Sunday, April 29, 2012

"The Witness" by Nora Roberts

The Witness by Nora Roberts - book cover
As most people already know it, Nora Roberts is one of the most famous writers living in the United States today, being the author of various masterpieces such as Chasing Fire, Black Hill, and The Search. Occasionally, she also writes under her pen name J. D. Robb and in total has made over 200 publications, with more than 400 million copies having been sold worldwide.

In her latest novel, The Witness Nora Roberts tells the story of a young woman named Elizabeth who has to live with a very strict and controlling mother. As any rebellious teenager would, Elizabeth rebelled herself one night and went out on an adventure into the seedy underbelly of the city.

As she was drinking in a nightclub, she encountered a man with a very seductive Russian accent and he invited her to a house located on Lake Shore Drive. What ensued then would mark Elizabeth’s life forever.Around twelve years later, a woman only known as Abigail Lowery lives in seclusion on the outskirts of a town in Ozarks. Being a security system designer, Abigail spends much of her time and resources to reinforce her own security, which amongst other things features a ferocious guard dog and a true arsenal of guns.

While Abigail does her best not to bother the world around her and keep to herself, this only serves to make the local sheriff more and more curious about what it is she has to hide. Suspecting that she is in danger and needs protection, the sheriff does his best to solve this mystery and finally put an old story to rest.

Just like most of Nora Robert’s other works, The Witness contains an assortment of interesting characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies and unique contributions to the storyline. The plot progresses at a relatively fast pace and is not too complicated, making this book a very entertaining thriller which will keep your eyes glued to the pages until the very last twist in the end.


Nora Roberts (October 10, 1950)

Nora Roberts


Personal site

Nora Roberts is an American author who has more than 200 romance novels under her name, and is known to use the pen names J. D. Robb, Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.

She was the first inductee into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, and has seen prizes awarded to her as if they rained from the sky, having a total of over 25 in the form of Quill, RITA and Gold Medallion awards. Some of her better-known works include Night Shift, Born in Ice, and Angels Fall.

More of the Nora Roberts' book reviews:
Delusion in Death

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - book cover
Release date: May 1, 2007
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 350
Buy:
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Sara Gruen’s world-famous novel Water for Elephants begins as the main character, Jacob Jankowski, starts to talk about his past while living his last days in a nursing home.

He starts many decades ago when he was forced to go and work for the circus when his parents died in a tragic car accident, leaving him with nothing at all apart from a pre-paid tuition. However, Jacob left the education system without even writing a single word on his exams, eventually winding up aboard a circus train.

Naturally, Jacob joins the circus troupe , although it is far from being the next big thing.From then on, Jacob’s life starts to become more and more extraordinary while at the same time taking the reader into a world which gets progressively dirtier, grittier and more cruel. Sara Gruen makes use of her talents to give a very lifelike description of the post-depression era world in which Jacob lives, not to mention the colorful cast of characters.

There is for example Uncle Al who is a power-tripping crap who stomps on people just because he is able to while the animal trainer, August, is literally a paranoid schizophrenic. August has a wife however by the name of Marlene with whom Jacob ends up falling in love; it goes without saying that things take a dive for the worst as their relationship develops.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the fact that it manages to be a very deep character study while actually telling an interesting story complete with numerous twists and turns which will not only make for an entertaining read but will also keep you actively involved in the events of that surrealistic world. Keep in mind however that some parts of this book are quite explicit and possibly inappropriate for a younger audience.


Sara Gruen (1969)

Sara Gruen (1969)


Personal site

Sara Gruen is a Canadian-American author who was born in Vancouver. Her love for animals heavily transpires through her books as they, more often than not, deal with animals, educate about them, and generally place them in the spotlight. Her best-known novel is without the shadow of a doubt Water for Elephants, a circus drama set in the 1930s.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - book cover
Release date: June 28, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pages: 544
Buy:
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Even though most people may not be aware of it today, the 1960s were quite a troubled time in American history, mostly due to the racism, hypocrisy, and internal conflicts which kept arising between followers of different religious or political beliefs.

The Help written by Kathryn Stockett is a book in which four different members of a very unique household lead their lives during the beginning years of the civil rights movement.

Naturally, the daily lives of the characters involved in this story are far from being normal and uneventful as practically every day they manage to draw the ire of someone for one reason or another, are subjected to public humiliation on a daily basis, and are basically subjected to the same annoyances and pains as those working for them are.

While much of the humor in the book revolves around touchy subjects and somewhat taboo themes, the narration is always exquisite and manages to be light, easy to read, and conveys the multiple layers and complex relationships at work in the story quite well. All in all, if you enjoy light humor as well as an interesting and innovative story then chances are The Help will fit your agenda perfectly.



Kathryn Stockett (1969)

Kathryn Stockett (1969)


Personal site

Kathryn Stockett is a novelist of American origin whose successful debut novel has only led fans to beg her for more, and it was titled The Help. After being refused by more than 60 literary agents, it was eventually published and is today translated in over 42 languages worldwide.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Defending Jacob" by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay
Release date: January 31, 2012
Pablisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 432
Buy:
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Courtroom dramas have established themselves as specific genre in both movies and literature, and it has become a crowd favorite for a number of reasons. First of all, a courtroom drama invites the readers or the viewers to actively participate in deciphering what is going to on, to come up with defense or accusation strategies… just like a murder mystery engages its audience to try and solve the crime along with the investigator.

Second of all, courtroom dramas seldom have much physical action and thus rely on a carefully-crafted and intelligent dialog, something which fortunately most people still appreciate. One of the more interesting courtroom drama novels released recently is titled Defending Jacob and was written by William Landay.

The basic premise behind the story is a district attorney who defends his son when he is accused of murdering a classmate. Needless to say, a veritable whirlwind of laws and technicalities is brewed and doesn’t let up until the very end. In addition to that though, there are also some interesting themes explored, such as whether or not a violent predisposition can be inherited, or if there is something genetic at work when it comes to murderers. In the end, William Landay manages to lead the reader through many twists and turns, with a clever plot device making a timely appearance in the final pages of the story.


William Landay (1963)

William Landay (1963)


Personal site

William Landay is an American writer who graduated from Yale University, Boston College Law School, and the Roxbury Latin School. Before launching himself into the marvelous world of writing, Landay had a seven-year career as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County.

His very first effort, Mission Flats, earned him the award of the John Creasey Dagger (called New Blood Dagger nowadays) as the best 2003 debut crime novel.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery" by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery by Don Miguel Ruiz - book cover
Series: Toltec Wisdom
Release date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Amber-Allen Publishing
Pages: 248
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While there are many people out there who are trying to aggressively promote their views of the world and force people to see things as they do, Don Miguel Ruiz has taken a different approach when it comes to sharing his knowledge.

Following the Toltec beliefs about life, Don Miguel Ruiz has lived a long time and has seen many things, and he decided that this knowledge should not be kept from the world… it should be shared.

And so he started to put that knowledge into writing, with one of his most recent works being The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery.

Being a sequel to The Four Agreements, this book picks up where the last one left off and touches mainly on the subject of seeking the truth, recovering the power of your authenticity and changing the message which you deliver to the world.

Written by both Don Miguel Ruiz and his son Don Jose Ruiz, the main goal of this book is to persuade people to transform their lives for the better by actually looking to determine the truth behind the actions and decisions they make. Ideally, Miguel and Jose are looking to help people truly become not a product of their environment, but who they were really meant to be when they were born.

Naturally, every single point of view and practical advice is argued and debated as both Miguel and Jose know that even though they think they are right, there really is no undisputable proof in order to support them. If you would like to learn more about the teachings in this book, simply check out the following link below.


Miguel Ruiz (1952)

Miguel Ruiz (1952)


Personal site

Miguel Ruiz, perhaps better-known by some as Don Miguel, is a Mexican author whose efforts have centered on Toltec spiritualism and neoshamanism, in the same light as New Age philosophies, focusing on applying the ancient to the modern. It is known that he was heavily influenced by the works of Carlos Castaneda, with some of his better-known novels including The Four Agreements and The Voice of Knowledge.

More of the Don Miguel Ruiz's book reviews:
The Four Agreements

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom" by Don Miguel Ruiz

A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz - book cover
Series: Toltec Wisdom
Release date: November 7, 1997
Publisher: Amber-Allen Publishing
Pages: 160
Buy:
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Life is a very long and complicated phenomenon and as much as we would like to believe that we do know what is going on and why, the fact of the matter is that we can really know nothing; the amount of potential explanations for how this world works is simply unimaginable, and looking into different scenarios and paths is never useless.

After all, there is no evidence to support one theory over the other, so instead of arguing and fighting about who is right we should simply try to seek personal freedom and peace of mind in our own ways.

Don Miguel Ruiz is a proponent of the Toltec wisdom beliefs and in his book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom he shares what he believes to be the path to truly achieve personal freedom.

Of course, Don Miguel Ruiz provides much more than simple declarative statements as he actually argues his point of view based on his knowledge and experience. He is aware that it is possible for his views to wrong; he is not trying to convince anyone of anything… he is rather simply sharing wisdom and knowledge which he believes to be true. In the end, his goal is to help people pave a way towards "grace, peace, and unconditional love". If you would like to learn more about the teachings Don Miguel Ruiz has to share with us, simply check out the following link below.


Miguel Ruiz (1952)

Miguel Ruiz (1952)


Personal site

Miguel Ruiz, perhaps better-known by some as Don Miguel, is a Mexican author whose efforts have centered on Toltec spiritualism and neoshamanism, in the same light as New Age philosophies, focusing on applying the ancient to the modern. It is known that he was heavily influenced by the works of Carlos Castaneda, with some of his better-known novels including The Four Agreements and The Voice of Knowledge.

More of the Don Miguel Ruiz's book reviews:
The Fifth Agreement

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"My Horizontal Life" by Chelsea Handler

My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler - Book cover
Release date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Borderline Amazing; Reprint edition
Pages: 240
Buy:
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While there are still a lot of people who are frowning down at the concept of a one-night-stand, it is a practice which is becoming more and more popular among young people these days; people have discovered that sex can still be enjoyable even if not associated with love, or even some type of relationship.

This actually makes quite a bit of sense seeing as how at the base, sex is a natural and biologically-driven act which is done with the purpose of reproduction, with feelings never being taken into consideration.

In any case, comedian Chelsea Handler gives us her view of the one-night stand in her book titled My Horizontal Life. How exactly does Chelsea convey what she feels about this phenomenon?

Well, her book starts off fairly innocently enough as she takes a picture of her parents having sex when she was only a seven-year old girl. However, she jumps forward in time to a point in her life when sex, drugs and rock n’ roll was her way of living. She tells the barrage of one-night stands she had to deal with, ranging from well-endowed dates she found on Chocolate Singles to a "little midget". The humor in this book is very light, and needless to say, there are numerous metaphors in connection to sex and genitals.



Chelsea Handler (1975)

Chelsea Handler (1975)


Personal site

Chelsea Handler is a famous American television show personality, a comedian, an actress, an author, writer and producer. He has her own late-night talk show called Chelsea Lately, and she published a number of works, including Are you There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea and Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.

More of the Chelsea Handler's book reviews:
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

Monday, April 09, 2012

"Go the F**K to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach

Go the F**K to Sleep by Adam Mansbach - book cover
Release date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Akashic Books
Pages: 32
Buy:
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With a seemingly inappropriate book cover, Adam Mansbach’s Go the F**k to Sleep is a book like few other ones as it tackles the age-old problem of getting a child to sleep quite differently from anyone else.

In this book, children do not simply fall asleep after their night light has been turned on or after their parents read them some kind of comforting tale. This bedtime book was seemingly made for parents who live in a realistic world where putting toddlers to sleep is a very long, complicated, and most of all, frustrating journey.

As you can probably tell by the title, the book itself is quite profane and bluntly honest, although it still manages to remain affectionate (because after all, these are parents and their toddlers we are talking about).

Mainly geared at parents, this book will surely bring the laughs, although it goes deeper than that as it encourages people to open up conversations about their parenting experience, even giving us somewhat of a permission to finally get all the aspects of parenting which are bothering us out of your system.

If you are interested in seeing somewhat of a different take on the trials and tribulations which come with parenthood and putting a toddler to bed, then check the following link below.



Adam Mansbach

Adam Mansbach


Personal site

Adam Mansbach is an author of American origin who from 2009 to 2011 was a professor of literature at Rutgers University-Camden. He is best-known for his brand of dry and blunt humor, having taken to writing what he refers to as children's books for adults, with his most prominent book to date being Go the F*ck to Sleep.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

"Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt - book cover
Release date: November 21, 2006
Publisher: WmMorrow
Pages: 496
Buy:
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Economics are an extremely important part of the world as nearly every aspect of daily life hinges on them in one way or another. It can even be said that the world today runs thanks to economics.

However, it seems that economics is considered as being one of the least interesting sciences out there, with many people claiming it to be dull and outright boring. It has even come to point where economists are generally seen as gray and only concerned with numbers and money.

There is a man though by the name of Steven Levitt who begs to differ as he points it out in his book titled Freakonomics. He argues that various questions and mysteries in regards to everyday life can easily be answered if the right connections and logical deductions are made.

He believes that by asking the right questions people can always find an answer to any phenomenon which is happening. For example, Levitt successfully investigated the data available about Chicago inner-city gangs and concluded that they actually run a corporate structure which is very similar to fast-food restaurants where the bosses at the top make the real money while the lowly hirelings make below minimum wage sometimes. Levitt attempts to share his very bold and logical perception of the world.

Steven David Levitt (May 29, 1967)

Steven David Levitt (May 29, 1967)


Steven David Levitt is an American author and economist whose work has always revolved around the criminal, with perhaps one of his more well-known topics being the link between legalized abortion and crime rates. In 2003 he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, and he wrote a number of research papers delving into the darker topics, such as prison population, juvenile criminality, drug gang financing, amongst many others.

Friday, April 06, 2012

"Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Release date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition
Pages: 384
Buy:
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While for a lot of people see fast food as being something completely normal and even necessary in a developed society, there are others who are in disagreement and see it as a corruption which is slowly but surely killing millions and millions of people around the planet.

There are a lot of people who are actually quite surprised that people would readily throw away their health like it was nothing in exchange for a quick meal.

Eric Schlosser is one of those people and he decided to look deeper into the fast food industry and what lies beyond.The result of Eric Schlosser’s investigation is a book titled Fast Food Nation and it is dedicated to showing the reality of every single aspect of the fast food phenomenon, from the young cashiers all the way to the suits sitting at the top and raking in the money.

In a lot of cases his discoveries are quite disturbing as he even points out at some point how unsanitary the practices of most fast food industries are to the point where feces can literally make their way into the meat.

If you are interested by the phenomenon of the fast industry and would like to have an unbiased look at what is really happening behind the curtains, then I heavily recommend you read Eric Schlosser’s investigation.


Eric Schlosser (August 17, 1959)

Eric Schlosser (August 17, 1959)


Eric Schlosser is an American investigative journalist who touches on large societal topics in his rather well-known books which include Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness and Chew on This. His exposition of the practices of the fast food industry have painted a target on his back, though he certainly seems to have intention of backing down, even appearing in movies about the subject in one capacity or another, as he did in an interview for Super Size Me.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

"Bossypants" by Tina Fey

Bossypants by Tina Fey - book cover
Release date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Pages: 275
Buy:
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Keeping up with the image of a light-hearted, slightly chaotic and somewhat mischievous person, famous American author Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants is a short, sweet, messy and hilarious story.

In her book, Tina Fey goes through her career as a comedian from early sketches on Saturday Night Live to her days of making Sarah Palin impressions and her attempts to get Oprah to appear on 30 Rock. The parts which are about her career give a very detailed and somewhat surprising look behind the curtains of the comedy world.Apart from covering her own career however,

Tina Fey also spends a considerable amount of time covering her personal stories such as her cruise ship honeymoon as well as the advice she has to give about breastfeeding. Throughout the whole book the situations are always looked at through a comic perspective and it seems as if Tina Fey enjoys living a lifestyle where there are simply too many things for her to handle. er ability to simply laugh her problems off as if they were nothing is what really shines through in her story.


Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" Fey (May 18, 1970)

Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" Fey (May 18, 1970)


Tina Fey is a renowned American actress and comedian who also moonlights as a writer. She is best known for her works on Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and Mean Girls, also having won eight Emmys, two Golden Globes, five awards from the Screen Actors Guild, and more… not to mention her autobiography, Bossypants, was at the top of the NY Times bestsellers list for five weeks.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

"The Green Mile" by Stephen King

The Green Mile by Stephen King - book cover
Even though Stephen King is mostly known as being the master of horror novels, he does branch out from time to time, tackling different types of stories.

The Green Mile is one of those stories as it is set in a death-row facility at a penitentiary in Cold Mountain where resides a certain giant by the name of John Coffey who is accused of raping and murdering two nine year-old twin girls.

Narrated by the warden himself years after the event, the story has a twist in the sense that it is discovered that John Coffey actually has the power to heal, and yet he wants to die, not to mention that the accusations against him start to seem more and more doubtable.

If you are coming into this book expecting some kind of big and violent twist, then you are going to be disappointed. This book is more of a character study, a look as to how learning the truth about Coffey can challenge our most important beliefs and morals.

This story is quite complex and consists of six different volumes, and while it may take you some time to truly understand what is happening, you are going to get something different out of it on every read. If you would like to check out this book then head on over to the following link below.


Stephen Edwin King, (September 21, 1947)

Stephen Edwin King


Personal site

Here is a man who probably needs no introduction. Stephen King is known by virtually everyone as being the master of horror, coming up with classics such as It and The Shining, but his literary talents to extend beyond that as he delivered plenty of memorable novels in other genres, including 11/22/63 and Under the Dome.

More of the Stephen King's book reviews:
Finders Keepers
Revival
Mr. Mercedes
Doctor Sleep
Joyland
The Dark Tower
Full Dark, No Stars
Under the Dome
The Stand by Stephen King
Bag of Bones
A Memoir of the Craft
11/22/63

Monday, April 02, 2012

"World War Z" by Max Brooks

World War Z by Max Brooks - book cover
Release date: October 16, 2007
Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition
Pages: 342
Buy:
Amazon(US) |  Amazon(CA) |  Barnes & Noble





While many people can be in complete denial about it, there was a war between us and the zombies and surprisingly, we came pretty close to losing it. Now, the world lies in ruins and people have to fend for themselves in small groups and tribes.

Very few such as Max Brooks see the need to preserve the information about this phenomenon, and so he chose to go around America recording testimonies from any survivors he could come across.

Otherwise said, Max Brooks can be considered the first post-Zombie war journalist, and as a result of all his travels he wrote a book titled World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

To date, it is the most accurate and vivid depiction we have of the hell zombies brought upon this Earth, providing accounts directly from people who made it out alive from some of the most dangerous zones once the infection broke out.

Going from the New Dachang (which belongs to the United Federation of China) to unkown forests and deserts, Max Brooks took it upon himself to chronicle precisely what happened and when during the Zombie war, as well as how humanity is dealing with it after. Hopefully, the knowledge brought to us in World War Z will contribute to preventing another phenomenon like this from happening again.


Max Brooks (May 22, 1972)

Max Brooks (May 22, 1972)


Personal site

Born in New York City, Max Brooks is the son of legendary comedy filmmaker, the unforgettable Mel Brooks. However, unlike his father, Max always had a keener eye for darker stories with a penchant for the terrifying. He wrote the infamous Zombie Survival Guide and even appeared on-screen for numerous productions as an actor.

More of the Max Brooks' book reviews:
The Zombie Survival Guide

Sunday, April 01, 2012

"The Dark Tower" by Stephen King

The Dark Tower by Stephen King - book cover
Even though it seems that less and less people like to read books, there are still writers which are very highly considered by everyone. One of those writers is the world-famous Stephen King, or as some people prefer to call him, the master of horror. Some of his greatest and most recognized works include Carrie, Christine, and It.

While it is true that not of all of his works live up to his reputation, he is still going strong today with one of his most interesting works as of late being The Dark Tower collection.Featuring four different books,

The Dark Tower is basically the story of a mysterious gunslinger who travels the world through ancient times all the way to becoming a frontier Western legend.

Naturally, the world in which the story is set is very dark, macabre, dangerous, menacing, and even surrealistic to a certain point. As a lone warrior, the gunslinger crosses damned plains, deserts and towns in hopes of getting closer to the Dark Tower which he sees in both his dreams and his nightmares.

Staying true to his style, King created a world where greed, vengeance, corruption and selfishness are only a part of daily life. The Dark Tower collection is by no means a light read, although there is something for everyone, especially for fans of King’s previous works.


Stephen Edwin King, (September 21, 1947)

Stephen Edwin King


Personal site

Here is a man who probably needs no introduction. Stephen King is known by virtually everyone as being the master of horror, coming up with classics such as It and The Shining, but his literary talents to extend beyond that as he delivered plenty of memorable novels in other genres, including 11/22/63 and Under the Dome.

More of the Stephen King's book reviews:
Finders Keepers
Revival
Mr. Mercedes
The Green Mile
Doctor Sleep
Joyland
Full Dark, No Stars
Under the Dome
The Stand by Stephen King
Bag of Bones
A Memoir of the Craft
11/22/63