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July 16, 2012

Book 38 of My 2012 Goal

The Church RetreatThe Church Retreat by Joel Tuggle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Church Retreat by Joel Tuggle is about a church group that goes on a retreat in South Carolina where two girls end up missing and not about religion or a church so don't let the name of it turn you off if you happen to be atheist. The book sounded like it would be a really good suspense, even scary but it didn't seem to live up to that description. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad book, I still liked it but I think it just could have been so much more mysterious/scary than what it was. The major problem I had with it was the under development of the character plus there were so many of them that we bounce around to as well as the story having too many subplots.

The story opens on September of 1971 when there were a few boys playing around with an air rifle, drinking from the beer bottle one of the boy swiped from his home and doing what boys do. Eventually they get into a bit of trouble so they run to a barn to hide and two of them end up missing. Now we come into present time, October 2001, a church group went to a camp not far from this barn. The children left the camp when Carrie, a thirteen year old girl, realized she forgot her book back at camp so Allison who was following the bus in her car took Carrie back to camp to retrieve it while the camp bus went into the next town since one of the children on it was not feeling well. The girls never showed up at town and eventually Carrie's father comes to look for her. There is a bad tropical storm coming so the local authorities are busy with preparing for that but eventually with the father's persistence someone is assigned to help him look for the missing girls. They eventually find their car and with the storm approaching time is of the essence to find them.

This part of the story is what I would say was the main plot (and a good one) but now we throw in some sub-plots of a drug cartel, escape, blackmail, a dirty sheriff, kidnapping, an affair, and a secret pot farm and this is only naming a few of them and it gets a bit confusing as to what is going on and who is who. I found the only one I could 'connect' with was the father looking for his missing daughter and I am not even sure if that is because of the author's development of the character or because I am a parent and remember how I felt when my eleven year old went missing (and that was for one only one day with no storm approaching) but for sake of argument I will say the author's development of this character is the cause since he was the best developed one in the book.

As I said before, despite my pointing this out, I did like the story. I especially thought the opening of the story was fantastic. Not only the whole 1971 chapter but the father when he was hunting. I thought that scene was just too funny when his phone rang and he saw who it was calling. I just wish there was less complications and more association between the missing boys and the missing girls other than this being the same general area. For example, the 'legend' of what prowls the woods (If you want to know what prowls the woods, you'll have to read it for yourself.) if introduced earlier could have been worked to lend to a real scary mystery of the disappearance of both sets of kids but it isn't really realized until the end. Speaking of the end, it really did tie up all the loose ends and also had a few surprising twists that I didn't see coming.

All and all, I thought it was a good book, a little complicated but good and I would recommend it.

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July 11, 2012

Book 37 of My 2012 Goal

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Deathloop by G. Bratley sparked my interest since I enjoy reading reincarnation and and other fictional subjects. In this story the main character Zack Fortune lets his best friend's wife, Clarissa, hypnotize him to bring him back to a past life. She warned him not to come out of it by himself and wait for her to bring him out of it. Zach experienced horrific visions and panicked and so he brought himself out of it despite Clarissa's warning . The next day someone standing on the edge of a roof calls out to Zack by name just before she steps off and lands at his feet with a deadly thud. That was just the beginning of his life spiraling out of control.

Weird things happened to him throughout the book such as people calling out his name and asking for help right before they died yet he never met him before, legal investigations and charges brought against him, and relationship problems. None of these were clear-cut cases of reading about the incident and moving along, they were very complex going off into different directions and involving so many other people that half the time I didn't know what was going on and found myself rereading pages. To me it seemed like the author wanted the reader to get to know too many people and the interactions among too many people which made reading very difficult. Not every person in the story has to be a major character nor do I need to know what they are thinking and doing all the time.

I thought the story would redeem itself when Zack and Veronica (Zack's girlfriend) went to Renfield and Veronica wend to the old church for to see the "Renowned Spiritualist Russell Garrity". When Veronica walks in she is welcomed and even expected but when Zack walks in not only is he told to get out, he is physically thrown out. It is shortly after this that Zack gets his phone number and calls Russell Garrity. He agrees to meet him so Zack (and I) can finally get some answers. Russell Garrity insists on meeting Zack on a old, small foot bridge since the meeting has to be over water which only adds to the climax of this meeting. However, the meeting turned out to be 'weird' and not all the answers were given due to the somewhat predicable outcome for Russell Garrity.

The reactions of the characters were unbelievable. The things that Susan said and did to Zack, Veronica, and everyone else for that matter were just unreal but what was more unreal is the reaction of these people to her. Zack with his bad temper I figured would have done something to Susan to keep her from showing up at the door and confronting his friends but he did nothing to her. In fact, even though she accused him of sexual assault he goes and talks to her. The 'mind games' she and Zack played throughout were annoying. The relationships between Zach and Jason, Zach and Veronica, and Zach and Sam really stretches one's imagination. I felt these were totally unbelievable so I am not sure exactly what the goal of the author was other than to write a fictional story.

I would not call this an enjoyable book because of the complex relationships between these people (physical, sexual, and physiological) or maybe I should rephrase it to say I would not call this an 'easy read' book. If you just want to relax with a book without having to concentrate on who is who and the chain of events then I would not recommend this book however if you're into soap operas and complex relationships with some strange and at times unexpected twists then this book is for you.

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Book 36 of My 2012 Goal

The Enchanted Time TravellerThe Enchanted Time Traveller by Mal Mohanlal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Enchanted Time Traveller: A Book of Self-Knowledge and the Subconscious Mind by Dr. Mal Mohanlal states some very interesting concepts. Starting out with the statement that we are all hypnotized if not by the world around us then by ourselves or both. His goal was to de-hypnotize and free us (the reader) so we can start thinking for ourselves and free ourselves from the bonds of ignorance. He explains about the "self" or "ego" and the subconscious mind, how to stimulate it in a positive way and change. In order to change we need to use three properties of the mind which are insight, perception and awareness. He explains what role these all play and gives examples. He also touches on the subjects of habits, time, love, obesity, words, fear, and much more. Each being easy to read yet something that I really needed to reflect on.

Just how powerful is the mind? Well, I know I have heard many times through the years that most people only use a small percentage of their brains/minds. So who really knows what the mind can do? We all hear the expressions "Laughter is the best medicine". Why is that? According to the author it is because how you stimulate your subconscious mind. If you are laughing, then you are happy. When you are happy it means you are stimulating your subconscious mind positively. When you do that then your brain is producing good chemicals so your immune system is functioning at maximum level. Thus, you have the best medicine possible for whatever illness you may have...laughter (positive stimulation of the subconscious mind). So the author seems to agree that laughter (positive stimulation of the subconscious mind) is the best medicine. Beware though, the author also says the opposite. If you have negative thoughts then you will feel depressed and/or ill.

Although I believe I understand what the author is saying, I do not agree with everything he says. An example of this would be when he said that if we didn't understand the mental principles and rules we'd find ourselves in conflict, confusion, and chaos. "When we do, we try to seek freedom from this state of mind by creating various religious beliefs, philosophies and concepts out of our own mind and then try and hide behind them." I really don't think that statement is true no more than I think by saying "I feel good" (when I was told I had cancer) would create a positive, worry free state of mind either consciously or subconsciously. Because being told I had cancer would make my conscious mind worry and no matter how much I try and tell myself and my subconscious mind that I can't do anything about it. People die, we all die sooner or later so there is no sense to worry. That I don't want to be sick so "I feel good". I am going to worry because I 'know' that I am sick and dying. And yes, I do believe people are afraid of dying. The author states that we can only fear something we know and the phrase "fear of the unknown" is nonsense. He explains his view on why he makes this statement and although I don't right now agree with it, it is something I really need to think about (as is a lot of the other statements).

Like I said previously, this book is filled with information that really needs to be reflected upon. It is a self-awareness and self-helping book to better everyday life. To break free of our perception of time and discover the timeless. To rid the negative and learn how to embrace the positive and so much more. With the examples and explanations Dr. Mal Mohanlal uses, it is easy to understand and I do recommend it.

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July 4, 2012

Book 35 of my 2012 Goal

Dog Trots Globe - To Paris & Provence (A Sheltie Goes to France)Dog Trots Globe - To Paris & Provence by Sheron Long
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dog Trots Globe - To Paris & Provence (A Sheltie Goes to France) by Sheron Long is a short and quite unique book. For one thing it is an enhanced audio and video (for iPad and online) and for another it is narrated by the dog. I really liked the suggestions of how to set the different devices for the best coordination of pictures and text.

I wouldn't exactly classify it for children as they wouldn't have a clue what the places are or words mean although I imagine depending on their age they may be able to guess between what the dog describes and especially by the many fantastic pictures provided although my first impression was that this a book written in the view of a dog so it is for children. However, if an adult was sitting there with the child to answer any questions they may have it would be a fantastic way to introduce their child to France plus get some great pointers on places to visit in France. I also think if you plan on going to France (or any other country outside the US for that matter) it provides great advise on what papers you will need to take your dog along, what size crates, how they will travel and more.

Chula, means pretty in Spanish, the 9 year old Sheltie did a great job in this short but fun story. It was interesting and I totally enjoyed it.

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Book 34 of My 2012 Goal

ChoicesChoices by Martha Kennerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Choices: A Novel by Martha Kennerson was very hard to put down. It was well written and although the author did say it was a work of fiction she also said it was based in part of personal experience. I am not sure which part is fiction but this whole story could be totally true as it was believable.

The main character is Kristine who finishes high school and spends time with her aunt before she goes off to college. She ends up falling in love with a man that she could never have a future with. When he leaves the pain and heartbreak is almost too much for her. Between her friends and family she manages to pull her life together enough to go off to college however with her broken heart still mending some choices she makes are devastating and life altering.

Following Kristine, her friends and family you can't help but feel connected to her like she is one of your friends too. When she was happy and in love, I was happy and when she cried, I cried. It was like re-living that lost love that I imagine most of us females had at least once in our lives when we 'found the one' or at least at the time we thought 'he was the one' and our worlds came crashing down. Then off to college and who can't forget the ride to campus and moving in, meeting your roommate for the first time? Unfortunately there are other things that come with it and that is the parties, drinking, and for some drugs. College life is not simple and for some their personal life 'alters' which makes them wonder if staying in school to pursue their dreams is the answer.

I know the way I am reviewing it, it may sound boring but it is not. I simply don't want to say too much to create any spoilers but believe me it is one of those books you don't want to put down. The story is interesting from start to finish with the characters being introduced nicely and without so much details that it goes off course. The story moves at a great pace and never gets boring with a cliff-hanger ending.

I recommend this easy enjoyable read and think that most young female adults would really like it.

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