What Stacy Recently Finished Reading:

Blurb:

Angela Darrah is a pro when it comes to pitching client stories to the media. But when she suspects her client is exploiting immigrant workers, she’s forced to face her own prejudices and to examine herself in ways she never imagined.

Having landed a career-making assignment at one of Iowa’s largest poultry packing plants, Angela is stymied when the CEO who hired her resists her advice. Worse, he defers her to his right-hand man who keeps Angela off balance as he alternately supports and obstructs her efforts. When Angela finds an unexpected ally in a handsome Salvadoran plant supervisor, her professionalism wavers in the face of undeniable attraction.

As Angela immerses herself in the company and the town, she is faced with challenges similar to the company’s immigrant workers. How will she navigate a new system and succeed in the face of obstacles and injustices she doesn’t understand? Then, when she discovers corporate actions that are unethical, possibly illegal, Angela must confront the conflict between her duty to her client and her growing passion to fight injustice. Ultimately, she must decide: What is she willing to sacrifice to help someone else? Simple Truth is a thought-provoking story intertwined with risk, retaliation, and reward.

My Review:

4 **** stars

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Simple Truth is a fictional story that focuses on issues that impact everyone in some way. Angela Darrah works for the largest P.R. firm in Iowa and is handed a big client that results in her getting promoted. The firm she works for has been hired to help with Barton Meat Packing’s image as they have had to deal with a recall on chicken that some people got sick eating. She goes totally prepared to be the best they could have asked for, wanting to impress her bosses and further her career. Once there though, things start to unravel. For one, she is faced with confronting prejudices and assumptions (some she didn’t realize she’d had) and rethinking stereotypes that are common about immigrants, illegals and other races. At Barton Packing she starts to see things that aren’t ethical, or that she questions about what the truth is and is torn between doing her job and what is right. Add to that, she begins to feel an attraction to the plant supervisor who is El Salvadoran (he feels likewise), but she can’t act on her feelings because he is part of the client company. As she learns of the living conditions that some of the immigrants have to live with, she becomes aware of one little boy’s situation in particular (who happens to be one of the ‘border children’ that DACA was so recently in the new about) and is moved to try to help him. Her eyes are opened as to what true integrity is– that professional integrity and personal are not separate, but integrated, and it matters not if one’s personal convictions are pure and noble if no voice is put to them. Basically, if one doesn’t stand for something, they will stand for nothing.
The book had a good message, and caused the reader to reflect and meditate about those very issues on a personal level. Examination is good. : )
I found the book well written, with a good flow and pace and nicely edited with no typos. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review…. thank you!
 

Blurb:

In the spirit of the New York Times bestselling A Man Called Ove, this is the heartwarming story of a man who decides to end his life before he’s too old—but then begins to reconsider when he faces complications from the world around him.

In an effort to delay the frailty and isolation that comes with old age, psychiatrist Millard Salter decides to kill himself by the end of the day—but first he has to tie up some loose ends. These include a tête-à-tête with his youngest son, Lysander, who at forty-three has yet to hold down a paying job; an unscheduled rendezvous with his first wife, Carol, whom he hasn’t seen in twenty-seven years; and a brief visit to the grave of his second wife, Isabelle. Complicating this plan though is Delilah, the widow with whom he has fallen in love in the past few months. As Millard begins to wrap up his life, he confronts a lifetime of challenges during a single day—and discovers that his family has a big surprise for him as well.

My Thoughts:

4 ****stars

After looking at multiple reviews for Millard Salter’s Last Day, it seems to be one of those that you either really like or not so much. I am of the former group. I have read other books written by Jacob Appel and have always enjoyed his writing, his off the wall perspective and quirky humor, and this one was no exception.
Millard Salter is a psychiatrist who is having his 75th birthday and after watching loved ones die slow painful deaths, he decides he wants to choose when he will pass before he develops something and starts suffering. He doesn’t want his family to remember him wasting away but enjoying life. Add to that, he feels like a relic of the past– all of the fabric of his memories (landmarks, songs, celebrities) are long gone and anyone that would remember them (at least that he knows) is long gone too. He has it all planned out, and during the course of his final day, he has the most calamitous experiences ever! He wants to be remembered as a hero and prays for a mugger or some other criminal he can stop in the process of committing a crime and on cue, trips would-be mugger while the hood is running away only to find the muggee and others yelling at him that he had interrupted a film sequence. While at lunch with his lazy layabout son (that he blames himself for not guiding him better) they are hit with shrapnel from an explosion across the street. In his office he ends up being mauled by a lost lynx, and when visiting his wife’s grave he finds someone else has recently been buried in his spot. Not to mention the run-ins he has with crazy co-workers and sad patients. But throughout this final day, he starts to wonder if it is such a good idea? Maybe his wayward son needs him around to push him in the right direction? Maybe a miracle will happen with Delilah (the woman he has fallen in love with who is truly dying) and her life will be prolonged? Perhaps he can still help some patients? Maybe the world still needs a dose of him so that they don’t forget the things of the past?
I found the book marvelously written and edited– no typos. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review–thank you!

Blurb:

Does your life feel out of balance? Hectic? Too busy? Did you set goals for your life once upon a time but now find them too far-off, improbable, even unattainable? I know that life. I lived it. My wife’s health was at rock bottom. We were both disappointed in our marriage, and my relationships were unfulfilling. I was nearing burnout at work. And my spiritual life felt like it was covered with a thick layer of dust. Then, everything changed. This is the story of my escape from an anxious, overwhelming life to a balanced life, a happier life, a more meaningful life. It has become, quite honestly, the life I always dreamed of having. What do you think it would take for you to move into the life of your dreams? For me, it took much less than I expected.

My thoughts:

4 ****stars

Life Reimagined is one man’s true story of how he was able to find balance in his career, family and his spiritual life. Mr. Ranck’s life had been very career oriented and he had specific goals he wished to achieve by a certain age (income, etc.), but when his wife developed a serious illness and nearly died, he reassessed his goals. He saw his original plan not so much a priority in the end– what would it matter if he had achieved a six figure income if his wife was gone, or his sons grown and distant? In this memoir, Mr. Ranck details the process of how he restored order to his life and set definite boundaries between work, family, and made more time for his personal spiritual life, and how you can too. He found that by working harder at work, eliminating work-related messages, etc. when at home allowed him more quality time with his family, and improved his focus when at work thus enabling him to actually do better while there. He also explains how taking planned vacations and journaling helped in the transformation from stressed out to relaxed and enjoying all aspects of his life. He admits that the process was not easy, as a lot of the habits, such as tackling work emails at home, were hard to break, but he says was well worth it.
I didn’t find any typos or errors in the book and was pleased with that. I found it well written, well edited and very inspiring account of how he took back his life and became not only a better professional, but better husband and father as well. I would recommend this book to anyone to has been dealing with these very issues and wondered if it was possible to have a more normal relaxed life or had just resigned oneself to the crazy modern pace as a by-product of our modern life. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! 
 

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What Daisy Recently Finished Reading:

Blurb:

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever…

This book was originally a collection of blog posts that made up my theme for the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge, which lasts 26 days and covers each letter of the alphabet. My hoped-for goal, gentle readers and writers, is to teach you how not to write a book. From awful dialog to awkward foreshadowing, cartoonish villains and even more cartoonish heroes, useless details, too many details, plot that goes nowhere, and metaphor-laced drivel, there will be something to offend even the most seasoned writer/agent/editor/beta reader/long-suffering friend of an author who thinks they’ve seen it all. Take notes, learn, discuss, and most importantly–laugh.

Daisy’s Review:

5 *****stars

This short book, part paranormal romance and part nonfiction, is an easy A to Z guide on how NOT to write a book. Divided into 26 sections (one for each letter of the alphabet), each section focuses on a different element of writing that is commonly misused in literture. She demonstrates this by giving us examples of the worst novella ever written using ALL of these common writing errors.

I must say, this was certainly the very best horrible book I’ve ever read. The author points out common writing mistakes in such a concise, easy to understand manner, and she uses great examples that display what she means perfectly. This book is a must-read for any writer (or at least any writer who does not mind mature content, as this book has its share, although not without reason). Definitely a five star book; I learned a lot from it that will not only be helpful in writing my own book, but in properly reviewing the books of others by identifying these flaws.

 

Blurb:

Zachariah OHora’s distinctive retro art and kid-friendly humor take the stage in this story about accepting and celebrating differences.

Momo is coming to visit, and his cousins are SO excited! But even though Momo is a flying squirrel, he won’t fly for his cousin’s friends. Plus, his games are weird. He can’t even play hide and seek right! But when Momo’s cousins give his strange ways a chance, they realize that doing things differently can be fun…almost as much fun as making a new friend.

Fans of Peter Brown and Bob Shea will fall in love with Zachariah OHora’s bold artwork and hilarious characters.

Daisy’s Review:

4 ****stars

This is a cute children’s picture book about a flying squirrel who comes to visit his common squirrel cousins. He is unfamiliar with their kinds of games and their ways of life, and the cousins consider him weird because of his differences. The book teaches acceptance of differences to a young audience.

The pictures are very colorful and nice. My only complaint would be that the squirrels in the pictures do not look much like squirrels. Momo reminds me more of a beaver or a groundhog. Other than that, it was a cute book that I think children would enjoy either as a read-aloud book or an early reader. Four stars.

 

Blurb:

The world is falling apart. Terrorists spark a worldwide oil and gas crisis while imports grind to a halt. Europe and Britain are erupting into chaos as food runs out and desperate people take matters into their own hands.

As the government begins to seal off rioting parts of the city, Corporal Harry Miller takes an offered discharge to get his sister and her kids to safety. But he’s not fast enough. Trapped in the city with a rag-tag collection of ordinary citizens, Harry struggles to create a small pocket of stability – a place to ride out the coming confrontation between rioters and the Army, and save themselves from complete annihilation.

Daisy’s Review:

3 ***stars

This is a dystopian, possibly apocalyptic novel about what may happen in England in the not-too-far future. A cautionary tale, it depicts the importance of self-education and self-sufficiency, while seemingly scoffing at the ideas at the same time. Harold, an easygoing soldier turned ex-soldier, is made the natural leader of a small group of people who want only to survive the turbulence around them. Everywhere you see complete chaos. It’s civilians versus military, military versus civilians, and civilians versus civilians. Businesses (stores, breweries, gun clubs, etc.) are being looted and ransacked by desperate people. The criminal element runs roughshod over peaceful folks. In this mad world, will Harold and his group be able to escape the city unscathed?

The plot is good, and the depiction realistic. However, I found myself disliking the main character several times throughout the story. Even though he is portrayed as the tough-talking, good-willed “good guy”, he is in fact an atheist, a murderer, a philanderer, a liar, and a thief. None of the characters in the book were very likable, either, and everybody came off as needy idiots who needed to be led around and had no grasp of what it meant to really be self-sufficient. When the number one priority to forming a self-sufficient community was calling a brewer to join them, you know you have a problem.

The book has a lot of cursing in it which is not needed, and being written by a Brit, the book contains a whole lot of strange British slang (some vulgar) that was very confusing and hard to understand. I counted over 60 such words. I had to look up more than a few words, until I determined that there were just too many and stopped. But it really interfered with my enjoyment of it. I also did not like the fact that the story had no conclusive ending, and only asked you to read the sequel to find out what happens next. After making it through such a long book, I really wanted to see how it ended, so that was a disappointment. All things considered, I’d give the book three stars.

Daisy’s Review:

5 *****stars!

This is a nonfiction memoir-like account of how the author managed to turn a life full of mistaken priorities, stress, work overloads, and strained family relationships into a balanced, low-stress, thriving, family-centric life. He not only learned how to do this for himself, but he also wrote this book to show you how to implement some of the same strategies he used. What’s more is this book is very short, and a quick read that can easily fit into anybody’s busy schedule.

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