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review 2017-09-03 15:49
Skimmable read but ultimately a disappointment.
Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey... Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living - Ramie Liddle,Tim Bauerschmidt

Perhaps you may have heard of a social media sensation of Miss Norma: 90+ year old woman lost her husband and was diagnosed with cancer at around the same time. When faced with the prospect of surgery, chemotherapy and months of recovery (if she survived the treatments), Miss Norma decided to hit the road with her son and daughter-in-law and make the most of her time left. This is the story of her journey and the of the two people who accompanied her (as well as some of the people they met along the way).


Basically this is a retelling of the story told on social media and the like. You may have seen pictures of Miss Norma in some interesting activity: horseback riding, at some well-known monument, etc. It might not seem very interesting to a lot of people who may have done the same on vacation or what not, but it was a chance for Miss Norma to do what she could not while married and raising two children, one of whom (Tim) is along for this ride.


Overall it was interesting to get some of the details fleshed out and to see her story in book form but the book really lacked the charm of following her in "real" (give or take) time via online postings. It alternates between the POVs of Tim and Ramie (his wife and Norma's DiL) which is a bit frustrating (I really dislike that device). Neither Tim nor Ramie are particularly interesting in themselves so I wasn't too into reading their backgrounds (although Tim at least helps give more info on how he and his wife end up doing this trip with his mother and the information about the family might help the reader understand the story more).


Overall it felt like a missed opportunity. I wished there had been pictures throughout the tale instead of in the middle (like, a coffee book with full page or at least larger color photos would have been a really fantastic idea). There is actually quite a lot to think about: some people don't like Ramie and Tim for their approach, how they talk about themselves, etc. Something perhaps not quite addressed is that although the two made the choice not to have a family and to be frugal so they could undertake something like this (they had previously been somewhat nomadic before this trip) life eventually caught up with them and they ended up caring for a parent that many people are facing or will face in the future. While it appears Norma mostly had support for making this choice there are many who wouldn't want a parent to undertake a journey like this. And so forth.


It was perhaps not within the authors' aims to address those, but this somewhat felt like the were cashing in on a social media sensation that is finished when there was a fantastic chance to address other aspects to Miss Norma's choices and final journey.


It was an interesting read but I'm glad I waited for the library and didn't buy it. If you followed Miss Norma and want to learn about the trip then this wasn't terrible but don't expect it to be as fun or enjoyable.

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review 2017-07-10 01:00
Some Thoughts: Driving Heat
Driving Heat - Richard Castle

Driving Heat
by Richard Castle
Book 7 of Nikki Heat



Richard Castle, New York Times mega-bestselling mystery writer and star of ABC's hit primetime show Castle is back.  In the seventh novel of his popular Nikki Heat series, the NYPD's top homicide detective has been promoted to captain just in time to face a thrilling case with a very personal twist.  Captain Heat's fiancé, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jameson Rook, is deep in an investigation. Professionally for Heat, Rook's meddling in the case compromises her new job.  Privately, it becomes an early test of their engagement when Rook becomes a distraction at best, and an obstacle at worst, as their parallel lives not only cross, but collide.

One of the things that bugged me the most about these Nikki Heat books has always been the summary blurbs--they always try so hard to be exclamation point, and "Big Awesome Words!" worthy, that it just sounds super lame.  If the ghost writers for Richard Castle put as much effort into the actual crime thriller story outline and plot as they did being meta about the television series, or making the book out to be like it was written by "New York Times Bestselling Author," the books might be more than just serviceably enjoyable.

Well, make it two things:  I also don't like how over-the-top the writing styles sometimes get.  Too deliberate in making out the main character, Nikki Heat, to seem like a super perfect super detective, and too deliberate in singling her out as the only super perfect super detective who ever does anything right.  It can get annoying pretty quickly.

Driving Heat is another installment of the Nikki Heat series that is decently entertaining, but can get a bit tedious in how long it takes to outline a scene, or a few actions that should ideally only require a few words.  It also doesn't help that I found the characters and their actions all frustrating, as if everyone was deliberately being difficult to each other just to piss each other off.  It made for a lot of unnecessary drama that almost felt childish.

I will give the book props on the insights of Nikki's new development in how much more complicated it is to be promoted to a higher position of power than one would have thought.  Becoming Captain of the precinct brought to light all the banal, menial work that a leader also has to deal with, like little complaints from all the staff, and mountains of paperwork, tedious meetings, signing service contracts with the vending machine company, and very little time for actual crime fighting.  It makes me wonder if Nikki understands how different her role will be now that she's not simply in charge of a small homicide detective squad--it DID get me frustrated each time she would rush off to investigate the murder when what she really needed to be doing was delegating tasks to her team, rather than trying to do everything by herself.

The beginning of the book was not a strong start, and the build up was also a bit lackluster.  The second half of the book, after the entire NYPD's computer network got hacked, was actually a bit more interesting, but only because it does a pretty good job of putting into perspective how much we, as a society, depend on computer technology and the ease of access thanks to internet resources.

I actually found it pretty amusing to see Captain Heat rushing off to the library for some of her sources.

HOWEVER, what didn't make sense to me was why everyone made it seem like they were transported back into the pre-internet age when really only the functioning government organizations had been hacked in New York.  Apparently all personal cell phones, personal internet, non-government computers were still workable.  While understanding that crucial, confidential police investigation evidence and documents couldn't be sent via non-encrypted channels, it seemed a bit extreme that none of our homicide detectives had their own personal laptops or hot spots of which to conduct some of their online researches.

Sure, there was no accessing police network documents, but did Nikki really have to rush off to the library to research some of the information she needed to find?

Anyway, as I'd stated somewhere, this book actually felt like it was a lot longer than it really is.  It even felt like there were more than one story line taking place as the book progressed.  And to be honest, without having much interest in watching anymore of the television series, I don't know if I'll be interested in continuing this book series either.  Driving Heat is entertaining in some aspects, and if you're a fan of the series (television or book), then it will still be right up your alley.

There are continued, and fleeting meta references to the television show, Castle, and even a drop about Firefly and Nathan Fillion every so often.  But if you've grown tired of these things and find them more wearisome than amusing... well, this book won't really do much for you.




Roll #25:
This book is tagged 'thriller' on GR.

Page Count:  336
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $153.00













Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/some-thoughts-driving-heat.html
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review 2017-02-15 03:15
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! - Mo Willems

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems is a funny, creative, easy read, children's book. When a bus driver takes a break, a pigeon wants to volunteer to drive the bus. Throughout this book, he begs his way to drive the bus, and children love this, because they can answer back and decide the pigeons fate. This helps children notice when to say no. I would teach this lesson on bus drill day and I would read this to kindergarten.


 Lexile Level: 120L

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review 2016-11-01 17:36
Struggling writer drives a school bus and learns a lot.
Precious Cargo: My Year of Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 - Craig Davidson

That is the basic gist of the book. Davidson woke up one morning, desperately needing a job as his writing career remained stalled and he did not know what he should be doing with his life. That day he finds a flyer in his mailbox to drive school buses. He had zero experience but after a failed interview to be a lunch room supervisor at a school cafeteria, Davidson was desperate.


What follows is a memoir of Davidson's time as a school bus driver and driving his charges to and from school just about every day. He relates a bit of their lives, their trials and tribulations, stresses and developments as he and they both ride their route every school day. His bus is one for students with special needs, and Davidson reflects on not knowing much about this before driving the bus.


There are bits and pieces that are quite good and interesting, but the book is too long. Apparently it was an expansion of a magazine article (that I have not read), which is always a problem. Some topics/experiences really only need to remain as a magazine long-read article or post and this is a case where I'm not sure if there was enough material for a book of this length.


As some others note, the book gets repetitive (it's about a writer who drives a bus of kids to school during the school year so that was probably unavoidable). Sometimes the book focuses a little too much about him. I'm not familiar with his previous work and did not have a lot of experience or interaction with students with special needs when I was in school, like Davidson. But there were times when the text was a little too much about him, such as when he stepped out to defend his students from various bullies. Perhaps he was justified and perhaps his passengers appreciated it. But sometimes it felt like he inserted himself into the text too much.


I had been really looking forward to the book but in retrospect I'd probably have sought out the article instead. Borrow from the library but I wouldn't rush out to read it.

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review 2016-09-16 18:35
Faultlines - Barbara Taylor Sissel

By:  Barbara Taylor Sissel 

ISBN: 9781503938915

Publisher: Lake Union 

Publication Date: 9/6/2016 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 4 Stars


A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Nice Cover!

Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers an emotional, gripping domestic suspense, FAULTLINES –how hidden fault lines and secrets threaten families.

From teens to parents—betrayal, guilt, trust, blame, forgiveness.A character-driven tale of how the secrets we hold closest, are the ones that can most tear us apart.

A heartfelt, moving and cautionary tale, of the lasting effects of grief and betrayal amidst family bonds—and the healing powers of love, honesty, and acceptance.

Fault lines among relationships are potentially disruptive boundaries between what people perceive as incompatible or irreconcilable differences. What makes a previously harmonious relationship quake?

Told from two POV, two women, Sandy and Libby. Two women which may not have anything in common. However, they may be similar in many ways.

Sisters, Sandy and Jenna are close. However, one of their sons causes the death of another. A car accident. Drunk driving. There is a secret. How will they ever go back?

Jenna swore to keep Sandy’s secret many years ago. A sister’s bond. However, something happens and she spills the secret. Broken trust. Desperation. Choices. A marriage in trouble. Pain. Consequences. Forgiveness.

Teenagers in a drunk driving accident. Who is to blame? Families torn apart. A son, nephew, brother and friend.

Lives and families are tested in many ways, from friendships, parenting, marriages, sisters, wives and husbands. A sympathetic exploration of family, where the characters each grapple with life's challenges. The author renders each of them with compassion and understanding!

Heartfelt, heartbreaking, and ultimately an uplifting novel sure to start an important dialogue about the secrets we keep... and it could even save lives. The consequences of drinking and driving. How we can help others, before it is too late.

An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions (a great reading group guide included).

Fault line: “A divisive issue or difference of opinion that is likely to have serious consequences.” A fault line is something that will divide you and lead to some serious issues in a marriage. Physical fault lines are located beneath the surface of the earth. So they are not easily noticed.

The only way a fault line can be recognized is by going deep. By looking below the surface. Cracks. This involves communication-before it is too late. As in an earthquake, it often “causes great destruction or upheaval.” Destruction or survival. (Thought-provoking)

Mixed with domestic suspense and crime—Fans of Amy Hatvany, Randy Susan Meyers, Barbara Claypole White and Diane Chamberlain will enjoy the powerful and complex highly charged topics of family. My first book by the author, and look forward to reading more!

In addition to the digital reading copy, also purchased the audiobook narrated by Donna Postel, for an engaging performance. I always enjoy Postel –narrator of Donna Ball, Ellen Meister, J. Carson Black’s books, among others.


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/07/01/Faultlines
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