Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Recent reviews of new or noteworthy books

I've been reviewing books for years, have well over 900 and 11,000 comments at a major online site (Amazon) - but it takes time to review all those books! I get free books but NO PAY. I won't take pay for my reviews becasue I don't want my opinion influenced. However, I am always mindful of authors and their hard work, so if I hate a book, I try to find something positive to say about the author, the book, etc. Most of my reviews are positive, if not glowing (superb books are rare, good books are not).

So what you will be reading below are my honest opinons. If any of these books grab your interest, I hope you'll read them and also chime in with an opinon. Some book I've read are pre-publication copies, so you may have to wait a bit before they are out, put them on a list or something. Also, if you are on a budget, you may want to wait for paperback editions or try book swaps with friends. You can get some good bargains and many online sellers will combine or offer free shipping, saving your time and gas money. Just a thought.


1. The Year of Liviing Biblically - A.J. Jacobson - This has been a recent favorite. It is nonfiction and tell the story of one man's quest to live for an entire year in a heartfelt attempt to follow every rule, instruction and value in the Bible (both Old and New Testament). He is not particularly religous and he doesn't approach this from any particular viewpoint,although his background is Jewish. Along the way, he consults with all sorts of religious experts, from priests to rabbis, the Amish and even speaks with Mormons and polygamists. The result is a lively and often funny book that will have you thinking about what it means to live ethically in today's world and how difficult it might be to LITERALLY follow every part of the Bible, from stoning adulterers to wearing clothing of unmixed fabrics. I learned a lot reading this one!

Quantico - by Greg Bear - There was a live chat with the author last night and it was fascinating. This is a thriller, set in the world of biochemical terrorism and I waws riveted from the first page because what is described seems all too plausable to me. Books like this can (hopefully) get readers to think about ways to change the world for the better and prevent tragedies. One thing Mr Bear said in the Live Chat has stayed with me: "Knowledge is Power and it is also a Race". As a parent, I want to make sure that my children and everyone's children have an opportunity to get the knowledge they need to stay in the race. Our lives could depend on it!

IEP and Inclusion Tip for Parents and Teachers by Anne Easo and Kathleen Whitbread - (IEP Resources, Publisher) - A short paperback that if full of valuable info for any parent who has a child with special challenges, whether it is dyslexia or some other learning challenge. Ther are sections on Preparing for the IEP Meeting, what to do during the Meeting, Creating Legally Correct IEPS that will help YOUR child, Tracking Progress, Handling Disagreements and How to Encourage Teachers and Staffers at School to Develop Educational sytems that are Inclusion minded (I used a lot of caps because some of these are chapter titles).

Run - Anne Patchett- When a mother dies, their father has the difficult task of raising three boys, two of them adopted and African-American. There is a crisis when one brother is nearly killed when he absent-mindedly steps in front of a car and this brings about even more life-altering events. I don't want to say more for fear of spoiling the story. This book is a bit slow-paced but, as an adoptive parent, it certainly had me thinking about how a child's identiy is affected by adoption - or could be.

Getting Unstuck - How Dead Ends Become New Paths- Timothy Butler - The author, a longtime psychologist, reveals how change, whether expected or not, can be an opportunity for growth. Some of those changes (the death of a loved one, divorce, getting fired) may be unexpected and others come about because someone hates a job and wants to quit but is afraid of what may lie ahead. They are paralyzed by fear. For those who are eager to get "unstuck" and/or want to know if they are truly ready for change, this book could be a great help. It includes exercises to awaken your vision of what YOU want from life, suggesetions for finding activities and people who share your views and (most importantly, in my opinion), a guide for making the choices that can get your from HERE to THERE. One of the most fascinating examples in the book was at the beginning, when the author wrote about Betsy Sloan, a woman who had the courage to leave her secure but deadening $100,000 job as a major CPA for a large company to teach high school for $34,000 a year. How many of us could do the same? Yet she is happy and I'll bet we could use more teachers like her!


RA said...

I liked what you said about your reviews being "positive, if not glowing". I've recently started a blog reviewing the books I read. More than a critical review, the blog is purely for personal reasons. I'd like to make a note when I read a book about how I felt when I first read it. Changes in my life change the genre of books I read. I'm hoping by this blog I can record my emotional psyche at the moment.

Since I've started putting into words my thoughts about any book, I've noticed, that the review is usually has a positive side to it. Sure there are books that I've read which have not moved me in any way, but then I haven't been able to write about them at all :).

Have you come across books you've not wanted to write anything about?

My blog:
I'm new to writing as opposed to reading so lots of reviews are pending :).

heather said...

Thanks for mentioning the Greg Bear book---it sounds interesting, and I love his work.

I hope you don't mind that I've added your site to the blogroll on my reviews blog.

I too write mostly positive reviews; it makes sense if you bias your reading toward things that interest you and take into account the screening process most published books go through. And, since I know that all readers are different, I always try to think about whether there's someone for whom the book wouldn't be appropriate (if I like it) or would be (if I don't like it).

That said, though, there have been a very rare few books that I did pan, because I disliked them THAT much.