Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sweet Eats for All by Allyson Kramer

Book: Sweet Eats for All

Author: Allyson Kramer

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A collection of approximately 250 dessert recipes for those following a gluten free/vegan diet. Yes, you can have healthy sweets!

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I have to say that I could not believe the beauty that was in this cookbook. Ms. Kramer presented stunning desserts that are both gluten free and vegan friendly. 

I will admit that I was cynical, but intrigued about how appealing the recipes in this book could truly be, but I found that there were numerous recipes I would make. I'll admit it...when I am wrong...I am wrong!

Easy to follow recipes, partnered with beautiful photos of finished goods. The cover says it all!

Source: Publisher for review through Netgalley

Would I recommend? : I have recommended this book to numerous people who are on special diets either by necessity or choice. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

Book: House of Cards: A Novel

Author: Brendan Duffy

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Ben Tierney's family has suffered a lot. His wife, Caroline, has lost her big banking job. His son, Charlie, is being bullied at school and Ben, so stressed out, has writer's block. 

When Ben inherits the family estate, The Croft, in upstate New York, he sees it as the new lease on life they need.

Ben was wrong.

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: Let me first start off by saying that I was impressed with this debut novel. It was well constructed, particularly for a debut, and it was creepy. So, only 3 stars?

I love horror. Not vampires, werewolves, and zombies horror, because that isn't horror to me. But horror for the things you can't see. Horror that gets into the crevices of your mind and makes you shudder. 

What I found was this book started off that way. In the beginning, I found myself unable to put this book down as I was drawn into occurrences on the estate. However, at some point, I can't say exactly when, the book simply fell off and became a cliched horror novel to me. The same type of occurrences in the mediocre books throughout the genre. I found this to be really sad because this author had shown that it wasn't his earlier pattern in the book. 

Towards the end, I found myself just wanting it to end and not really caring for the characters. In horror books that have garnered higher ratings from me, BAM moments were right up to the last page. 

 I will say that I have a number of friends who have reviewed this book, as well. I have found that those who don't particularly read a large amount of horror absolutely loved it. They gave it 4/5 stars. Those of us who do read a large amount of horror stayed in the 3/3.5 range. You be the judge. 

Source: Publisher for review through Netgalley/Library (print version)

Would I recommend? : Yes 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Destiny by TD Jakes

Book: Destiny: Step into Your Purpose

Author: Rev. T.D. Jakes

Release date (if applicable): August 4, 2015

Synopsis: Bishop Jakes presents THE PECKING ORDER PRINCIPLES to assist in setting and achieving goals to accomplish one's destiny. Also discussed are behaviors/actions that individuals do to screw up their destiny and shoot themselves in the feet. 

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: Last year, I had the opportunity to review what I would call the companion or first step to this book. INSTINCT was a book I couldn't put down. I ended up purchasing both a print copy and an audiobook version of the book because the words that were written were so powerful. DESTINY followed its example with the importance of the words written and the topics discussed. 

TD Jakes makes powerful arguments for one's destiny and roadblocks that we put in its way. His ability for putting perspectives into BAM moments for reflection was priceless to me. For example, one of the most important parts of the book to me was his analogy of "Every Day is a Withdrawal from the Bank of Time" which was a comparison of minutes wasted each day as money spent/withdrawn from our life bank. This book was loaded with these that just put life into perspective and how life/destiny is wasted. 

Not being overly religious and a person who tends to avoid faith-based books, what has stood out to me was that the Bishop doesn't come into his books and beat and berate readers over the head with religion. He instead makes logical arguments as how one can support or destroy their destiny or who they are supposed to be with their own actions. I would feel very comfortable recommending this book not only to the religious, but those who live a more agnostic lifestyle. I will say that this book did have more of a reference to God than INSTINCT did, but I did not find it distracting. 

One criticism of this book that I did find that wasn't present in INSTINCT was a redundancy of concepts or words that didn't fit and didn't have the feeling that it was being emphasized. Had that not been present or I wasn't reading this book for review, this book would have received my very special and almost never given 10/5 Stars like INSTINCT received. 

Source: Faithwords through Netgalley for review

Would I recommend? : Absolutely. See above. Like INSTINCT, I have also pre-ordered this book in print and audio to be able to really delve into the book and tear it apart from a learning perspective versus a reviewer perspective. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Book: Little Black Lies: A Novel

Author: Sharon Bolton (formerly S.J. Bolton)

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: The children of the Falkland Islands are disappearing and the islanders know that there is a child killer among them.

Catrin Quinn, a mother damaged by the accidental death of her sons by her ex best friend Rachel and Catrin's lover Callum all have secrets that could rip apart not only them, but the small island they call home. 
My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: Ms. Bolton is on my list of top five favorite British mystery writers. I have read every one of her works, so I believe that I can state (with some authority) that this is her best work to date. 

Little Black Lies had a different feeling to it in its approach and style than any of her previous reads. Told through first person narrative that was so descriptive that I felt I was almost in the characters' heads. There was something poetic in the flow of the words of this book that isn't present in her other words that led to a tormented beauty to the book. To say I was amazed, doesn't quite cut it. 

Now, I am going to do something that I RARELY do. I am going to compare this book to a classic. When I read Little Black Lies, I felt the same intensiveness that I felt while reading both Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Does that mean that I feel this book will be a classic? No, but it had that same intense draw to me. 

Just a note. This book is told from first person narrative by three different people. One must keep that in mind. If not, it is very easy to get lost in the story. The fact that the author crammed three perspectives into only a couple of days makes it more difficult. 

Source: St. Martin's Press through Netgalley

Would I recommend? : From the mountaintops!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone