Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My First Giveaway!!!

Recently I reviewed "The Thorn" by Beverly Lewis, the first book in the "Rose Trilogy" by this author. Somehow I ended up with two copies, so I am going to have a contest and give one of my copies away!

To enter the contest, become a follower of my blog, become a follower on Twitter, or "Like" my new Facebook page!

You will get one entry for each type of "follower" that you become. If you are already a follower on the blog or Twitter, you will get an automatic entry. Also, starting today, if you comment on any of my posts, you will receive an entry for each comment! Wow!

This contest will run through February 14th. I will pick the winner at random and annouce it on my blog on Valentine's Day! Good luck!!! 

Book Club Review -- "The Help"

Our Book Club book for January was “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. This was (I believe) a first book for this author.

This book is really difficult for me to describe, so I will just give a short overview and then give my opinion.
“The Help” takes place in Mississippi in the 1960’s and revolves around three main characters:  Abilene, an African-American maid who has raised 17 white children; Minny, Abilene’s friend and fellow maid who routinely gets fired for mouthing off to her white employers; and Skeeter, a young white lady fresh out of college who is wondering what to do with her life. The story is told from all three points of view, and deals with the turbulent times of the Civil Rights movement. Skeeter becomes interested in the lives of the maids and wants to write their stories.
I really liked this book. It was entertaining, insightful, daring, and just all-around interesting. The dialect used for the African-American women was difficult to read at first, but it got much easier as you got used to it. The perspective of the maids was shocking to me. I can’t believe that people were/are treated that way in America.
(One thing I thought was odd was that the white people at that time actually thought that black people were dirty and had different ‘diseases’ than white people. Therefore, they would not let them use the same bathroom as white people. But…they would let them take care of their children and cook their meals…That doesn’t make sense to me. I guess that is the point. Racism doesn’t make sense.)
I think everyone in my book club was in agreement that this was a really good book. We liked the characters, we liked the ‘story-within-a-story,’ and we liked the dialogue. We also found out that there is a movie being made of this book! It is supposed to be out sometime this summer. Ladies from Book Club…let’s go see it together!!!
Overall, I would recommend this book, and I will give it… 4 ½ Book Worms!

For more information about this book, please click here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Flight of Shadows" Review

“Flight of Shadows” by Sigmund Brouwer was sent to me as a review copy from the group “Blogging for Books” through WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers.
“Flight of Shadows” is a science fiction book that takes place in a post-apocalyptic America. There is even a large section of America that has seceded and has formed its own nation, an ultra-religious society called Appalachia. Our main character is Caitlyn, who, because of genetic manipulation, is valuable to many sects of people in Appalachia and in America. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know that. All she knows is that she is being chased.
And, really, that is what this story is about.  This girl being chased.  Being chased by her old friends (who helped her escape Appalachia—then she ditched them), by her new friends (who try to help her but she runs off), by the good guys (who want to help her but don’t know why she needs help), by the bad guys (who want the secrets inside her), by the other bad guys (who want her because they are turned on by “freaks”), and by the other bad guy (who was hired to take her back to Appalachia). 
You would think with all these characters that the reader would actually start to care about them at some point. For me, this never happened. The good guys are jerks, the bad guys are monsters, and the ‘heroine’ is so one dimensional that it is frustrating.
In addition to this book being pretty one dimensional, it is extremely graphic.  The violence in this book is off the charts.  It starts out early with one of the characters losing an eye in a terrible and grotesque fashion.  I will not burden you with any of the details, but it was over the top and unnecessary.  Plus, there are multiple mentions of rape and child molestation as cultural norms.  The rich do whatever they want to the poor and the poor just have to take it. It seemed as if that is what the author was trying to write about.  The differences between the four classes of people in this society are staggering and very sad.  I am sure the author is trying to teach a lesson in social policy or something, but it gets lost in the gore of the rest of the book.  He tried to create a vehicle to teach a lesson and got very lost along the way.
I will give “Flight of Shadows”… 1 ½ BookWorms.


The story of the genetic manipulation was interesting and could have gone somewhere.  Regrettably, the violence overshadows everything else.
For more information about this title, please click here. To read an excerpt from this title, please click here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"The God Hater" Review

"The God Hater” by Bill Myers was given to me as a complimentary review copy by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.
This book is a contemporary novel about an atheistic Philosophy professor named Nicholas Mackenzie. Nicholas and one of his co-workers, Annie, get involved in a sociology experiment that is spearheaded by Nicholas’s brother, Travis. This project involves the creation of a computer-generated world that is to be used for research purposes, studying how societies react to various commercial and political variables. However, the people in this computer world never survive much longer than a generation. Travis and his team need Nicholas & Annie’s help to figure out, basically, how to keep their CGI people from killing each other for ‘survival.’ Since Nicholas is a staunch atheist, he wants to try every other philosophical belief out there before he tries anything close to a world with a loving, Creator God. The story revolves around this virtual world and the people who are trying to keep it ‘alive’ and also those who are trying to sabotage it.
I think the best part of this book is the story of the virtual world and the relationship between the virtual world and Nicholas. Even though the characters in this world are not real, the experiment does make you think about what truly is the driving force in our lives. I also thought the book was an easy read. Although the scene changes were abrupt at times (each scene change flips to another ‘voice’ or ‘story’), I didn’t find myself bogged down, and I finished the book quickly (as did my husband).
As for criticisms, I think that the people trying to sabotage the Experiment were just unnecessary. I think that part of the story was added to give the book some action sequences, but the virtual world scenes had enough action to make for an interesting book. I also didn’t like the very end of the book. Even though this book might be considered science fiction, the ending was just too far-fetched, especially since the story had been pretty much spot-on theologically up until then.
Overall, this was a fun read that gave a good viewpoint of what our Creator has done for us in order to save us from ourselves.  I would enjoy reading more books by Bill Myers in the future.

For more information about this book, please click here.
I will give “The God Hater”… 3 ½ BookWorms!

I just have to put the following in my review for those of you who have read this book (or don’t care to have part of the plot of the book spoiled), but be aware that it does reveal a ‘surprise’ in the book.
If you are ever in a dangerous situation, and you meet someone who says he is an FBI agent, and he gives you his card with a cell phone number on it, please, please, PLEASE check him (and the number) out through some other means before you just blindly trust him! Don’t be like Annie in this book. Give your local FBI office a call instead of endangering your life (and the life of your son) even more by believing some strange dude claiming to be a government agent. Has this Annie person never watched a James Bond movie?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."