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Review: The Like Switch by Jack Schafer & Marvin Karlins

[ 2 ] March 31, 2015

the like switch book coverReviewed by Garret Rose

Humans have the need to love and to be loved. Relationships are integral to our growth as well as a means to help us navigate through an interesting and sometimes difficult world. Sometimes that doesn’t come easy. If you are an introvert, a.k.a. a shy person, or timid around people, then The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over can be a great fit for you. It can teach you how to look for signs of attraction (either friendly or romantic), as well as how to maintain the appropriate space, eye contact, and physical contact in a budding relationship. Schafer and Karlins give advice on the “Friendship Formula”, “The Laws of Attraction”, “The Curiosity Hook”, and a very important chapter at the end titled “The Perils and Promise of Relationships in a Digital World”. If you are a person who feels that they need help in these areas or others, than this informational book can be a helpful tool and guide.

There are moments where this can feel a little like Emmet’s guide from The Lego Movie titled “How to make friends and have everybody like you”. Perhaps the reviewer didn’t need information on how to make better eye contact as well as appropriate stances for conversations. Some of the information was self-explanatory, but then again, one never knows. This book can be a useful tool into building better relationships as well as a source for some very astute and interesting anecdotes for the strategies given.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Garret loves literature! He is creating the Vernal Journal for his students as well as anyone else that is interested in literature – be it fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, or even miscellaneous! Garret’s goal is to share, review and make connections to the world and each other.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

[ 2 ] March 30, 2015

dark intelligence book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Dark Intelligence is the first book in a new series called Transformation in the Polity Universe. The book begins by introducing Thorvald Spear in a virtual resurrection room. He has just been resurrected from his recently recovered memory implant. Apparently, he was found sitting in a jewelry store window set in a nice brooch.

After going through his acclimation process he has a chance to absorb his last memories and it leaves him with a need to revenge himself and his friends. It appears his last days with his friends were on a planet fighting against the Prador. One of their own ships carpet bombed the stronghold and wiped out the whole unit. This and some other not so pleasant memories coming back to him leave him with a burning hatred for one Penny Royal, a rogue AI. He adjusts to being resurrected 100 years after his death pretty fast–spurred on by his desire to return the favor to Penny Royal.

Thorvald needs information to track this rather enigmatic AI. Being out of commission for a 100 years leaves one with some rather outdated info. While digging for information on Penny Royal, Thorvald finds many stories about the AI, showing that she was not idle while he was indisposed. One of her victims/supplicants/treasure seekers was Isobel Satomi, a rather important up and coming crime boss. She went to Penny Royal requesting help and she got what she asked for, though not exactly what she wanted.

Penny Royal has a reputation of being able to supply whatever one wants, for a price. Almost the genie in the bottle. However, her deals often have a very Mephistophelian bent. If you aren’t careful, you get exactly what you wish for. Thorvald learns that Isobel was one who got more than she bargained for and he approaches her with promises of reversing the problems, as payment for services she can render.

Dark Intelligence is a very interesting book and Penny Royal is a “chess player” like none other. She always seems to be three steps ahead of everyone else. I enjoyed listening to this book and found myself eager to get the next one in the series to see where things will lead to. It did have a good story arch and one could stop with this book, but why? While this is decent sci-fi, I think it is a great twisted mystery and worthy of a read–or a listen.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

[ 0 ] March 30, 2015

never fade book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

Never Fade is the second book in the Darkest Minds series, and the tone of the novel is dramatically different than that of its predecessor. Whereas in the first book the reader gets to see the main character, Ruby, as a somewhat fragile, confused ex-prisoner, we now get to see her as a soldier working towards the cause of saving other young people like herself.

The book picks up six months after the events of The Darkest Minds. Ruby has joined and very reluctantly risen up the ranks to become a respected leader in the Children’s League. She is often called upon to use her psi abilities to read the minds of those who know important information about what the League is trying to accomplish. All this has come at quite a price to Ruby: the friends she met and became close to when she first left her camp, Chubs, Zu, and Liam, no longer have any connection to her.

Ruby’s world is fast paced and though a lot of thrilling things happen to her, I didn’t find myself as engaged in her story as I did in the first installment of this series. I believe this is mostly because several new characters are introduced rather quickly in the first half of the story, and Ruby is not one to open herself up to new people (or anybody really). Therefore, you don’t see her making connections or feeling much. After only six months of her new work, she is jaded.

The second half of the story really ramps up, as the friends we got to know and love from Ruby’s past come back into her life. These are the people Ruby cares about, and the tone of the book and Ruby’s voice changes completely after they are reintroduced.

Though I’d classify this story as a dystopian political thriller, there are small doses of romance scattered in as well. The small amount that the book does have is very engaging and will make your heart beat faster. The author is talented at writing these small love scenes, and I hope to see more of them in the next novel of the series.

The end of the book moved very quickly, and didn’t really wrap up what at times were quite confusing political storylines for me. I can tell the author is laying the groundwork to have this all finished in the final novel, but it made for puzzling reading sometimes.

I am definitely ready to see how Ruby’s tale will end, because I love her as a main character and I have enjoyed watching her develop. I know not every tale can have a happy ending, but I am hoping for a satisfying one.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Disney-Hyperion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 9 ] March 29, 2015

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at the Mailbox Monday blog

Here are the books that made their way into my mailbox last week:

Paper Review Copies

thrill me book coverkiss me book coverdeath marked book coverking ya book coversolitaire book coveryou can trust me book covericefall book covertrusting liam book coverthe phantom of menace book coversorceress book coverwhen it's right book coverfollow your gut book cover

Digital Review Copies

they call me crazy book coveri don't have a happy place book cover

Additions to Personal Kindle Library

comfort of lies book cover

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Review: Carole P. Roman Children’s Books

[ 1 ] March 29, 2015

lived in hungary book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

Where would you like to travel? From where have you traveled? How much of this world have you experienced in person or in books? I love to travel, but we don’t get out nearly as much as I would like! Because of this, I love to travel second hand through stories from friends and books. We have a good friend who moved here from Hungary via Australia, thus my children and I were very excited to read the latest in Carole P. Roman’s series If You Were Me and Lived in Hungary.

For the last several years, we have traded stories of our Serbian culture with stories from our friend’s Hungarian childhood. It is always fun to compare languages, places and experiences. For instance, my children call my mother in law Baba. In Hungarian, a baba is a doll. Roman shares this, along with her usual vocabulary list, vacation destinations, and festival descriptions in If You Were Me and Lived in Hungary.

But that is not Roman’s only new addition! Captain No Beard has welcomed Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles!

Poor Fribbet is upset, but why? His home, his whole world, is changing and he doesn’t know what to make of it. First, there are eggs all over. Then, tadpoles go swimming about. Quickly, they begin to grow legs and transform into froglets! Now his mom and dad are REALLY busy!

Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles book coverHaving recently celebrated the first birthday of our seventh baby, my kiddos can relate to busy parents and many siblings (in fact, they were giggling over Fribbet’s reaction to his siblings all through this story), but they were on the side of Captain No Beard who encouraged Fribbet with examples of the fun that comes along with all of the… well, all of the bother that younger siblings can be at times.

Not only does Roman do a great job of exploring the topic of sibling integration in a new and more tasteful way than any other children’s writer that I have read, but Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles is also a wonderful book to assist in introducing children to the life cycle of frogs. The story, in combination with the great illustrations, clearly teach children about the neat and unique process these amphibians go through from egg to frog. Not only do I love the exploration of science for kids that this series is tending towards, but the fact that the science here is so well blended with the “new baby at home” theme, means that I won’t feel the need to ditch the book when baby is no longer “new”.

Whether the little ones in your life are expecting a new brother or sister (or multiples!) sometime soon, or are simply budding naturalists, they are going to love Roman’s new Captain No Beard Story: Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles.

I am very interested to see what area of science Captain No Beard and his crew explores next!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Alyssa Katanic is a wife and homeschooling mother of 7 children under 11 years old. She loves reading and collecting great books to share with others and knows that one can never have too many!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Carole P. Roman. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: But God by Herbert Cooper

[ 0 ] March 28, 2015

but good book coverReviewed by Charity Lyman

I frequently read Christian self help books but more often than not I feel like I’ve wasted my time. Typically, it’s a lot of reading with semi-interesting facts that make no difference in my everyday life. These books bring to light areas where one might need to change but don’t give any answers on how to make that change possible. When But God: Changes Everything showed up for review, I almost didn’t even take a second look. But I respect Craig Groeschel (who wrote the foreword) and on that recommendation alone I decided to give it a try. Here are my thoughts on But God by Herbert Cooper.

But God takes the reader through a journey. It is written specifically for those who have tried option after option and yet have made no significant changes in their lives. The author walks them down a path that will alter their lives forever–all from having a “but God” moment. We have all had those times where nothing seemed to go right, we were losing hope, getting frustrated and upset. It is during these moments when we need God to step in, but we often don’t let Him.

The author gives his own “But God” story and then uses that as a springboard for his book. I read through this in about a week. It took me that long because I wanted to slowly devour it. I found myself taking notes and wanting to know more about having a “God” moment. We may have even had one of these moments without realizing it until later. This is a book that thoroughly details how and why God steps in when He does and what He expects of us. Excellent book!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Zondervan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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