Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
In 1892, every major newspaper in America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn't her crime that shocked the nation – it was her motivation, which was dismissed as insane far before the case ever came to trial.
Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell loved Freda Ward, but if she couldn't marry her seventeen-year-old fiancĂ©, no one could. When Freda’s sister discovered their love letters, she exposed the couple’s plan to elope in Memphis and live in St. Louis, where Alice would pass as a man support them.
Intimate female friendships were commonplace at the turn-of-the-century, but forty years before the term "lesbian" would emerge, same-sex love was virtually unknown in America. Alice and Freda’s scheme was therefore dismissed as a schoolgirl fantasy taken too far. The fathers were to be kept out of this affair entirely, and yet, just to be sure, the two families’ matriarchs handed down a definitive sentence: Alice and Freda were never to speak again.
Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned Alice, leaving her heartbroken and isolated. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter – and her father’s razor soon went missing.
On January 25th, Alice slashed her ex-fiancĂ©’s throat, but a crowd formed before she could take her own life. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her own father that very night, and every expert in the state of Tennessee agreed with the retired businessman: this kind of perversion was dangerous and incurable. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national and local interest, Alice spent months in jail – including the night the KKK lynched three of her fellow prisoners, a case that captured the attention of Memphian Ida B. Wells.
Alice's lunacy inquisition was over in just 10 days. She was sentenced to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances a few years later.
Alice + Freda Forever tells tragic, real-life love story with the aid of over 100 illustrated newspaper clippings, love letters, legal correspondence, and re-imagined courtroom scenes. Their names may not be familiar now, but Alice and Freda’s story became a national case study for same-sex love, perpetuated as strange and dangerous in a wide-array of literature, from medical texts to works of fiction. This sensational crime occurred well over a hundred years ago, but this world will prove sadly familiar to the modern reader.

MY TAKE:
I'm not sure exactly what it was that drew me to this book, but I'm glad I gave it a try.

In Alice + Freda Forever, readers learn about the love story of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward, as well as the aftermath of Alice's shocking decision to eliminate Freda.

This book reads a bit like a crime documentary in book form. That is, we get flashbacks of important moments and details of Alice and Freda's romance, as well as what happened in the courtroom afterward. Interwoven through the narrative where Alice and Freda's letters, some articles and other things, so readers get to see the whole affair through almost omniscient eyes.

From what I can tell from the story, Alice and Freda's relationship was quite toxic. Alice was possessive and Freda was like Maureen from Rent, flirtatious and loved attention. The way the book was written, as well as the way it was presented, really allowed me to feel the excitement and other emotions that the participants in the story felt.

Aside from Alice and Freda's story, we also get a glimpse of life in Victorian-era America. Let me tell you, it made me very angry. During that time, racism and sexism were very much alive. There were moments when I felt like yelling at the men in the story that they were idiots. I'm so happy that I live in a world that is striving to make things better for everyone.

Thanks to NetGalley and Zest Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The book is well-researched.
  2. The story is well-written.
  3. You get to see what life is like in Victorian-era and how that played into the events in the book.

THE BAD:

  1. The longer letters written using a handwritten font made me feel a little cross-eyed as I tried to read it.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like watching documentaries.
  2. You hate racism and sexism.
  3. You like reading about life way back when. 

RATING:
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:



The Junkyard Bot: Robots Rule, Book 1 by C. J. Richards
Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe
Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes by Jeff Campbell
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: The Complete Adventures of Johnny Mutton by James Proimos


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
It's hard being the only sheep in class. Even so, Johnny Mutton refuses to follow the herd. His sweet sense of humor, sheer delight in life's simple pleasures, and unexpected triumphs are the stuff of legend. Whatever the adventure, Johnny's incredible zest for all that is ordinary showcases why he's so him--and why no one can resist his zany charm. Johnny will tickle your funny bone--and leave you wondering just what he'll think of next.
Fans of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants will have a new laugh-aloud hero to root for in this collection full of zany illustrations, jokes, and wild fun.
MY TAKE:
I thought Captain Underpants was an entertaining book, so after reading the blurb for this book, I decided to give Johnny Mutton a try.

In The Complete Adventures of Johnny Mutton, readers get to know Johnny, a young lamb who was raised by a human, as well as his momma, his friend Gloria, and his nemesis Mandy.

The book is a compilation of three Johnny Mutton books, so there's plenty here to read.

The comparison to Captain Underpants is valid in a way. It has the same, silly humor and feel to it, but Johnny is nicer and sweeter than the main characters in Captain Underpants. Johnny is a pretty endearing character and even when he's being naughty and doing things that would annoy you in real life, on paper, it's actually quite amusing. I think that's why Johnny is such an easy character to cheer for.

Kids will love Johnny's antics, but personally, aside from the interesting variations in panel sizes, layout and presentation, I liked the Where Are They Now part.

The illustrations style wasn't for me, though, but I did like that the ARC I received was in full color.

Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. Johnny is a likable character.
  2. The stories are funny, but some of them have good lessons for kids too.
  3. There are plenty of stories to read.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style might not appeal to everyone.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like books with silly humor.
  2. You like books like Captain Underpants.
  3. Your child likes reading comic books.

RATING:
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Angry Birds Comics Volume 1: Welcome to the Flock by Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The Angry Birds are on the move by air, land, and sea in this exciting volume that collects the first four issues of the series!
Join Eisner-nominated creators Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin as they lead the flock through wild adventures across the birds’ island home.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Piggyland, the funnest place on the planet!
Discover the plots of the deceptive pigs as they attempt to swipe a nest-full of eggs! Feel the action as the Angry Birds crash through every page!
See it all in this awesome collection based on the best-selling game!

MY TAKE:
I saw several episodes of the Angry Birds television show and I thought this would be just like that.

Angry Birds Comics Volume 1: Welcome to the Flock features nine short comic stories featuring the different birds and pigs from the Angry Birds game.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the birds and the pigs had understandable dialogue in the stories. This allows readers to really see the personalities of the different characters. For example, the red bird is the leader and the three little birds are fun-loving kids.

Since there were plenty of stories here, it felt like I was reading an issue of Archie comics and the like, which is great because I'm a huge fan of those kinds of comics, thanks in part to my short attention span.

The quality of the illustrations are quite good, and won't disappoint fans of the show. The stories are mostly pretty funny too, with the first story featuring the black bomb bird being the best, in my opinion.

Thanks to NetGalley and IDW Publishing for the e-ARC. Publication date of Angry Birds Comics Volume 1: Welcome to the Flock is on October 21, 2014.

THE GOOD:

  1. The quality of the illustrations is excellent.
  2. The stories are fun to read.
  3. You really get a feel for the personalities of the characters.

THE BAD:

  1. It would be better if there were even more stories.

READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of the Angry Birds game.
  2. You like comic books similar to Archie Comics.
  3. You wished the Angry Birds television show had more dialogue.

RATING:
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Wait For It The Legen-dary Story of How I Met Your Mother by Jesse McLean


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
As the record-breaking run of the CBS hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother draws to an end, new fans of the epic romantic comedy are still appearing in droves, thanks to the joy of binge-watching on demand. What better way for old fans and new to reminisce about all the friendships and fun than by looking at the series as a whole in Jesse McLean’s Wait For It. With an entertaining examination of each of the nine seasons of the show, McLean not only looks at the characters and stories, but the making-of stories, the running gags, the lead actors, and the lasting impact of How I Met Your Mother on pop culture thanks to a cult fandom that’s grown to a national obsession.
MY TAKE:
How I Met Your Mother is one of my favorite shows, so when I saw this book, I just knew I had to read it.

In Wait For It The Legen-dary Story of How I Met Your Mother, the author takes us back to some key episodes, trivia, etc. from season one until season nine. It also includes brief biographies of the main cast, with the emphasis placed on their professional work.

As the summary states, this book analyzes the series and certain episodes from the different seasons. It was fascinating for me since it gave me the chance to look at the series and the characters in depth and not just see them as television characters. My husband and I really enjoy this series, mostly because of the humor, but I guess, also partly because of the different things the author points out, like HIMYM tended to invert tropes.

Overall, I liked the book, particularly the trivia parts, but I would have liked it more if the analysis parts were edited down to make room for short episode guides of all the episodes, and maybe more quotes from the characters.

Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of quotable quotes.
  2. There are some interesting trivia and factoids included.
  3. The book is able to summarize the key points of the series.

THE BAD:

  1. Some fans may prefer a little more trivia and quotes and a little less analyzing.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
As Future Ted remarks early on, we all hold onto things that signify the person we thought we were going to be - instead of the compromised and likely unfulfilled adult we've become.
READ IT IF:

  1. You liked How I Met Your Mother.
  2. You like reading books about television shows.
  3. You want to know why so many people like HIMYM.

RATING:
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Amish Family Restaurant by Becca Fischer Book Blast



Yoder Family Restaurant

Yoder Family Amish Restaurant

Sadie Zook is in an impossible situation. After a long search, she's finally found love. But the man she's fallen for also happens to work at the same Amish restaurant--a restaurant that has banned co-workers from dating. So Sadie and her boyfriend are forced to keep their love a secret. Can they keep from being found out, or will everything Sadie has worked so hard for be jeopardized?

Praise
"What a great story. Great story line. I couldn't put it down." - marshalljs

"I recommend this out-standing Amish Christian romance book to any reader young or old. Ms. Fisher has written an delightful book exhibiting excellent taste." - Dr. Wanda Piercey



About the Author

I'm Becca Fisher and I write sweet Amish romances featuring simple people with complex love lives. I'm devout in my faith, relish time with my family, and seek to bring joy to as many lives as possible. I would love to have you as a reader. God bless.


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Book Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/4/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope, and Rescue by SEAL Team Six by Dilip Joseph with James Lund


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
An American physician in rural Afghanistan faces the unimaginable
Dilip Joseph dreams of life as a medical humanitarian. In 2009 his dream comes true as he joins the staff of Colorado-based Morning Star Development, a nonprofit community and economic development organization.
On December 5, 2012, Dr. Joseph and two native colleagues, en route from a medical clinic in an Afghan village to Kabul, find themselves face-to-face with four men carrying AK-47s. Forced at gunpoint into the back of a truck and driven to a remote location, the men are sure they are headed to their execution.
Kidnapped by the Taliban is the dramatic account of Dilip Joseph's terrifying journey. He rides a roller-coaster of emotions wondering if he will ever see his family again. Readers will marvel at Dilip's surprising bond with one of his captors. After four days of uncertainty, gunfire announces the arrival of Navy SEAL Team Six, the elite group of soldiers that took down al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. SEAL team member Nicolas D. Checque loses his life in the rescue, as do the Taliban kidnappers.
Though processing the ordeal is a lifetime pursuit, Dilip unexpectedly finds it gives him new reasons to hope. His experience reveals to him and the reader that even the Taliban, a society that so many dismiss as pure evil, includes real human beings in search of a better, more peaceful life. And in that lives hope for us all.

MY TAKE:
This book is more serious than the other books I've read lately, but I enjoyed it anyway.

In Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope, and Rescue by SEAL Team Six, Dr. Dilip Joseph tells the story of his kidnapping, starting with how he came to be in the country until after his return to America.

The story is part-action-adventure, part-inspirational and part-self-reflection. The descriptions of Afghanistan, the culture and pretty much everything that happened to Dr. Joseph is described vividly so it feels like you're watching a movie.

Some of the things he mentions in the book about Afghan and Muslim culture are not new to me as my world history professor (who was also our world religions professor) was quite thorough especially about things he thought were important in order to understand people from other cultures. There's some mention of the history of the Taliban and their influence in the book so you don't need to know that before reading this.

As you can expect from the blurb, the Taliban, or at least Dilip's kidnappers are humanized here. It's not saying that the doctor agrees with what they do or their beliefs, but it does in a way say that these people are searching for a better life just like the rest of us. They treated him kindly, at least, despite the fact that the Taliban in general are known to do some very bad things.

It was easy to empathize with the doctor, but I'm not sure how those who have lost someone to the Taliban and Al Qaeda would feel if they read the book. It doesn't praise his kidnappers, but it can feel unsettling sometimes because they did show occasional goodness.

The most important messages in this book, though, is having faith in God and helping those who have so little. It takes a while to get there, but it's worth the read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You learn more about Afghan culture.
  2. You get a peek into the lives of Taliban.
  3. The descriptions and prose are vivid and easily help you imagine what happened.

THE BAD:

  1. It's quite a long read.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
When we invest in those who are vulnerable and disenfranchised, our lives become more fulfilling.
READ IT IF:

  1. You've thought about working for an NGO in other countries.
  2. You believe that no one is inherently evil.
  3. You like action movies.

RATING:
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