Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Fold - Peter Clines

I started out this book thoroughly expecting to enjoy it.  I enjoy suspenseful, "good" science-fiction type thrillers.  And it did start off interesting, good even.  However, I found myself being less and less impressed as I kept reading.  The theory behind The Fold was definitely unexpected and interesting, so I give it high marks for that part.  However, when it's revealed that the "creators" of "The Door" had (spoiler alert) no idea what they were doing, or what they created, it just feels like it goes downhill fast.

After "over a year" of it "working fine", the mouth of the Door randomly starts to expand once the true nature of it is revealed.  From there, things get weirder and weirder.  A "creature" comes through the Door, but they manage to kill it...then it disintegrates.  Then the completely one-dimensional character of Sasha emerges: a character that just sits in the corner and says "oh, f___" probably a hundred times or more in the last few chapters...and is "multiplied" into 2 Sasha's.  Then, a crew of Marines comes in to help with the impending Creatures, and promptly all die, while the genius Mike and the scientists mostly manage to survive.  Then, it turns out they were wrong, and the Creatures aren't really the thing to be's some sort of giant "Alpha Predator".  They somehow manage to take care of it, and get out alive (albeit Sasha x2).

Somehow, the fire department and ambulance crew shows up, and take Arthur away, but let the others stay.  Then, "two people in dark suits, a man and a woman" arrive, apparently knowing exactly what had happened and why.  They check out the area, thank Mike for "saving the world" and then leave.  It just seems like a bizarre way to end the book.

I was also unhappy with the inappropriate scene between Jamie and Mike.  That, combined with massive overuse of the f bomb, lead me to my final conclusion: I would not recommend this book at all.

I was sent this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review. 

Gone Without A Trace - Patricia Bradley

I enjoyed reading this book.  Livy is a cop, who apparently is struggling with flashbacks of a recent job where she ended up shooting a young man.  She takes leave from work, and winds up "helping" (and too quickly, falling in love with) a private investigator hired by a senator whose daughter has recently disappeared.

My biggest problem with the book is this: Livy's cousin, Robyn, also disappeared under suspicious circumstances (taking no clothes, not leaving a note, very little motive [possibly a failing marriage?]) more than two years ago.  She sent one note instructing her family not to look for her, so they didn't.  She had an 8? year old daughter at the time, and never tried to get in touch with her.  You later find out the supposed reason, but it just didn't ring true with me that A)the family didn't try to find her anyways, and B)she left her daughter with no contact for over two years.

I was taken in by the "who did it" part of the story - trying to discover which of the patrons or owner of the diner is the man they're searching for...the author did a good job in keeping that suspenseful.  I still never felt an extreme sense of doom, as it felt like if the story was so centered around one person's disappearance (the senator's missing granddaughter Samantha Jo), the author probably wouldn't just get to the end and kill off the character.

I had not read the first two books that I see are apparently in this "series", but I was able to jump in just fine, and didn't actually realize it was part of a set until later.

Despite finding it somewhat unbelievable, I did enjoy the book, and might just get the other two in the series to find out more.

I received this book free from Revell Reads (Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Give Yourself a Break - Kim Fredrickson

This book's tagline is "Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend".  This initially caught my attention as I most definitely have an inner critic, and I saw this book as possibly being a way to help overcome negative and self-disparaging thoughts.

In the beginning, I appreciated that this book was written from a Christian perspective.  However, I feel that that perspective is skewed.  Had it been written secularly, it would have made more sense to me.  Essentially, this book encourages you to be your own best friend.  Biblically, I believe that teaching us that Jesus must be our best friend is much more correct.  By understanding what God thinks about you as a person, and choosing to believe that, will be more accurate than deciding to think highly of ourselves.  In addition, she quotes several Bible verses, then proceeds to pull them out of context.  In one of the final chapters, she refers to her husband as a "Bible scholar", so I am a bit surprised at how inaccurate her interpretations of most verses quoted seems to be.  

As a few examples, she opens the first chapter with Matthew 14:14 - "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick."  She goes on to talk about how this must be applied toward us thinking about ourselves: "..."I'd like to develop a compassionate relationship with myself..."  Chapter 2 includes Psalm 46:1 - "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  She follow it with this: "Imagine how different your internal world will be when you are able to join with God in being a present help to yourself in times of trouble." In chapter 8, she quotes a very tiny portion of a verse in KJV: "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7)  She then moves on to discuss how we relate and talk to ourselves as being important.  While I don't necessarily disagree, this verse has nothing to do with her point.  Here are verses 6-7 for context: "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."  

The 2nd chapter "A Look Inside", I found actually quite beneficial in regards to raising children.  It is talked about in the perspective of us looking backwards at our own childhoods (and seeing what issues may have led to our view of ourselves), but I found it more helpful as I have 1 toddler and a baby on the way.  It has a section discussing "Our Emotional and Relational Needs" (eye contact, physical touch, focused attention, validation with empathy, etc.).  

At the end of each chapter, she has a "Concluding Reflections" section, which discusses ways in which to put the chapter into use in your life.  Some of these are good ideas "What was your response as you read about our tendency to fall into narcissism or self-contempt when faces with our mistakes?  Where do you see yourself in this dilemma?" (Chapter 2), but then I felt that it got into some rather bizarre self-meditation exercises in a number of instances.  Here are some examples: "Try a moment of kindness toward yourself: a. Gently place your hand comfortably over your heart. b. Take a few gentle breaths as you welcome a moment of calm into your life. c. Notice this kind connection with yourself, and say some words that are soothing to you, such as: "I can learn to be kind to myself.  It is okay for me to be human with faults and strengths.  God sees me with kindness and compassion, and I can too." e. Repeat this gentle action daily as you build this kindness and compassion with yourself one moment at a time. (Chapter 3).  "Try a compassion moment...remember a time in your life where you were cared for in a meaningful way...allow yourself to picture this situation: where you are, what you are wearing...notice how it felt in your body and your soul.  Breathe deeply as you experience taking in the good thoughts, feelings, images, and body sensations..." (Chapter 6).  

As a whole, I would not recommend this book.  I do agree that we need to speak truth to ourselves, in either direction.  I do not agree that I must become my own best friend (I believe that as a Christian, that's a place that only Christ should hold).  I do feel that I was able to glean some good information and tips from it, and I may use it as a reference personally instead of throwing it away.  
I received this book free from Revell Reads (Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.