinga has quickly and firmly established himself as one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers. His twisting narratives, with their in-your-face glimpses of violence, are set in an unstable, almost psychotic universe that makes the work of many of his contemporaries look rather tame.”
Jay also proudly wears the hat of indie filmmaker: his music videos have been seen on The Nashville Network and Public Television, and his short film CITY OF MEN was awarded the prestigious silver plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival. The holder of a master’s degree in film from Columbia College Chicago, Jay currently resides in Evanston, Illinois. He is also a visiting professor at Northwestern University in their Creative Writing for the Media program, as well as the Graduate Writing Program at DePaul University.
ABOUT THE NARRATOR (www.fredberman.net)
Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney's long-running hit The Lion King. A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audio books, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman's audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert.
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review 2015-11-30 19:15
Merry Mary - A Review

MERRY MARY by Ashley Farley

After having one miscarriage and one stillbirth Scottie Darden is throwing herself into her work to stave off the emptiness she feels from the empty nursery at home.  Working on “Lost Souls”, a photo project featuring homeless people – she hopes it will help establish her career as a photojournalist – she is offering some hot food and coffee to her homeless photo subjects when she discovers a young girl dead in her tent.  In her arms lies a crying baby girl.  As soon as Scottie announces the death, screaming for help, the small group of vagrants quickly disperses.  With no one around and her cell phone charging at home Scottie has a decision to make … wait until someone shows up or take the little girl home with her to a warm home, a bath, a clean diaper and some formula.  She decides her home is the best place.  A decision that will be hard to undo as it doesn’t take her long to fall in love with the baby.
What will happen when an autopsy shows the young woman had recently given birth and was breastfeeding yet there is no baby to be found?
I was hoping for a heartwarming Christmas story as I started reading this book.  There were moments that did tug at the heartstrings but in my opinion this novella could have been so much more.  Despite her heart of gold when it came to Mary (the baby) I really did not like Scottie.  She seemed very spoiled and self-centered.  Her mooch of a husband does a disappearing act halfway through the story, her parents are supportive yet seem slightly aloof and her brother is a hard drinking womanizer who, admittedly, does step up when he’s needed but only as last resort.
The story itself seemed a little far-fetched.  As the characters were having one stressful moment after the next trying to figure out what to do with the baby I was thinking of any number of reasonable solutions.  Of course, that would have made it a 5-page short story.
There was also a little bit of confusion for me as the reader.  At several points near the beginning of the story it looked as if it were going to take a slightly religious path (okay, since it is a Christmas story) then for the second half of the book the whole theme was totally forgotten and never mentioned again.
I’m going to give this one 3 bookish Christmas Trees.  It was well written and it had a good premise.  I guess it was not quite what I was expecting (my fault for having pre-conceived expectations).  Still, it is a sweet holiday idea.
* I received this book at no charge from the publisher, CrushStar MuliMedia LLC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
If only I had another minute, another hour, another day. There never seems to be enough time to accomplish all that’s on my mind.
I am an indie author, amateur photographer, and mother of two college-aged kids who bring me much joy but are turning my hair gray. My contemporary women’s novel Her Sister’s Shoes, June 2015, is the story of three middle-aged sisters that proves the healing power of family. My debut novel Saving Ben, January 2012, is a tribute to my brother—the boy I worshipped, the man I could not save.
I experienced the fragility of life when my brother Neal died of an accidental drug overdose in 1999, at the age of 37. He touched the lives of many with his wonderful sense of humor, his infectious laugh, and his tortured soul.
I learned a lot during the many years my family suffered the fallout of my brother’s addictions. After Neal’s death, I wanted to share those experiences. I wanted to tell anyone willing to listen how substance abuse and mental illness destroys families. I wanted to counsel groups of students about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. But every time I tried to talk to others about Neal, my voice shook and my eyes filled with tears. So I let the experts do the talking. I chaired education committees at my son’s school to promote alcohol and drug awareness to parents. And I helped to organize a series of leadership symposia where we brought in world-renowned speakers to empower students to become better leaders through honor and integrity and character.
But none of my efforts were enough to fill the hole in my heart created by my brother’s death. So I turned to writing. Saving Ben is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.
I grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but I have lived in Richmond, Virginia, a city I love for its history and traditions, for most of my adult life. I love to travel, garden, and when I’m in the mood, I like to try out new recipes.
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review 2015-11-29 16:00
The Masked Truth - A Review

THE MASKED TRUTH by Kelley Armstrong

As Riley Vasquez was babysitting one evening, upstairs entertaining the little one so the parents could leave the house without the crying scene, masked intruders broke in.  Riley, hid under the bed as shots were fired downstairs, discovering later that the little girl’s parents had been killed.  Despite the fact that by hiding she undoubtedly saved the child’s life Riley suffered survivor’s guilt.  Her therapist suggested an overnight therapy group may help her open up about what happened in order to deal with her trauma more effectively.  Things did not quite happen that way.  Just as everyone was arriving for the “therapy weekend” masked intruders broke into the facility holding all the patients and the two counselors hostage.  That is until the shooting started.  Riley has only herself and Max Cross to depend on to get them out of there.  Unfortunately, Max is schizophrenic and has a hard time discerning what’s real and what’s imaginary.
This YA novel is a step away from Ms. Armstrong’s usual paranormal fare.  It was a well-written book that kept me turning the pages.  Yes, a little reality suspension was necessary.  Yes, the characters were a little cliché – the strong (thinks she’s not) heroine, the flawed hero, misbelieving parents and bad guys that were a little over the top.  Some of the action was a little repetitive as well, but the book certainly gave you action.  I’m rating this one three stars.  Being a constant reader of Ms. Armstrong’s books, including most of her YA books, this story felt like a bit of a rehash of “The Darkest Powers” trilogy without the paranormal edge … teenagers running from the bad adults, hiding, running and finally having to deal with everything one their own.
It was still a good read just, in my opinion, not one of the most original of her books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. My earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, mine would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to my teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make me produce “normal” stories failed. Today, I continue to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in my basement writing dungeon.
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review 2015-11-25 13:53
Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off - A Review

This seemed like a good book to review after hitting "publish" on my Christmas Baking Post - just to remind myself why those cookies should get put in the freezer ASAP!

STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF by Lisa Tillinger Johnasen, MS, RD
Who hasn’t been on a diet?  As Ms. Tillinger-Johansen states in this book it is probably easier to count who has not been on a diet than tally those who have.  The word “diet” itself does not denote the desire to lose weight – diet simply refers to what we eat and drink every day.  A specialized eating plan can be made up to help attain certain goals achieved through what we eat – a healthier lifestyle, prevention of diabetes or high blood pressure and, yes, weight loss.
I have been a TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group leader for a number of years and I enjoy my group but sometimes I find it difficult to come up with an interesting meeting topic to discuss each week; a topic that will not only be interesting for my members but that will also keep them (and me) motivated until next week’s trip to the scale.  I requested this book hoping it would give me some ideas.  Well, if you are looking for a common sense, easy to read, packed full of information and often amusing book about dieting this is certainly one to pick up.  Having read through this book I feel quite certain there is not one aspect of sensibly eating (diet, if you must) that this book does not touch upon.  Ms. Tillinger-Johansen includes obesity statistics from other counties (staggering!), she discusses fact versus fiction when it comes to dieting and touches on the plethora of diets out there (many some of which can do more harm than good both for your health and your waistline).  There is even a diet that promotes eating baby food … I’m pretty sure I didn’t even want to eat baby food when I was a baby!
What would a diet book be without discussing the evils of distorted body image brought on by Hollywood, advertising, beauty pageants and even Dr. Oz.  Personally, don’t even get me started on him.
All the important subjects are covered including protein, starches, fibre, WATER, fats, fruits and vegetables, vitamins and portion size.  Have a question about their importance and the answer can be found in this book.
On the back cover of this book it states “We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry.  But do these diets really work?  And how healthy are they?”  If you want to get off that merry-go-round and start eating for your health this book is an excellent resource on how to do that … and most importantly … it does that without being preachy or weighing you down (pun totally intended) with guilt.
I still find this book, packed full of solid information, an excellent resource to us for my TOPS group. 
* I received this book at no charge from the author via WordSlinger
 in exchange for an honest review *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
Lisa Tillinger Johansen is a registered dietician who counsels clients on a wide range of health issues.  Her debut nutrition book, “Fast Food Vindication”, received the Discovery Award (sponsored by USA Today, The Huffington Post and Kirkus).
She lives in Southern California.

From her website www.stopthediet.com


Lisa helps her patients clients find a realistic plan that works for them. In this fast-paced world, it isn’t always easy to prepare home-cooked meals. Lisa helps her clients devise nutrition strategies for eating on the go, whether at sit-down restaurants or even fast-food establishments.


Now, through this website, fastfoodvindication.com and consultthedietitan.com, Lisa answers nutritional questions, gives helpful tips, and creates exclusive videos designed to promote a fun and more healthy lifestyle.
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