Nancy Beck

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Nancy Beck

  • Love Has Its Ups and Downs on Nov. 27, 2011

    It's not easy having a bipolar spouse, and sometimes you feel like I have (especially lately) - alone and unable to tell anyone what's going on. Because of this book, I finally was able to get it together and tell some friends of my husband's relapse. What was esp. disheartening was that he was so good for years...only to relapse into major buying sprees when we can ill afford it. The warmth and understanding of this book can't be understated. DEFINITELY worth your while if you have a loved one with bipolar. Ms. Rice lets you know you aren't alone in how you feel.
  • Formatting eBooks with Open Office Writer on Nov. 27, 2011

    I've owned this book for quite a while, and it really has helped with my formatting. There just isn't anything out there specifically for Open Office (and I have a hunch it will work with Libre Office, since Open Office is in limbo as I write this review). With the author's step-by-step guidelines, I can now format chapter headings and paragraphs with no fuss. No fluff here. If you're a refugee from Word, this is the book for you.
  • The Disappeared: A Retrieval Artist Novel on Dec. 06, 2011

    What a fantastic story! I've been trying to read more SF lately, and this filled the bill...and then some! Miles Flint is a detective working on the Moon when a space yacht is found - with 3 dead people inside. Another space yacht, piloted by a young woman, comes into the Port, calling out a Mayday as she attempts to not crash the yacht. A strange coincidence? Or do these two events share something? And what's with all the aliens showing up, demanding human kids as payment for past wrongs perpetrated by the adult humans? **POSSIBLE SPOILER** What first drew me in was the opening couple of pages, where we first meet that young woman; it broke my heart that she had to leave her fiancee behind... In summary, this is a nice mix of SF and mystery. You'll keep guessing until the very end as to what Miles will do.
  • The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam) on Jan. 02, 2012

    This is a fantastic beginning to the series. Amaranthe is an enforcer (police) in a world vaguely reminiscent of the Victorian Era on earth. She comes face-to-face with the emperor, Sespian, while investigating a possible crime. She next gets a call from the head of the army, Hollowcrest; she is given an order to seduce/kill a known assassin, Sicarius. Why is she chosen? She hasn't been an enforcer for too long, but Amaranthe can't disobey an order, especially as this assassin is in town to kill the emperor... One of the fun parts of the story was Amaranthe getting together a bunch of men to do...something...and they are the unlikeliest bunch of guys you could ever imagine acting as a team. (Yet, they do, including the "pretty boy," Chippendale type, Maldynado.) Combining humor, action, a number of gruesome scenes, and a few twists I didn't see coming, this story kept my interest throughout; the only times I stopped reading was when I had to go to bed! Definitely worth your money! I'm off to buy the next in the series, and if it's anything like this one, I'll keep on buying! :-)
  • 100 Things You Can Do, To Change Your Life on Jan. 05, 2012

    I decided to take a try on this book because it sounded interesting. I do suggest the writer pick up a grammar and/or punctuation book to learn how to use commas, because he uses too many of them, and usually in the wrong places. However, that doesn't seriously detract from what he's trying to accomplish. This is basically a list of things you can do to improve your life. What I like about it is the writer talks to you in a very folksy, friendly way; this is not some hot-shot guru who promises all sorts of things and doesn't deliver anything. Some of these 100 things are obvious, but sometimes we need to read this stuff again and again, just so it can get etched into our brains. (I know that's true for me. :-)) He also sprinkles in some positive, interesting quotes from well-known (and not as well known) people throughout history, like John Kennedy, for example. I *did* pick up a few things from this book, because I like the writer's down-to-earth style and sensibilities. It's now a part of my small self-help ebook collection.
  • Reality Creation 101 on Jan. 05, 2012

    This is one fantastic self-help book! I've been on a self-help ebook kick lately, as I know my life isn't the way I want it to be; suffice to say there are too many debts and not enough income, and my work isn't exactly loads of fun. Here's a quote from near the end of the book that describes it perfectly, "This is not a think positive and become rich book. This is a book on mastery, helping you to master your own inner domain in order to create whatever you want." You might still make a ton of dough using Mr. Pinckley's ideas and exercises...but it's not the be all and end all of what he's trying to help you accomplish. He looks at the whole person, your dreams, your aspirations as to job, your health, your relationships. Does he provide anecdotes and stories like other manifestation type books (think The Secret)? Sure, usually using himself and the things he did wrong in the past to show you what NOT to do/say/feel. But because he provides you with real help - not just stories, not just anecdotes - because he provides you with tools, you have a better chance of manifesting what you REALLY want. And I think it's starting to help me already. I found out this morning about someone who has lost their job (not very nice, but she expected something like this might happen), and I will be taking over a portion of what she's been doing. I spoke to my boss, and she's indicated that this might go permanent, although not right away...which is fine, and it's something I've been looking for. The Universe will decide when/if the right time is. I also had an interview not that long ago for a different job, and again, if that happens to come through because the Universe decides it's right for me...I will pounce on it. Since I'm a self pubber, I also decided to concentrate on garnering more reviews for those books I've uploaded. I saw something about someone who has a blog (just started up) and is willing to do a review of my first in a series. I pounced on that because I decided this could be the start of something...I just have to keep meditating and doing the other things Mr. Pinckley has suggested and see what happens. So there are 2 things that lead me to hope and joy. The thing here is, though, that you can't just sit and visualize stuff (although he suggests visualization, too) - you have to take ACTION, like I did, by going after things that come on your radar. Although visualization, meditation, the other tools Mr. Pinckley describes will steer you in the right direction, without taking action as you're doing these things, you won't realize what you *really* want in your life. And don't you want to realize what you really want? Who wouldn't? Joy and prosperity in your life is within your grasp, if you take this book to heart. Peace.
  • Consequences: A Retrieval Artist Novel on Jan. 21, 2012
    (no rating)
    If you're not into hard SF, this might be the ticket for you, and it combines both SF and mystery in a satisfying way. Miles Flint, former Moon detective, is now a Retrieval Artist, someone who specializes in finding those who have Disappeared; the Disappeared are those who've gone into hiding usually because of committing crimes (sometimes unwittingly) against space aliens. In this case, a judge and his wife, a doctor, hire Miles to find their daughter, who supported the rebels on an alien planet, even joining up with the rebels in their war. She's been pardoned, and so she is persuaded to go with Miles, who takes her back to her parents. In a gruesome scene, all three are murdered. But by whom? And why? Miles feels guilty, and decides to track down the killer or killers - on his own dime. We also get to meet up with Detective DeRicci again, who has become a minor celebrity of sorts, for her "heroism" in the prior novel... I've become a major fangirl with this series, because it combines soft SF, mystery, and political intrique. Ms. Rusch has a deft hand at weaving all three strands into this tale, with twists and turns abounding in a fascinating - and believable - way. Did I mention I'm a fangirl of this series? :-)
  • The Master Manifestor Program - 10 Steps to Transform Your Dreams into Reality on Feb. 01, 2012

    I have another manifesting book, Reality Creation 101, and while that is a VERY good book, I wondered if there was something out there that would bring me even further along in my manifesting. This is that book, at least for me. Dr. Nielsen has anecdotes throughout the book - but it's for her son, and she shows, through several steps, how she manifested her son to get better (to talk well, etc.), and it's helpful to see how she used her own words (do-as-I-say and do-as-I-do). Yes, Reality Creation 101 does the same thing, but it seemed more special, somehow (probably because she was talking about her own young child). She also gives me ideas as to how to bring your vision to manifest. A Vision Collage, cleaning the mess in your house and where you work...it all works together to bring your vision to reality. Now, as I write this, I haven't yet finished the book, but I've already seen some interesting things happen within days of starting in with Dr. Nielsen's ideas. (She also advocates taking action, the same as Reality 101, so these books make great virtual bookends. :-)) So if you think your manifesting is stuck and don't know what else to do, try this book, and see if it makes a difference. :-)
  • Paloma: A Retrieval Artist Novel on Feb. 12, 2012

    Another fantastic novel in the Retrieval Artist series. In this one, Miles Flint receives emergency alarms from Paloma, his mentor. But by the time he arrives at Paloma's apartment, it's too late: She's been murdered. But by whom? His first thought is to get aboard Paloma's ship, the Dove, and see if she left any clues there. She has - complete with hologram informing Miles he has inherited her estate. Which angers at least one member of a certain law firm... This was fast paced and gripping, but as is typical with KKR, the human element is right there throughout the story, this time between DeRicci and a certain detective (not Miles). And you have to feel for Miles as well; though he starts out distressed and upset by Paloma's murder, his emotions are torn in different direction after finding out about Paloma's hidden past. Where Paloma was a peripheral character, she is fully fleshed out here...and her past is not exactly covered in sweetness and light. The series continues to be fascinating and strong. But don't begin with this story; you'll be confused. Start with The Disappeared and check Ms. Rusch's site for the order you should read them in. If you're like me, you won't be disappointed. :-)
  • The Possession of Paavo Deshin: A Retrieval Artist Short Novel on July 11, 2012

    Although it's not necessary to read this short novel, it will add an extra dimension to the next regular-length novel, Anniversary Day. (At least you'll be in the know when Ms. Rusch mentions Paavo and his father briefly in Anniversary.) Paavo Deshin is an extremely intelligent but very strange boy; including the fact that he sees ghosts. When he mentions seeing them yet again at school for brainiac kids, his mother hits the roof over how they managed to infiltrate the school without tripping any systems, the headmistress goes to work on getting her security people to figure out how that could have happened. When they can't come up with anything, she turns to (you guessed it)...Miles Flint. While the mother seems to be compassionate, the father is anything but, and there's a hint at some criminality in his past...and maybe he's still at it... He does try to do the right thing with Paavo because, deep down, he does love the child, so he's not just one dimensional. Ms. Rusch packs a lot of emotion into her stories, and this one does not disappoint. There's enough of a twist here to keep you engrossed to the very end.
  • Anniversary Day: A Retrieval Artist Novel on July 11, 2012

    Yet another fantastic book in the Retrieval Artist series. Anniversary Day sounds like 9/11 in the U.S. (and the way this ends reminded of me of 9/11, as I watched live when the 2nd plane hit the 2nd of the Twin Towers in NYC...). Anyway, a bomb devastated one section of Armstrong on the Moon. Ms. Rusch takes us back to that day - talked about fairly briefly in a prior Retrieval Artist novel - to bring to light an event that was happening just as the bomb went off. Det. Nyquist is trying to talk some sense into a woman with a knife, even as his back up, Det. Palmette, decides to come into the kitchen to see what's going on/what Nyquist is saying. The woman with the knife attacks Palmette, and then the bomb does its thing. Everything goes to hell, with the lights going off, smoke and soot all around, and just a general not knowing where to go or what to do. Nyquist decides he has to save Palmette, since this is her first case, and it's well known he hasn't been too good with partners (others usually quitting or ending up dead), so he thinks it's time to actually do something good for one of his partners. Flash forward many years, to the 4th anniversary of the bombing, and Nyquist is thinking that maybe he did the wrong thing. Seems Palmette is doing some strange, not so police-like things, although she's no longer a detective. She is, however, assigned to a position that decides on the disposition of abandoned ships that have sat in dock sometimes for decades. Suffice to say that if attacks on some government officials were unleashed by those responsible for 9-11, how would we have felt? Devastated? Uncaring? This is a very long installment in the series, and while Flint and his daughter, Talia, have their time in this, I was most impressed with Nyquist, and now see him as a necessary character in the continuation of this series. He's tough, rugged, won't take crap from anyone, yet...he has a certain sensitivity with certain people. He's quite likeable. Yes, as I stated above, Flint is there, all worried about his daughter, and when the attacks are at a fever pitch, DeRicci asks Flint and Talia to come help with some computer stuff, as her own assistant is freaking out (due to some behind-the-scenes carryings on with her assistant and a government official), and can't do her job. But it's Nyquist who's the star in this one, and fittingly, he has the last say in this book, as he digs into Palmette's background, wondering why the police overlooked certain things in that background... Stellar story. Easily the best in the series so far.
  • What Fluffy Knew on Aug. 06, 2012

    Fluffy is a cat that is cared for by owners that treat her like a princess or a queen - and Fluffy knows it. Her domain consists of a few other cats too, two of whom drive her crazy with their antics. Then Fluffy's life goes haywire when something invades her domain...some tiny aliens that the human beings look askance at, for a little while anyway. Until those little aliens start attacking cats. So how will Fluffy get rid of these horrible aliens? This short story is not all sweetness and light because it's about a cat. I was actually startled by what happens in this story. Not that I was expecting sweetness and light, but egad! Because it startled me so much (or despite it), I had to know the ending. You're mostly seeing events from Fluffy's perspective, with the occasional aside or two from the humans involved. Fluffy comes off as resourceful and smart, and if you have a cat in your life, you already know that :-). Just get by that somewhat gruesome scene, and you'll enjoy the story.
  • The Secret Lives of Cats on Aug. 28, 2012

    This is a fascinating mystery that involves cats and cameras. Lots of cats, lol. I bought this because I've been on a cat story kick lately, and I wasn't disappointed. What I also love about The Secret Lives of Cats is the hero is not some studly guy. He's a bit of a loner, stutters, and bought his house by writing non fiction - on physics, yet! Talk about unusual, and it was so nice to get into his head and see where he was going with the cats and cameras thing. The murder mystery even leads to a whole new life for Homer, one he never anticipated... There's also a bonus story, Scrawny Pete, that was also worth reading. The milieu reminded me of the old camera snapping newspapermen of 1930s movies. Scrawny Pete, the cat, figures in by helping the protagonist in an off-the-wall, funky way. Both are more than worth your money and reading time. Enjoy!
  • Blowback: A Retrieval Artist Novel on Dec. 13, 2012

    Another superb book in the Retrieval Artist series. This is the latest - at this time - of Ms. Rusch's Retrieval Artist series. It's 6 months after the Anniversary Day bombings (think 9/11), and everyone on the Moon is nervous, thinking that another attack is imminent. But so far, nothing has happened. Noelle DiRicci, the top security person on the Moon (and Flint's former partner in the Armstrong Police Force), also believes an attack on the Moon is imminent, but she has no facts to back that up - just a general intuitive feeling. Meanwhile, Miles Flint, who has been helping Noelle in the investigation, is frustrated. He feels that there are too many disparate elements investigating the bombings so that nothing is getting done. There is no central database or person to gather all the information that HAS come to light, and Miles decides to be that clearinghouse, as it were, and to use whatever means - and whoever he can find (whether on the right side of the law or not) to finally find out who targeted the Moon and why. An absolute page turner that will have you on edge the entire time. Will the Moon escape further bombings or will some of the domes be destroyed? You'll have to read to find out!
  • Mistletoe'd! on Dec. 20, 2012

    What a fantastic find! (Altho I have to thank Kristine Kathryn Rusch for alerting me on her website to this book.) You get 3 novellas, all with a Christmas theme. The first one, *Puddings, Pastries, & Thou* takes place in the early 1800s in England. Vivian Ambrose is a poor relation of the Twitchens (a cousin a few times removed or something), who has devoted the last 9 years of her young life to taking care of an older relative of hers. As such, she's missed out on a lot of social functions she might have attended. Since she's poor and without a husband, she has no choice but to be taken in by the Twitchens. And she's always hungry to boot, swiping food whenever she can. Along comes an eligible bachelor, a Mr. Brent, who has a recent checkered past. He's done something that's scandalous for its time; and Vivian finds she's attracted to him anyway. Does he feel the same way? It's a romance, so what do you think? :-) What I liked about this story was the humor derived from Vivian's hunger - not in a malicious way at all - and the understanding from Penelope, the Twitchens' daughter, who goes out of her way to pretty up Vivian. Penelope could have been just a stereotypical SOB, but Ms. Cach chose to go this route instead. Lovely! The second story, *A Midnight Clear* is set in the 1870s in Vermont, and has a bit of magic in it. Catherine has just returned from a tour through the upper crust of New York City with her aunt. She's nearsighted but refuses to get spectacles to see better. Until she receives a gift of one - from someone. This is soon after a supremely handsome man from New York City shows up and insinuates himself into the family, at her side. Her younger sister wishes she would see this man is not for her; that the man who owns a business in town - and is kind and generous as well - is really the man for her. But is she the one who sent the glasses, the magical glasses? Let's just say the spirit of Christmas sent them along in answer to Catherine's sister's wish... Another superb, touching story from Ms. Cach. The little touches of a winter in Vermont really add to the sweetness of this tale. I wasn't sure I would enjoy this as much as the first story, but I did! The third story, *Return to Sender* was the one I *really* didn't think I would like. It's a contemporary romance, and although it sounded like fun, I thought, how could it possibly top the other two I just read. It doesn't. But it has its own charm. And sweetness. And humor. Tessa is a university professor, into vintage clothes and costuming. Her roommate, Lauren, has invited her Scottish cousin, Ian, to bunk with them for a few days. A few days before Christmas, Lauren rushes off when her sister goes into labor; she asks Tessa to take Ian to the airport. Of course, Tessa forgets, and there's a mad dash to wash up and get out the door and to the airport...where of course the flight is missed! (If you've ever seen the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is trying to get her pain-in-the-butt boyfriend to the airport...well, it's like that! :-)) Tessa has a wild several hours of sex with Ian just before Christmas Eve...with the stipulation that Ian go out of her life forever. He's never to call her, email her, or ask his cousin Lauren how Tessa is doing. Okay, so it's not quite as sweet as the other two, but what this story has is a certain charm and a boatload of humor. Ms. Cach was quite a find for me (especially as I'm not really into romance stories), and I hope to buy more of her stories in the future.