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December 26, 2013

Book Forty - One of my 2013 Goal

Bird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered FriendsBird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends by Budd Titlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love photography and birds so when I came across the book, Bird Brains: 'Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends' by Budd Titlow, I was really interested in reading it, the only thing holding me back was the price. Believe me, it was money well spent! Mr. Titlow not only tells his personal experiences (as both a wildlife biologist but photographer as well) the photographs of the birds are amazing.

The book is broken up into areas of where the birds were found and pretty much covers the US as well as touching on those on the Galapagos Islands. (I found that amazing since the Galapagos Islands is the only foreign land on my 'bucket list'.) The photos are approximately a quarter of a page so don't think this is a picture book (although it does contain these photos, it is not page after page of photos with just a sentence or two about the bird) because it is not and then he starts his description of the bird, its behavior, some personal experiences, what it eats, sometimes a little history and if it is a native species or endangered along with other related information that I found both educational and interesting.

Some of his stories are down right funny. I can't imagine looking through my camera to take a picture of a bird on the ground who keeps walking toward me getting bigger and bigger in my camera so I had to change my lens. Then it still kept coming until I finally had to move my camera and tripod because the bird wanted to walk right where I had it. I am not sure if I'd be shocked and sitting there with my mouth open at my fantastic fortune of being in the right place at the right time or on the ground laughing at this crazy bird who hasn't the sense to walk the other way.

I also learned quite a few things throughout the book about different birds. I know I will never look at a turkey or a bald eagle the same way again. Nor did I ever know there are birds that fly far enough in their lifetime to do a couple of trips to the moon and back. Even some of the more common birds that I have seen here in New England that are covered in the book have some interesting facts told about them that I didn't know and these are birds I see all the time.

The photos are outstanding! Although I will admit I wish there were more pages in the book so the photographs could have been bigger. Not that this is a short book (over 200 pages), it isn't what I consider short and every page is packed with information but those were some amazing shots. Speaking of the shots, the very last one at the end of the book is "haunting" as I can't get it out of my head.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes and are interested in birds.

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December 24, 2013

Book Forty of my 2013 Goal

Collection of Poetry and Prose: From Young MysticCollection of Poetry and Prose: From Young Mystic by Evan Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Collection of Poetry and Prose: from Young Mystic by Evan Shaw is a little different than any poetry book I have read in the past. I am not a poetry major and don't claim to be so I can't tell you about the structure of it nor the patterns, all I can tell you is that I do enjoy poetry which is why I read it and I can tell you what I see and feel about this book.

Evan's insight adds to these works of poetry in such a way that it goes hand in hand with the works, it doesn't take away or overpower any of it. His insight and knowledge is quite impressive. The collection of poetry and prose are varied with subject, time, and rhythm (some do rhyme, some not so much) as well as the overall 'feel' and I enjoyed it all even though some I thought should have gone just a bit further as they seemed unfinished in thought, such as "The New Atlantis." Then again, it is possible I am just not 'getting it' and their is nothing missing. It is hard to say because different people can all read the same poem or prose and it can mean different things. It is possible that is what is happening here. (I did enjoy it just the same.)

As far as the overall book is concerned, I found it oddly formatted. The whole thing was centered and at times I wasn't sure what I was reading, a poem, prose, or what. As I got into it though, I did get use to it and was able to tell (for the most part) which is which. I also wish the title of the poem was at the top of the page and I know this is just a formatting issue but it does take a little away from it because a couple of times I had to turn back to catch the title that was sitting on the very bottom of the previous page although the prior poem ended at the top of that same page.

I think anyone who enjoys poetry and prose will enjoy this even with (to me) the odd format of the book so I do recommend it.

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December 21, 2013

Book Thirty-Nine of my 2013 Goal

Of Man, Sun and StarsOf Man, Sun and Stars by Vasileios Kalampakas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Stories) Of Man, Sun, and Stars by Vasileios Kalampakas is composed of five different stories of science fiction and fantasy. Each one is a good story and a short read without fillers and a lot of unnecessary writing. The stories get straight to the point and although none really go into any great length of character development, the author provides enough so you understand who and what is going on without any difficulties.

As I said, all the stories are good but my favorite is Eden. It is something I would expect to see on an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Actually they all are! Maybe this author is missing his calling and should be writing for TV.) It was extremely entertaining due to the humor, the mystery of where the teens went, and the edge of your seat thrill to see if they get back in time. Although I admit, I didn't like the ending. (Not that it was a lousy ending, I just didn't like the outcome at the end of the story.)

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Science Fiction and quick reads.

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Book Thirty-Eight of my 2013 Goal

Corey the Christmas Calf (Corey the Calf)Corey the Christmas Calf by Patty Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Corey the Christmas Calf by Patty Johnson is a children's book. I don't write reviews for every children's book I read, I write them only when I come across an exceptional one and this one really deserves that title. The children loved it!

I bought it to read to my grandchildren ages 4 & 6 while their mother went to the store being it was only 24 pages long I figured it would take their mind off the fact that they weren't with her for a few minutes and we could move on to something else to do. That never happened, we were still talking about the book even after she got back from the store!

The book has pictures, one every page of Corey doing something related to what was written on that page. They are fun and colorful so naturally each child wanted to see it before I turned the page. The text on each page was only about three sentences long so it wasn't like they sat there having to listen to a long speech. It was long enough to tell the story without any fillers or unnecessary information so it kept their attention. (Don't forget they want to see the picture on that page too!)

What I really loved is that there was a lesson to be learned by Corey. In this particular book it was about 'giving' and that Christmas is not all about receiving but giving as well. Naturally, Corey had no present to give so how can Corey give anything? The author answers that at the end as well as gives parents tips on how to teach your children about the virtue of giving to others and she don't mean just monetary donations. Great suggestions and some even a 4 year old can do. We spent a long time thinking of ways to give and discussing some of the suggestions.

I haven't read the series of Corey the Calf, only this one book that I picked out simply because it is Christmas time and this is a Christmas story so I can't say anything about any of the others but I definitely recommend this book for young children.

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December 20, 2013

Book Thirty Seven of my 2013 Goal

Seven Point Eight : The Second Chronicle  (7.8 , #2)Seven Point Eight : The Second Chronicle by Marie Harbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Seven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle' by Marie Harbon is a very long story that fits into so many different genres/sub-genres I am not even sure where to put it. It is a fiction for sure but it also fits into: romance, mystery, sci-fiction, action, fantasy, horror, thriller, and I am sure many more. It sounds overwhelming but believe me, this author really worked it all in to create a glued-to-your-kindle type of story. With each turn of the page she had me wanting to know what was going to happen next because there are so many twists and turns and "where did that come from?" moments that I wasn't able to predict many of the outcomes at all.

This story dives deep into the characters and their development. I really don't recall reading a book in the past that was this deep. I know so much about the main characters that I sometimes even know their thoughts and that's all done as part of the story; it is worked in, in such a way where this development serves to heighten the story and my understanding of it. Even with this superior level of depth to the characters, I couldn't really describe the main characters as pure good or evil, it was more of a struggle between the two: where fairies come into the light, where inner demons hide in the shadows. It is what I call intense!

As far as the story itself goes, some of the descriptive scenes of other dimensions made me want to sleep with my light on. The author makes it so real that I could swear I smell the rotting flesh right along with the main character. Not only are these scenes described with such intensity but so are feelings. Although I don't really call the actual sexual acts in the book very descriptive (it isn't a hard core sex book) it does take place several times and while this is happening, it is the psychological (not the physical) descriptions that are amazing.

The main plot deals with the OOBE project and there are many layers and sub-plots to this story. I didn't realize it when I started the book but as I read on they developed right there between the pages which kept it a fast paced, action packed read. Now that I read the whole book I can say they are all handled in way that is not confusing and you are not left hanging on wondering what that was all about. I am not saying it didn't end with a twisted cliff-hanger because it did but all the loose ends are tied up and once again you are left with the question that needs to be answered in the next book.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fictions with love, tragedy, experiments of time/dimensional travel. (As I said, there is a lot more to this book but you really need to like at least those to enjoy this book.)

*I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

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December 6, 2013

Book Thirty-Six of my 2013 Goal

Tales From Little Lump - Alien SeasonTales From Little Lump - Alien Season by Jeff Folschinsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tales from Little Lump - Alien Season by Jeff Folschinsky is a short book, I guess you would call it a novella but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in humor. It is something I am glad I read in private because I just couldn't contain my laughter.

The setting is Little Lump, Texas and the main character is a older woman who is cranky (to say the least) but she sure don't take any 'funny business' from others, not even the aliens! I really do love her and she totally makes me laugh. The other characters are also great, the story couldn't happen or be this funny without them but I can't help but love Gertie!

I really can't say too much about the story as I don't want to spoil anything but put this town, a doomsday prepper, a conspiracy theorist, a bunch of scared town folks, and an alien together and you have what make this a fast moving, totally funny, quick read. I think anyone who would like a good laugh would love this story.

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December 2, 2013

Book Thirty-Five of my 2013 Goal

Paper, Scissors, Death (Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery, #1)Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paper, Scissors, Death (Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery #1) by Joanna Campbell Slan is the first full length book I read by this author and it won't be the last! This is one of those books that have you turning page after page wondering what is going to happen next and you just don't want to put it down. What even makes it more interesting is that I am a Scrapbooker so I can relate to it all the more than someone who isn't. This doesn't mean it is for Scrapbookers only because it is not. Everything is explained in such a way that even someone who never visited a scrapbook isle would understand it. What I mean by this is like being a photographer and the book mentions things like shutter speeds and going on a 'shoot'. We all, or at least most of us, know what these things are but someone who is a photographer can relate all the more than say I can (someone who never was on a 'shoot' and uses the automatic setting on a camera). This book is part of a mystery series and everyone who likes mysteries might enjoy this.

I shouldn't say mystery as far as the story goes, I should say 'mysteries' because it not only has the main mystery but in search of solving that, the main character, Kiki ends up with several mysteries but never lost sight of wanting to solve who killed her husband and why. (Since the author has this information in her book details, I don't consider it a spoiler.) Some of these mysteries are the kind when you read about them you think you already know who done it and where the story is going. Forget it! The most logical is not always the answer. There are many twists and turns that I didn't see coming.

Speaking of the main character, Kiki is a very well developed as a person. She has a life, memories, and hopes and dreams for the future. She has a daughter and someone she is 'attracted to'. Then of course she has a mother-in-law that basically blames her for her son's death and doesn't get along with her. There are also the friends she has, some very good ones as well as not so good. In other words, her 'life' in this book is very full and real as is she (as well as all the characters). Not everything happens to her is good nor bad. She is living a life full of family problems, real problems, and of course her mystery and all that goes with that.

Keeping with this author's style, there are instructions, suggestions, and information on scrapbooking scattered throughout the story. Not random stuff either! If one of the chapters is about Kiki making a scrapbook, at the end there might be suggestion on what basic supplies you need to make a scrapbook. It all relates to that chapter in some way but it is not at the end of every chapter so don't think you have to read a bunch of stuff you will never use or already know. It is only a select few chapters and clearly marked so you can skip over it if you already know or are not planning to ever make a scrapbook. It in no way interferes with the story nor is there so much of it that a quarter of the book is this information. It is not! As I said, it is just a few times throughout the story and I just think of it as a bonus. Also, I know I said this is the author's first full length book I read but the key words are 'full length" here as I did read the short stories which is how I got hooked. The problem is I read them in a row so now I don't remember if any are in this book or if they were only in the short stories but if someone is cooking something in the chapter, you might find a recipe at the end instead. (Another favorite hobby of mine!)

Speaking of ends....that was some cliffhanger!

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