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.