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Smashwords book reviews by njmom3

  • My True Essence on May 30, 2011
    (no rating)
    This book highlights a very important issue - breast cancer and its effects on those who are diagnosed and those who love them. On those who survive and those who don't. The story takes place within the context of a church community. Although it is Christian fiction, most religious references are to prayers not specific Christian teachings. Thus, it can easily be read regardless of beliefs. Many other elements are added into the story, some of the unnecessarily so. I wish that the author had kept the focus on the central theme and developed that further with greater depth to the characters. I did love the ending message though - it is not our bodies that define who we are but something beyond that that is our "true essence."
  • Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide on Aug. 18, 2011

    Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide is a story of a journey - physical and emotional. Jill Homer is an ultra-cyclist. The Great Tour Divide is an individual race from Canada to the Mexico border - over 2,700 miles. This book is the story of Jill Homer's journey during this race. I have not followed her blog. Nor am I familiar with the world of ultra-athletes. The story left me in awe of the courage these athletes show and the challenges they choose to face. It is inspiring and amazing. I have no intention of following in her footsteps, but the lessons are there for all of us. To quote the book, "My only real investment in my future were the steps I took toward it - everything else was just a dream, a plan, or a fear." The book did not get five stars because not really understanding cycling, I did find myself skimming some of the descriptions. Or maybe it was just because I wanted to find out what came next. I wanted her to succeed and couldn't wait to find out if she did. *** Reviewed for member giveaway ***
  • Stress? Find Your Balance on Aug. 22, 2011

    A good reminder of the basic techniques we can all use to manage the stress in our lives. Techniques such as meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and others. The book does point to the author's website, seminars, and audio CDs which would bother me. However, the book then goes on to present the techniques stating that they can be followed by the directions in the book alone. I appreciate that the book can stand alone. The ideas in this book are not new. However, I can always use a fresh reminder. I will keep this book in my portfolio of other similar books. *** Reviewed for LibraryThing member giveaway ***
  • Children of the Fog on Aug. 24, 2011

    Children of the Fog was a page turner. I felt for the mother (Sadie) and went through her anguish and her struggles. Each time, it thought things were about to be resolved, there was a new twist. This book had so many levels to it - facts as the police dealt with the case, marriage, a parent's worst nightmare, struggles with our own internal demons, and ultimately beliefs. Each led the reader through an emotional rollercoaster that Sadie went through. It did not get five stars because at times, it seemed like two distinct stories - the story of Sam's abduction and the story of his parent's marriage. Each was almost a separate story tied by the main character. But overall still a great story. *** Reviewed for LibraryThing member giveaway ***
  • Ox Cart Angel on Nov. 17, 2011

    Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/ox-cart-angel.html Ox Cart Angel is a book set in the 1800s in the Dakota Territory. It tells the story of Claire and her father as they decide to relocate from the town of Pembina to St. Paul. It is the story of their journey as they attempt to reach the caravan of traders that has gone before and then as they journey alone with an ox cart full of photography equipment and their old ox Bone Bag. Ox Cart Angel is also a story of racism, prejudice, loss, and ultimately survival. Claire's father is a French Canadian and her mother is a Native American, making Claire a Metis. The book talks about the racism and prejudice she faces both for being a Native American and for being of mixed parentage. Claire has also lost her mother to small pox and feels the loss again as they are forced to leave behind her home and possessions. Ultimately, the book is also about survival and moving forward as they face adversity after adversity on their journey. The story creates a vivid picture of Claire and her father and of the land through which they travel. It pulls the reader into their world, feeling their emotions, and rejoicing and crying with them. The ending sends a strong message about survival and sets the groundwork for the sequel. Can't wait! ***Reviewed for LibraryThing Member Giveaway Program***
  • Not Quite Ordinary on Dec. 20, 2011

    Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/12/not-quite-ordinary.html Not Quite Ordinary is a book targeted toward the young adult market. This is the first book in what is to be the Darkness Nears Trilogy. It is the story of sixteen year old Sarah, who has spent life feeling as if she is ordinary with nothing special about her and feeling like she is not good enough. At sixteen, she discovers that she is a powerful witch descended from a long line of witches and wizards. Of course, there is a prophecy and a battle of good versus evil. Her confidence and self-esteem grows as her belief in herself grows. A positive message. The world of witches and wizards is a popular setting for books for the age group and a great place for imagination to take flight. However, some concerns about the book raise questions as to its suitability. First, the book ties its beliefs in witchcraft to the Wiccan way of life. Tying religious beliefs to a book aimed at young people is a challenging task. The book could still tell a story - the same story - without grounding it in a specific belief system. Second, Sarah states revenge as a motivator and a satisfactory end result of certain extreme actions. (The cryptic tone here attempts to avoid spoilers). That does not seem to be an appropriate message to send to young readers. It will be interesting to see what direction the other two books take. Hopefully, they will focus on the positive image of accomplishing great things if you believe in yourself. ***Reviewed for LibraryThing Member Giveaway Program***
  • The MacLosers on Sep. 11, 2012

    Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-maclosers.html The MacLosers is the story of the Diobair family - Roger and Samantha and their children Alex and Jess. Roger is an out-of-work architect who can't seem to escape the disasters of his last job. The financial and emotional troubles of being out of work are piling up. Then, out of the blue, they receive an inheritance - a village in Scotland. Being out of options, the family moves to a dilapidated castle with an interesting cast of village characters. Some friendly, and some definitely not. People expect Roger to quit; yet he does not. Along the way is a feud with a neighboring village, some long forgotten history, and a winner take all wager. All the makings of a fun tale. Overall, the book was a very quick, very easy read. It was a fun story. Throughout, my thought was that with some revisions and editing to make the language and content more kid-friendly, this would make a fun children's movie - the tried and true plot family in trouble to a family taking on a new adventure to a family coming together. *** Reviewed for Library Things Member Giveaway Program ***