Jenn’s Review of Confessions: A Memoir by Jodie Rhodes

I just finished a relatively quick read, Confessions: A Memoir by Jodie Rhodes. This was one of the free books I received from Ebookfling. Well, I must say I’m glad it was a freebie, because I’m pretty sure I would have been disappointed if I had paid for it. I’m not saying it didn’t have its redeeming qualities, but it did little to keep my attention.

I’m sure my less than stellar review of this book will have absolutely no impact, so I’d like to post it. I want to make sure I’m not only posting about the books that I love…and I’m only one opinion.

Whereas the book started with what seemed to be an interesting concept, I got lost in her retelling of her numerous jobs and failed relationships ~ mostly with married men. It got confusing, especially when she would jump back and forth in her timeline. I also found myself getting frustrated when she would forebode her failure/bad decisions before she told her stories. I found myself speed reading just to finish the book. I got bored.

I guess I should find it endearing that she offered up opportunities for fledgling writers to submit their work to her as an editor, but I found it misplaced.

I am disappointed that I didn’t fully enjoy the book. The author seems like a really smart, strong and savvy business women…although I looked back and there was not one passage that I highlighted. That to me is a sign of a really good book, knowing I walked away taking a little something with me. On to my next read…

Jenn’s Review of the Great Gatsby

The cover of the first edition of The Great Ga...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am so glad that I reread The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald…and to think, this time I didn’t need Cliff Notes…and I chose to write about it vs. being forced to by my high school English teacher.

Whereas this book seemed to have a slow start for me, it wasn’t long before I was sucked into the characters’ strife. I remembered nothing of the plot from when I read it almost 20years ago, so I didn’t recognize that every single action taken by Gatsby was in a desperate attempt to win back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan.

I found it quite sad. Gatsby had built up this tragic love affair in his mind and let it perpetuate over 5years. There must have been moments…when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

Love was his motivation for his frantic climb up the rungs of the social ladder. Once he got to the top, countless strangers latched on to him and his new-found notoriety. They were just as eager to talk behind his back as they were to take advantage of his generosity…and free champagne.

F.Scott Fitzgerald was just as much an artist as he was an author. His elaborate vocabulary painted such a vivid picture that the reader feels they are in the midst of the story. I loved his description of Daisy…For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.

One can also palpate the critique of what he portrays as the financially privileged…with their shallowness and lack of social responsibility. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…

I found the narrator, Nick, to be a little on the weak side. He didn’t seem to have much substance at all. I’d imagine that the author did that on purpose…maybe he didn’t want to overshadow the other main characters. He was just there to create that bridge between Gatsby and the Buchanans.

I’d recommend that anyone who read it in high school reread it. It’s amazing how much more perspective you gain with life experience. If you never read it, it’s worth crossing it off your “classic” bucket list.

Guido’s comparison of The Hunger Games: Book vs. the Movie

I would love to introduce Guido as our youngest book reviewer on BBB. Guido is just 10 years old! His mother, an English teacher and one of my best friends from college, finally let him read The Hunger Games this summer. Of course, after reading the book he wanted to go see the movie. As a way to persuade his mom, he offered to write a compare/contrast essay for the book vs. the movie. He knew which strings to pull and it obviously worked as his mom let him watch the movie and here is his wonderful review! Way to go Guido!!

We all know that a lot of books turn into movies. Some books that get turned into movies are famous like Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games. Books get turned into movies by how good they are. Movies usually change some parts, to give them a kick in action. A kick in action gets good reviews and more fans for the book and the movie. In the book The Hunger Games, the districts of Panem, 1 boy and 1 girl will go into an arena. For a fight to the death with 23 dead and one victor, the government forces the kids to die. The book is better but the movie is also really good.

The book has some differences from the movie. In the book Katniss Everdeen gets a mockingjay pin from a girl named Madge, the daughter of Mayor Undereese. This is very important because when Katniss goes into the hunger games her mockingjay pin becomes her symbol, the symbol of rebellion. Further, the book doesn’t show the game makers (the people who control the Hunger Games) because they didn’t need to. They didn’t need to because the book was Katniss Everdeen’s thoughts and it kept on saying what will the game makers do next. Furthermore, the book goes WAY slower than the movie so you get attached to a little 12 year old girl named Rue who is like Katniss’s little sister Prim. Rue is really important to the story because Katniss and her get bonding time and when Rue dies Katniss covers and decorates her in flowers. It adds a bond between the districts.

The movie changed some things from the book. In the movie Katniss gets her pin in a black market in her district, and gives it to her sister Prim. However in the book she gets it from a girl named Madge. In addition, they showed game makers to show that people ran the hunger games. They did this because in the movie it wasn’t Katniss’s thoughts but yet in the book it was. To show people that people run the hunger games. Further, the movie goes faster so you really don’t get as attached to anyone like Rue, so when she dies we’re not really as sad as we are in the book.

In both the book and the movie. Katniss gets a mocking jay pin. And it is really important because in later books District 13 uses it as a sign of rebellion. In addition, Katniss is called “Katniss Everdeen girl on fire”. It is very important because that’s how people notice her and pay attention so she can get sponsors and she becomes a victor. Furthermore, the Peeta, Katniss, Gale love triangle is in both. It’s important because Katniss can survive with the excuse of she loves Peeta and Gale is important in later books because he kisses her and protects her.

In conclusion, the book is better than the movie. The book has more action and adventure. The book has a better flow to the groove of the hunger games. Books are often better than the movie. It’s always better because you experience more from the book than the movie.

                vs.                

What do you think? Do you agree with Guido? I sure do! 

Jennifer M (Founder of BBB) reviews The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Ever wonder why you automatically seemed to check Facebook these days without making a conscious decision to do so? Or eat off your child’s food plate despite the fact you’re not hungry? Or ever desire to change a lifestyle: develop an excessive habit or lose the bad habit of being chronically late?

This book addresses all that and more. I bought this originally to help myself understand why someone I am very close to is struggling  so much with change– despite their best intentions it just seemed like they couldn’t get out of some patterns and I wanted to explore why that may be.

What ended up happening is I found this amazing book– highly reviewed and just out this year– that has now helped me sort through some of my own routines and gave me a better understanding of myself and my friend.

It takes you through in plain mans English and stories, the neuro-science behind habit formation, how marketing people use it on you, how those techniques can be used at home or in business, and how to empower yourself to mold your habits into what you want them to be.

I highly recommend this in paper form— as it’s the type of thing you may highlight and make notes on that you may go back as reference later… And kindle and book have those features but they are cumbersome.

A must read non-fiction (and I do not say that often)

Enjoy and please comment your feedback post read!

Also available at Barnes & Noble/Nook

Lisa’s review of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

I just finished reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller. In this book he compares the living of a good life to the writing of a story. Our lives are a blank page and we decide in our actions (or lack thereof) the story we will write.

As this idea comes to him and as he forms it more deeply, he puts it into action in his own life. Literally. He gets off the couch, gets in shape, and goes on many adventures, including riding his bicycle across the country with a group to raise money for a good cause. And in doing so finds he gains so much more than he could have imagined.

He talks about the difficulty of life. And how there is value in things not always being easy. It is in those tough struggles that we learn and grow and improve. “The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.”

I love this idea. He writes, “People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.” We are the writers of our own stories. And when the final page is turned, what do we want the story we leave behind to say about us?

Also available at Barnes & Noble/Nook

To hear more thoughts from Lisa, please visit her blog at runcookquilt

Jenn’s review of the Dark Monk by Oliver Pötzsch

For the most part, I truly enjoyed The Dark Monk: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale. It falls into my favorite genre, Historical Fiction. The author bases many of his characters and locations on true people and places. He reports in the afterword that he is the descendant to numerous hangmen including Jakob Kuisl, who apparently had a daughter named Magdalena. He also includes detailed descriptions of the historical sites that played parts in his story, just in case you find yourself in Germany and want to take a tour. I appreciate when authors do this; it really helps to piece everything together for me.

I especially enjoyed the lead characters: Jakob Kuisl (the hangman), Magdalena (the hangman’s daughter) and Simon (the local physician and “boyfriend” to Magdalena). I am glad that I got to know the characters well in the first novel, as the author doesn’t focus on them as much in this story. You can appreciate their connections to each other as their stories intertwine, but the author takes them on separate adventures throughout the book. I would have liked to see Magdalena and Simon’s relationship grow some more, but maybe the author didn’t want to distract from the main storyline.

I was also captivated by the relationship that Jakob and Magdalena had with the town’s characters. I found it intriguing how they could be so shunned and feared by members of the town, yet they run to them when they need cures for their illnesses. Everyone looks down on their family until they are in dire need of their medical skills and knowledge. Even knowing this, you still see their characters evolve. Jakob, for instance, seems to become more empathetic and fair. He won’t let a criminal suffer at the hands of his torture if he feels that person has shown penance or has been wronged by society.

As in books like the The Da Vinci Code (which I also loved), the author takes you on a tour of churches and other religious areas to investigate relics, and how those relics lead to the next clue of the riddle created by the Knights of the Templar. I did find that I really had to pay attention and often had to reread sections as I tried to keep all the sordid details straight. I found myself getting the rival characters mixed up.

In stories where there is friction and discord in the church it always amazes me how the antagonists, often members of religious sects, are able to justify murder and crimes against humanity when it was in the name of God. It really makes you think.

Whereas parts of the story were a little dry and the ending was somewhat anticlimactic, I enjoyed trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Also like the Da Vinci Code, I think this series would make a great movie.  I am looking forward to the next installment of the Hangman’s Daughter series: The Beggar King. I’ll usually take a break between historical fiction books, but this one will be on my upcoming list for sure.

Also available for the Nook (Barnes & Noble)