Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review - Going Home (#1), Surviving Home (#2), Escaping Home (#3) by A. American

 Going Home (Going Home, #1)Surviving Home  (Going Home, #2)Escaping Home  (Going Home, #3)

From Goodreads:

Going Home (#1) by A. American

When Morgan Carter’s car breaks down 250 miles from his home, he figures his weekend plans are ruined. But things are about to get much, much worse: the country’s power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored—if it ever will be. An avid survivalist, Morgan takes to the road with his prepper pack on his back.

During the grueling trek from Tallahassee to his home in Lake County, chaos threatens his every step but Morgan is hell-bent on getting home to his wife and daughters—and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Surviving Home (#2) by A. American

No electricity. No running water. No food. No end in sight. If life as you knew it changed in an instant, would you be prepared?
(note - I shortened the description as not to reveal any spoilers.)

Escaping Home (#3) by A. American

The author of Going Home and Surviving Home continues his riveting and action-packed survivalist series featuring Morgan Carter

(note - I shortened the description as not to reveal any spoilers.)

When TLC Book Tours asked if I was interested in reviewing a survivalist series, I was curious. I have enjoyed dystopian novels, but the setting of this series is more real - like it could happen today, right now, rather than in some distant future. I am not by any means a "prepper" but it is a topic that interests me. Since this is a series, I thought I may as well read all 3 books to get a better feel of the whole story.

The first book, Going Home, actually started out a bit confusing as the main character, Carter, was introduced (more to do with the sequence of events). It was also a bit tedious as a big list of survival items, including brand names and all that, that Carter counted out what to bring with him when "the thing" happened and he had to walk home (he was driving at the time). For someone not familiar with all the equipment, it almost made me put the book down since it was more telling, than showing. Now, don't get me wrong, I love all the details, but wish the first few chapters were rewritten a bit so that instead of listing out everything, we'd just come to know what is in his pack as the story unfolds, rather than read a gear catalog. While the list is handy, it may be better suited as a resource at the end of the book. Especially for those of us who haven't prepared, but got paranoid after reading this series, so that we have a list of things to consider to buy all in one place :)

Anyway, I am glad I didn't give up on the book, as the story picked up soon after. It was quite fast paced, and kept you engaged. You wanted to know if Carter made it home to his wife and three daughters. The characters he met along the journey home also added to the story. You felt like you get to know them.

Book 2 focused on what happened after he reached his home town, and Book 3, as the title suggested, talked about having to leave his home town.

When I was near the end of Book 3, I kept wondering how the story would end, especially since I only had a few pages left. I mean, it couldn't just go, Bang!  and the whole world went exploding right?! Now, I don't know why I assumed this was a trilogy (probably because trilogies are so popular nowadays - or are they still popular this year? Well they were last year...) but yeah, this is a more-than-3-books series, so there was no ending to the story yet. Sigh. I see that there 4th book on Goodreads, Forsaking Home. But I have no idea if it is the last book or not.

Overall, I enjoyed the series so far, though I think the story probably could be shortened a bit (first book was around 450 pages, second book was around 500 pages, and the 3rd one was just over 300 pages). I actually liked the first two books more (3.5 Stars) more than the 3rd (3 Stars), as the third book went into more of a conspiracy mode. Perhaps I was just disappointed that I didn't get to find out why it was all happening... maybe if I hadn't assumed this was a trilogy, I would have felt differently.

The author definitely have put some thoughts into this "what if" scenario (see bio below - I wouldn't be surprised if the author actually has all the equipment he mentioned in the books). Now I just feel like I need to go and buy a bunch of survival gear and food, and modify my house in preparation of "the thing"...

A. American has been involved in prepping and survival communities since the early 1990’s. An avid outdoorsman, he has a spent considerable time learning edible and medicinal plants and their uses as well as primitive survival skills. He currently resides in North Carolina on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest with his wife of more than twenty years and his three daughters.

Don't forget to check out reviews from the blog tours!

A. American’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, December 2nd:  She Treads Softly – Escaping Home
Tuesday, December 3rd:  The Blue Collar Prepper
Wednesday, December 4th:  The Apartment Prepper’s Blog
Friday, December 6th:  The Prepper Journal
Saturday, December 7th:  Back Door Survival
Monday, December 9th:  Florida Hillbilly
Monday, December 9th:   Being 5
Tuesday, December 10th:  Reviews from the Heart  - Going Home
Wednesday, December 11th:  The Weekend Prepper – Going Home
Thursday, December 12th:  Cheryl’s Book Nook
Friday, December 13th:  Reviews from the Heart Surviving Home
Monday, December 16th:  The Prepared Ninja
Wednesday, December 18th:  The Weekend Prepper – Surviving Home
Thursday, December 19th:  Reviews from the Heart – Escaping Home
Friday, December 20th:  Sweet Southern Home
Monday, December 23rd:  The Weekend Prepper Escaping Home
Thursday, December 26th:  Cerebral Girl in a Redneck Girl
Monday, December 30th:  Mental Foodie

Note - Receive all 3 books for free as part of the TLC tour in exchange for an unbiased review.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review - The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

The Boy Who Could See Demons: A Novel

The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

From Goodreads:
"I first met my demon the morning that Mum said Dad had gone." 

Alex Broccoli is ten years old, likes onions on toast, and can balance on the back legs of his chair for fourteen minutes. His best friend is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen. When his depressive mother attempts suicide yet again, Alex meets child psychiatrist Anya. Still bearing the scars of her own daughter's battle with schizophrenia, Anya fears for Alex's mental health and attempts to convince him that Ruen doesn't exist. But as she runs out of medical proof for many of Alex's claims, she is faced with a question: does Alex suffer from schizophrenia, or can he really see demons?

Since I've been so busy, I'm way, way behind on all the book news this year, so this book wasn't on my radar until I read a review about it on another blog. And she said this book is like this other book, "XYZ".

No, there isn't a book called XYZ, but I'm just calling it XYZ because if I told you, then it'd probably become a spoiler. Because, well, I was able to guess the ending about half way though the book.

But, if she didn't mention that this is similar to XYZ, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. And I am glad that I read this as it's one of the more memorable fictions I read this year!

See, so I am a bit torn on what to tell you about this book, as I don't want to ruin it for you. But you may not pick it up if you don't know if it is your type of book! So email me, if you really want to know what XYZ is :)

Anyway, the writing was really quite engaging and I finished it rather quickly despite my schedule. The characters were memorable. And you just want to keep reading to find out what happened. Though I have to say the ending was a little tedious and probably could be a bit more concise... I mean, let's say in a movie where the 2 leads finally got together - and they finally kissed after all the tension! And they kept on kissing and kissing and kissing... and THE END.


Now I appreciate an author who tied up loose ends, but this one was just a little too neat.

And I have to say, since the book is about a 5 yo boy, it impacted me more now than if I don't have my son. I mean, what if... what would I do?! Not that I wouldn't have enjoyed this book if I were child-free. Just that it made me think more for sure.

4 Stars (more like 4.25 I guess... would've been 4.5 if the ending was executed a bit differently - don't get me wrong, I like how it ends, but just wished it ended in a more climatic manner.)

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - The October List by Jeffery Deaver

The October List

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

From Goodreads:
Gabriela waits desperately for news of her abducted daughter.
At last, the door opens.But it's not the negotiators. It's not the FBI.It's the kidnapper.And he has a gun.
How did it come to this?
Two days ago, Gabriela's life was normal. Then, out of the blue, she gets word that her six-year-old daughter has been taken. She's given an ultimatum: pay half a million dollars and find a mysterious document known as the "October List" within 30 hours, or she'll never see her child again.
A mind-bending novel with twists and turns that unfold from its dramatic climax back to its surprising beginning, THE OCTOBER LIST is Jeffery Deaver at his masterful, inventive best.

I love Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme's series, but have only liked a couple of his stand-alone. So my expectation wasn't too high, but I just have to read his new book you know?

I actually ended up liking this - not his best work, but I like that he's trying something new (the story happened backward) and I think he pulled it off - I was able to guess one of the twists about half way or slightly later, but I like that the ending still surprised me.

However the book ended a little abruptly, and I do wish that there is an epilogue or something to tie back to actual ending (i.e. the beginning of the story). I actually ended up having to re-read the first couple of chapters to "close the loop".

The writing and plot was quite concise so it was a fast read. And ah, I missed my bus stop while reading this...

4 Stars (more like 3.75, but since I rate at 0.5 increments, I bumped this one up for trying something different.)

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I am once again behind on my reviews...  (7 finished an 1 DNF). Work has been keeping me rather busy, plus the toddler (!) is almost sick every other week (nothing serious, just colds... but he's still cranky) and then of course we'd get sick the week after...

So don't be surprised if you see a few catch up posts in the next few days as I try to finish them before the year end!

Where did the year go... though at the same time it felt like it was a long year... strange.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review - Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff

From Goodreads:

Have you ever felt caught between the tension of a day job and a dream job? That gap between what you have to do and what you'd love to do?

I have.
At first I thought I was the only one who felt that way, but then I started to talk to people and realized we're becoming the "I'm, but" generation. When we talk about what we do for a living we inevitably say, "I'm a teacher, but I want to be an artist." "I'm a CPA, but I'd love to start my own business."
"I'm a _____, but I want to be a ______."
All too often, we hear that dreaming big means you quit your day job, sell everything you own, and move to Guam. But what if there were a different way?
What if you could blow up your dream without blowing up your life?
What if you could go for broke without going broke?
What if you could start today?
What if you already have everything you need to begin?
From figuring out what your dream is to quitting in a way that exponentially increases your chance of success, Quitter is full of inspiring stories and actionable advice. This book is based on 12 years of cubicle living and my true story of cultivating a dream job that changed my life and the world in the process.
It's time to close the gap between your day job and your dream job. 
It's time to be a Quitter.

Ummm do I really know the answer to this question?

"I'm a_________, but I want to be a ________."

There are so many answers I could give to the 2nd blank... but there isn't really just one answer for me though... If you don't know the answer, the author suggested your could ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your dream?
  • What's something that makes you feel alive that you wish you were doing?
  • What do you hope is true of your life in 6 months? A year? 3 years?
  • Do I love doing __ enough to do it for free?
  • When I _____ does time feel different?
  • Do I enjoy doing _____ regardless of the opinions of other people?
  • If I pursue __ and only my life changes, is that enough?
  • Is this the first time I've loved _ or is this part of a bigger pattern in my life? 
One thing that I have always loved all these years without fail (while other hobbies come and go), is reading. But hey can you be a professional reader and get paid for it? :) 

At times, the book feels a bit repetitive. And some of the materials I already know from my own experience, but I guess it's good to read as a reminder. And if you don't know, then it has some good takeaway. 

Some insights for me:

  • Don't forget your family when you pursue your dream> E.g. I have to work like crazy right now, so my family can be better off later - the problem is that kids don't believe in later, kids believe in right now. 
  • "If I really wanted to", "It would be easier if..." are such toxic phrases. They really do hold you back
  • One idea I really want to try - email yourself about what you have learned today as a warning to your future self - set the time so that the email will be delivered a year from today. I mean, I have read people writing a letter to their younger self about what they wish they knew at the time. But since we can't go back in time, why not write to your future self so that you won't repeat your mistake, or remind your future self about something you think is important today? 

3.5 Stars

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Review - Mammolina: A Story about Maria Montessori by Barbara O'Connor, Sara Campitelli (Illustrator)

Mammolina: A Story about Maria Montessori

Mammolina: A Story about Maria Montessori by Barbara O'Connor, Sara Campitelli (Illustrator)

Describes the life and achievements of the Italian woman doctor who developed a revolutionary method of educating children.

I have always been interested in education, and have heard about Montessori before, but haven't really looked into it. Now that we have a kid, I have to start paying attention so I started doing some research. I am still very busy at work, so don't have much attention span to read books that require a lot of brain power - thus when I found out there is a children's book about Maria Montessori, I thought it would be a great cliff note version :)

I really enjoyed it - it was written in a simple manner and held my interest. And what a remarkable woman! Whether you agree with her philosophy on children education or not, she was one fascinating woman - I didn't know she was a doctor before she was an educator, and she became a doctor because she did not want to be a teacher in the first place (one of the few professions that women could be back then.) It interested me enough that I wouldn't mind reading more about her :)

4 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review - We Are Water by Wally Lamb

We Are Water

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

From Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True, a disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy

In middle age, Anna Oh-wife, mother, outsider artist-has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Anna has fallen in love with Vivica, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.

Anna and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut, where gay marriage has recently been legalized. But the impending wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora's Box of toxic secrets-dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs' lives.

We Are Water is an intricate and layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs-nonconformist Annie; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest Oh. Set in New England and New York during the first years of the Obama presidency, it is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and breathtaking compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience in vivid and unforgettable characters struggling to find hope and redemption in the aftermath of trauma and loss. We Are Water is vintage Wally Lamb-a compulsively readable, generous, and uplifting masterpiece that digs deep into the complexities of the human heart to explore the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

I have never read Wally Lamb, though I have been meaning to: I Know This Much Is True, She's Come Unknown.... so when I was offered We Are Water for review, I thought I might as well start with this one!

This novel has lot of elements I normally stay away from - this is character driven, it is over 500 pages, it doesn't have much plot, it's not fast-paced, the characters went through stream of consciousness... and yet I never thought about abandoning it. I wanted to find out what happened. The author was able to switch between present and the past easily and you got to know the characters from the little tidbits here and there. I definitely enjoyed the writing. So I am glad that I gave this a try!

The story was written from multiple perspective, which I do like. Though I found that all the characters seem to have similar voices. I did find a pet peeves of mine though - two minor characters were named Donald (one of the main character's brother, and her maid's twins), and that there was a Thea and an Althea. And maybe I am from a conservative family... but some of the topics the family members discussed? They'd never happen in my family... though I suppose it is quite subjective and no two families are the same.

I also found the ending satisfying - stopped at a good spot, but not loose end was tied up into a neat bow.

I do have a few quotes I like from this book - though the last one may be a bit of a spoiler - throughout the book, I kept wondering why this book was titled "We Are Water" - and I am glad I did find out why or it'd have been so annoying. So skip the last quote if you don't want to know yet! I posted it here not because I want to post a spoiler, but I just found it meaningful and want to keep it for future reference. And like one of the characters, I do like the sound of water - "rain on the roof, rivers flowing... and then ocean". I used to live by the ocean, and I miss it.


"Put your hand out," I'd tell these students. "Now bring it closer. Now closer still." And when their hands were a half inch fro their noses, I'd ask them to describe what they saw. "It's blurry," they'd say, and I'd suggest that sometimes the closer we got to a situation, the less clear it looked. (p95)

Change what you can, accept what you can't, and be smart enough to know the differences. (p550)

You can look back on the past. Just don't stay stuck there. (p552)

Okay, but what have you gained since then? I ask myself. It's something I used to advise my university patients to do to combat self-pity: replace negative thoughts with positive ones. So okay, what have I gained? (p556)

"We are like water, aren't we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and dstructive, too."... Like water, we mostly follow the path of least resistance. (p560)

Note - Received a free ARC copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review - The Stranger You Know (Forensic Instincts #3) by Andrea Kane

The Stranger You Know

The Stranger You Know (Forensic Instincts #3) by Andrea Kane

From Goodreads:

It begins with a chilling phone call to Casey Woods. And ends with another girl dead.

College-age girls with long red hair. Brutally murdered, they're posed like victims in a film noir. Each crime scene is eerily similar to the twisted fantasy of a serial offender now serving thirty years to life-a criminal brought to justice with the help of Forensic Instincts.

Call. Kill. Repeat. But the similarities are more than one psychopath's desire to outdo another. As more red-headed victims are added to the body count, it becomes clear that each one has been chosen because of a unique connection to Casey-a connection that grows closer and closer to her.

Now the Forensic Instincts team must race to uncover the identity of a serial killer before his ever-tightening circle of death closes in on Casey as the ultimate target. As the stalker methodically moves in on his prey, his actions make one thing clear: he knows everything about Casey. And Casey realizes that this psychopathic won't stop until he makes sure she's dead.

I haven't read the first two book in the series, but when I was asked if I wanted to be part of the TLC tour, I immediately said yes because my blogging buddy and fellow mystery lover Tea Time with Marce had recommended Andrea Kane more than once before, and I never got around to reading her books.

I quite enjoy reading about the Forensic Instincts team which was made up of people with different specialty and talents - made me want to join their team! Not that I have any crime solving talents. As I didn't read the first 2 books, it took a little bit of effort to try to understand who-is-who, but it wasn't so bad. Though some characters got more "face time" than others, so there were a couple of the team members that I didn't get to know much about.

The story was fast paced, so it was an engaging read. However, some plot lines seemed a bit contrived (especially with Claire's psychic ability - I am not sure whether I believe in psychic power or not so I guess I lean on the more skeptical side though I found the topic fascinating). Also, with Casey being the human behavior expert, there was a choice she made near the end that made me felt like it was uncharacteristic of her.

Reading this book was like watching Bones the TV show - I loved the team work and read about everyone's skills. Seems like a good series to follow!

3.5 Stars.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour to see what other bloggers think! And this is a fun post - 5 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About.. Andrea Kane.

Andrea Kane’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 14th:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, October 15th:  Inside of a Dog
Wednesday, October 16th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, October 17th:  Simply Stacie
Friday, October 18th:  Bibliotica
Monday, October 21st:  The Book Wheel
Monday, October 21st:  Shelf Pleasure – author guest post
Tuesday, October 22nd:  The Well Read Redhead
Wednesday, October 23rd:  Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, October 24th:  Chaotic Compendiums
Friday, October 25th:  She Treads Softly
Monday, October 28th:  Literally Jen
Tuesday, October 29th:  Redheaded Book Child
Wednesday, October 30th:  Mental Foodie
Friday, November 1st:  Life, Love, & Books
Monday, November 4th:  The Daily Mayo
Monday, November 4th:  Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, November 5th:  Bookalicious Mama
Wednesday, November 6th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, November 7th:  My Shelf Confessions
Friday, November 8th:  From the TBR Pile
Monday, November 11th:  Sarah’s Book Shelves
Tuesday, November 12th:  Reading Reality
Wednesday, November 13th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, November 14th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, November 15th:  Booked on a Feeling
Monday, November 18th:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Tuesday, November 19th:  My Bookshelf
Wednesday, November 20th:  Broken Teepee
Thursday, November 21st:  Fiction Addict
Monday, November 25th:  October Country
Tuesday, November 26th:  A Chick Who Reads

Note - A free copy was given from TLC in exchange of an unbiased review.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review - Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

From Goodreads:

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

This book has gotten so much rave. And I found it just okay. In fact, I like it a bit less than the author's other book I'd just reviewed last week - Fangirl.

There were parts that I quite like - the sweet memories of when you just started going out with your first love, how you felt kinda awkward and nervous and excited, how you just wanted to spend all the time together and didn't know what is okay or not okay to say because you didn't want him/her to think you are weird... yeah, the author captured those feelings quite well and you nodded as you remembered.

But I felt that the characters didn't quite develop, like Eleanor and Park's relationship started out of nowhere, and the ending had me baffled. It seemed like a chapter was missing.

I'd say it again though that Rowell's writing was easy to read, as I was able to finish it in just a couple of days. Which is not easy to do nowadays!

2.5 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What would you rather be?

I saw this question from the Books, so many books' facebook page:

Which would you rather be:
1. an author
2. librarian
3. journalist
4. publicist 
5. proof-reader
6. owner of a book store
7. writer of reviews
8. poet
9. editor
10. if something else, what?

For me, 1, 2, 3, 6 appeal to me. Though I guess I am pseudo-7 (I don't write formal reviews, just share my thoughts here). I guess 4 or 9 could be fun. Definitely don't want to be 5, or 8.

I wish I could shadow all these positions though to really know what it takes to do their job.

How about you?

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I read Attachments 2 years ago (almost to the date! See review here) and liked it fine (chicklit is not my usual genre). Recently I'd read lots of good reviews of the author's other book, Eleanor and Park, so I thought I'd give that a try. I found out the author has another new book, Fangirl, so I reserved that too at the library. The 2 new books came at the same time for me to pick up at the library, and I thought I'd read Fangirl first as it seems like Elenaor and Park has better reviews. 

My library marked this (and Eleanor) as YA. I haven't been in YA mode lately (since I was pregnant really... coincidence?), but was in a fluff read mode. Only took me 2 days to read so that's a good sign. I can identify with Cath to some degree (not the fanfiction part, but when she first went to college). Overall I think it's an okay book - it's a little long (over 400 pages), and I admit about half way through I started skipping the Simon Snow excerpts (whether it's from the book series itself that's like Harry Potter, or from Cath's fanfiction). I supposed if I was a Harry Potter fan I may be more curious. As per usual, this genre is a bit predictable for me.

I do like Rowell's engaging writing, and that her characters seem real. You want to know what happened to the characters. But there's just something missing for me. I don't quite know what - I guess I like books that make me feel sentimental, but this one didn't quite bring me all the way there. Will read Eleanor next, and we'll see if I like that better.

3 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review - Corrupt Practices: A Parker Stern Novel by Robert Rotstein

Corrupt Practices: A Parker Stern Novel

Corrupt Practices: A Parker Stern Novel by Robert Rotstein

I read this based on my blogger buddy Marce's recommendation ( see her review here on Tea Time with Marce). I love reading legal thrillers, especially if they have good court room scenes while I can read about the strategies / tactics the lawyers use to win a case (how often do I wish in real life I can just demand someone to answer yes or no lol.)

This did not disappoint! Like Marce predicted, I did stay up to finish reading it (which is rare nowadays as I usually fall asleep at my desk now that we have a toddler... good thing it was a weekend). It had good characters, good plot and good court drama. Now I am kinda harsh when I rate a book - hardly any books are 5 stars (like only life-changing books get that), and only books that are very, very memorable will get 4.5, so a score of 4 is actually quite high in my ranking and this book gets a 4. There are some unresolved subplots - but I suppose this is going to be a series so there aren't answers to all the questions yet (which can be frustrating.) Some plots were also a bit contrived but at least they are probable.

I look forward to reading more books in this series!

PS - this is a quote Marce cited in her review, and it's also a quote that jumped out to me when I read this book. I do not have a religion, and have often wondered what religion really means to those who believe, so this is a great analogy for me to understand it a little bit:

"Religion can be very similar to an embrace. And you can't really explain an embrace. But there are people who comfort me with just a hug." Grinning slightly, she tilts her head toward her father. "If that same person hugged you, you'd probably recoil in disgust. But the trick, with both people and faith, is to find what will comfort you. We all need a divine embrace."

4 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - My Road To Wealth: Learn About Obtaining Wealth Through The Story Of A Young Self Made Multimillionaire by Todd Babbitt

My Road To Wealth: Learn About Obtaining Wealth Through The Story Of A Young Self Made Multimillionaire

My Road To Wealth: Learn About Obtaining Wealth Through The Story Of A Young Self Made Multimillionaire by Todd Babbitt

I bought this book a while back, and never got around to reading it (though I must have started reading it at some point, as I'd taken notes on the earlier pages! But I had no memory of it...) When I was sorting out my books to see what books should go back onto the bookshelf, this book screamed "read me!" and so I did.

I wish I'd read this earlier! The author is about 5 years older than me and seemed to have accomplished much more! This was a very fast read - not a how-to book, but rather, just the author's story on what he did to become wealthy. He was very willing to share what he did - not to the minute details but enough to get you thinking. Now, while he was a bit lucky and was investing in real estate at the right time, he worked hard to get to where he was - he did not just sit there and money did not just appear out of nowhere. He researched, he learned, he took risk, and he acted. He also was clear that real estate was not the only way to wealth - it just happened to be something he was interested in.

He was an avid reader - and he included a list of some of the best books he read, so I appreciated that. In fact, I'd bought a couple of the books he recommended, and would prob buy the rest once I read some of my other books. He had a point there - for a small amount of money (for a book), you got to learn  so much from other successful people, isn't that a great investment?! Now again, none of these books are quick-get-me-rich books (those are called scams), but they'd be good guides to help us find our own path.

He said that many people kept wondering what they'd do if they have money, and yet never did anything much to act on getting rich. Yes, definitely guilty of that.

4.5 Stars.

Note - I bought this book

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Every so often, I will see reviews like this on Goodreads - now I don't mean the actual content of the review, but the use of the animated phrase like so in this review:

Where do you get those animated clips (e.g. the omg ones in the above review)?!

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - After the Fall by Victoria Roberts

After the Fall

After the Fall by Victoria Roberts

From Goodreads:

This whimsical novel introduces us to a quirky Upper East Side family: Pops is a mad inventor; Mother a well-intentioned if flighty socialite; young Sis a tiny, madcap theater impresario; and the narrator, her earnest, sweet brother Alan. One day, Pops's inventions falter and this lovably eccentric family loses every penny. They wake up to find that they and the entire contents of their penthouse have been transported to Central Park. Aided by their two loyal housekeepers and fed by the maitre d' from their favorite restaurant, the family makes Central Park into a surprisingly comfortable home. But soon the strains of life and weather tear apart the parents' relationship. As Christmas approaches, the children must find a way to reunite them. With kimono-clad squirrels and a visit by a Yeti, this delicious tale is a love letter to family, creativity, and New York.

I saw this on the "new books" shelf at the library. Looks like an fast read with the illustrations, so why not? I am always looking for books that could inspire me.

Well, I was disappointed. Whatever the message the author was trying to get at with the story (which the author said was something she'd been meaning to write about for 17 years or something like that) was just lost on me. Maybe I am just too dense to get the A-ha moment... it didn't really make me think deeper about any issues, like what if, like what would I do if I was in that situation?

The illustrations are fine, but not enough to rescue the plot.

The reason I will give it 2 stars instead of 1 star, is that I did enjoy reading about the different inventions the father invented in the book - they were fun and quirky and creative. I wish the story was more about that. 

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

The First Phone Call from Heaven

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

From Goodreads:

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief--and a page-turner that will touch your soul--Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

Readers of The Five People You Meet in Heaven will recognize the warmth and emotion so redolent of Albom's writing, and those who haven't yet enjoyed the power of his storytelling, will thrill at the discovery of one of the best-loved writers of our time

I read Tuesday with Morrie back in 1999 I think - I don't remember a whole lot of its content now, but I remember it made me cry when I read it, and I even remember exactly where I was when I read it too. I keep meaning to read more of Albom's books, so when I was offered an ARC for this one, I said yes immediately (even though I am trying to limit my reviews since I just can't seem to catch up)!

It was a quick read - Albom's writing is short and concise. I expect (whether rightly or not) that there will be a message behind the story, and there is. It definitely makes you keep reading to see if there really are phone calls from heaven or not, and I like that there are closures to the story. However, I found the character development a bit lacking and I didn't really feel attached to any of the characters. So in the end, the story didn't move me much emotionally. The message was nothing really new, but it was a good reminder.

I also enjoyed the little bit of historical story about Alexander Graham Bell and his wife and the telephone that Albom tied to his story - I am not a history fan but like learning little tidbits here and there.

I do have one question though for those who have read this... I don't know if it's a loophole or not? I will put my question in white below with spoiler tags, as not to spoil the story for others:

If everyone really wants evidence, couldn't Tess have played her mother's message from the answering machine? I think Jack rescued her phone/answering machine from the fire right? Or was the answering machine lost in the fire and only the phone was rescued?

The First Phone Call from Heaven will come out in November. It'd make a nice holiday gift.

3.5 Stars.

Note - An ARC was given from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review - Mother, Mother: A Novel by Koren Zailckas

Mother, Mother: A Novel

Mother, Mother: A Novel by Koren Zailckas

Who is telling the truth? The book alternated between siblings Violet and Will, after their oldest sister Rose went missing.

I quite enjoyed this novel, though perhaps "enjoy" is the wrong word to use for this psychological suspense. The characters were quite well developed, and it was a page turner. The chilling part is that there are probably people like so in real life...

The ending was a bit anti-climatic for me though, only because I semi-guessed what happened so it wasn't quite as WOW as it'd have been.

I like the front cover - though I think I kinda like the ARC cover I received a bit more:

4 Stars. Don't forgot to check out other TLC stops to see what other bloggers think! Another blogger posted about 5 things you didn't know about this book , and #2 on the list, regarding the title of the book, was especially interesting! And I think the ARC design cover fitted the title perfectly! It contain some spoilers though, so don't read if you haven't read this book yet :)

Koren Zailckas’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, September 16th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, September 17th:  Books a la Mode
Wednesday, September 18th:  River City Reading
Thursday, September 19th:  Between the Covers
Monday, September 23rd:  Mental Foodie
Tuesday, September 24th:  Books a la Mode - guest post/giveaway
Wednesday, September 25th:  Fiction Addict
Thursday, September 26th:  The Best Books Ever
Monday, September 30th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 1st:  From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, October 2nd:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, October 3rd:   Luxury Reading
Friday, October 4th:  Sweet Southern Home
Monday, October 7th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, October 8th:  WV Stitcher
Wednesday, October 9th:  5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, October 10th:  Overflowing Bookshelves
Monday, October 14th:  50 Books Project 

Note - A ARC was given as part of the tour, in exchange for an unbiased review.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.