Review | Gift of Darkness:Growing Up in Occupied Amsterdam by Craig K. Comstock

Gift of Darkness: Growing Up in Occupied Amsterdam

 

Title: Gift of Darkness:Growing Up in Occupied Amsterdam
Author: Craig K. Comstock
Genre: Non Fiction, Biography
Publisher: Willow Press

Publishing date: 25th November, 2015
Pages: 206

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

*e-ARC received from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Synopsis:

Gift of Darkness” tells the story of a boy who, like Anne Frank, lived in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Unlike Anne, he was not taken into early hiding, but was able to move around the city, even to help serve its Jewish community, and observe first-hand the ominous things that were happening. Robbert Van Santen lived each day not knowing how or when the war would end, not being sure that he would survive, not imagining that as an elder he would articulate his experiences to an American author. To put one of Mary Oliver’s poetic phrases in a new context, his story is “a box full of darkness,” but in the telling he offers the author and the reader the gift of stepping into his shoes and thus the satisfaction of coming to understand a teenager’s challenging life. What did Robbert do afterward? He sought “to find joy in life despite what happened. Not instead of the memories, but as a response to them.


My Take:

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If you only look at Robbert’s Β experiences and focus on the events of the time then this is a good book but overall this is not that of an interesting read.

When you think of someone going through all this, it obviously tears your heart apart. Using present tense can make a person experience the ordeal while they read it but it gets exhausting at times. I don’t actually like present tense narration in fiction either, it takes out the story telling element which is what makes a book more enjoyable, atleast to me.

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While the approach might be different and the reason logical to an extent it takes out the pleasure of reading. This approach might better suit a documentary because reading the past in past tense actually makes the story seem real. I don’t know if it’s just me but the tenses make or break the book. The message, the story might be good but the writing style is not well suited.

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I kind of feel that narrating his life story in present tense might have been more painful for Robert.

I think it would’ve worked better as “as told to.”

 

 

I really liked the foreword of the book, it is written by Francis Weller, he explains the decision of writing the book in the particular way better than the author himself.
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Now, if Robbert could talk about the facts detaching the feelings then he was already dealing with his grief. If you can separate the facts from the feelings it means you have come to terms with that experience to a certain extent. I get the, “to enter the grief and allow the full weight of sorrow to be felt and expressed,” this makes sense for using the present tense but then again if it was in first person it would’ve made more sense. When the story is being told in third person it automatically becomes Β “as told to” and the present tense seems irrelevant.

“The whole story must be told, reuniting the facts with the feelings.” Robbert wanted to delve out only facts so to get the feelings out this method might have been helpful in the interview but in the book, not so much.

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Image result for old man reading animated gifThis is the actual story I wanted the most focus on. This was the part I wanted to read when I started reading this book. The story of Robbert. The author’s thoughts, psychoanalysis, historic facts, information are all necessary but should’ve been secondary to the actual story but all of these stuff seem to push towards being the primary aspect of the book. I think in making this book worthy the author lost focus from the main element of the book. Yes, they decided to skip some parts, in a joking manner, but some of the things required more attention and details that was not provided to the parts. Some places it felt rushed when it came to Robbert’s story and some places it felt dragged when it was the author recounting the experiences he had with Robbert.

Yes, Anne’s story is heartbreaking but you don’t actually get to know about the state of the Jews, in this book you are amidst all the disaster. To get a glimpse of how life was for the people who couldn’t go into hiding, this book is a good start. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


Why would I pick it up?

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For Robbert! πŸ™‚

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Review | Boyfriend for Hire by Gail Chianese

Boyfriend for Hire (West Side Romance, #2)

 

Title:Β Boyfriend for Hire
Series: West Side Romance (Book 2)
Author:Β Gail Chianese
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Publishing date: 24th November, 2015
Pages: 278

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

*e-copy received from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Synopsis:

In this sexy new series, author Gail Chianese celebrates the heartβ€”and the heatβ€”of modern dating. This time, a temporary boyfriend may be the right man for a permanent position…
Β 
The only girl in a family of five brothers, Tawny Torres has had enough of waiting on men. She has her life and her career all mapped out, and neither includes an apron, an iron, or a husbandβ€”yet. But when a new job emphasizes a healthy balance of work and play, she needs a guy to stand in as her love interest at a company picnic. Gorgeous charmer David β€œKing of Pleasure” Farber fits the bill perfectlyβ€”so well that Tawny is shocked to realize she’s having a hard time letting him go…

David’s a confirmed bachelor, but he can’t get enough of Tawny’s firecracker combination of tough and tender. Unfortunately, he’s overloaded with work at his construction firm and now definitely isn’t the time for distractionβ€”he struggles enough with that already. Still, he can’t ignore his feelings for Tawny. He’ll just have to convince her that he’s more than a
boyfriend-for-hire. And she’ll have to prove he can trust her with his biggest secret…


My Take:

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What an enjoyable book! ❀

I loved reading it. The writing is good and engaging. Although the concept of the book isn’t something fresh, the writing gives it its own essence. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

The title “Boyfriend for Hire” might be a stretch because our lead pair are already friends and David already is hot for Tawny, the title gives off the strangers-falling-in-love vibe.

I am not a fan of the cover. :/ I have already read many fake-boyfriend-for-the-sake-of-job-or-family kind of books so the plotline wasn’t that intruiguing to me but the writing, the relationship growth, the character development made up for what the plotline lacked in originality.

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It sure was an entertaining read with sass and smartass… πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

The conversations between the pair are funny and highly entertaining, I liked Tawny’s no- nonsense attitude and Dave obviously is very likable. This is the second book in the series which I didn’t know at the time of reading but it can be read as a stand-alone. The main characters of this book act as supporting characters in the first book. I think that’s how the series is going to continue. This book makes me want to read the other books in the series.

A real entertaining read. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€


Why would I pick it up?

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For a fun and light read. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Review | The Guardian Stones by Eric Reed

The Guardian Stones

 

Title:Β The Guardian Stones
Author:Β Eric Reed
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publishing date: 5th January, 2016
Pages: 260

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

*e-copy received from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Synopsis:

941 Britain: Children are vanishing from the village. Is it the powers of an ancient stone circle at work, or a modern predator? In mid-1941, children evacuated to the remote Shropshire village of Noddweir to escape the Blitz begin to vanish. It was not uncommon for city children faced with rural rigors to run away. But when retired American professor Edwin Carpenter, pursuing his study of standing stones, visits the village and discovers bloody clothing in the forest, it is clear there is a more sinister explanation. The village constable is away on military duty so the investigation falls to his daughter Grace. Some villagers see the hand of German infiltrators bent on terror. The superstitious, mindful of the prehistoric stone circle gazing down on Noddweir, are convinced malevolent supernatural powers are at work. And Edwin, determined to help Grace find whatever predator is in play, runs into widespread resentment over America’s refusal to enter the war. This atmospheric mystery will appeal to readers of Rennie Airth, Maureen Jennings, and both Ann Cleeves and Ann Granger.


My Take:

The premise of this book is very interesting. I liked the historical aspect of the book and the setting was interesting. The descriptive parts were well written. πŸ˜€

The main characters are likable, the supporting characters are well thought out too. All part of the plan. πŸ˜‰ What I didn’t like about the character introductions was the attention to details. I kept getting confused about how old a certain character was and that kept me from fully paying attention.

The mystery isn’t much of a mystery, it’s still there but not as much as I would have liked. It had a horror aspect and can be categorized into horror. Some scenes had this chilling air leading to the end and those were the interesting reading bits. πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

This was an okay read for me. It wasn’t gripping enough to hold my attention, my attention kept wandering from the book. I put down the book many times and picked it back up because I still wanted to know how it ended. It was a good thing that it keeps you intrigued for the end so that you can’t put it down. πŸ˜›


Why would I pick it up?

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For an interest evoking read. πŸ˜€

Review | Dark Turns by Cate Holahan

Dark Turns

 

Title:Β Dark Turns
Author:Β Cate Holahan
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publishing date: 10th November, 2015
Pages: 336

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

*e-copy received from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Synopsis:

Nia Washington is an incredibly talented ballerina. She fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but.

Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. It’s not long before she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn’t the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

A stunning and suspenseful tale of passion and betrayal, Cate Holahan’s Dark Turns will take readers deep into the mind of a murderer and the woman who must put an end to the killing.


My Take:

This is a gripping read. I was always interested in Ballet, not as something to learn but as something to watch. I always wondered how painful dancing on your toes would be so never dreamed of being a ballet dancer yet was enticed by how graceful the dancers looked.

Screenshot_2017-06-13-14-00-53-1Having the touch of ballet actually drew me to the book. The cover and synopsis already had my attention but the ballet aspect made me grab the book. I would have read it anyways. I love mystery and thrillers. ❀ πŸ˜›

 

Screenshot_2017-06-13-14-03-56-1A nice touch, actually a smart move, was naming the chapters after ballet moves and starting the chapters with instructions of the said moves and the moves resonating with the chapters was quiet clever. πŸ˜€

The author created such interesting characters, it’s hard not to love them. Aubrey is such a well written character, she was the best character in the book, despite all the evilness, she is an enjoyable character. Nia is a bit naive, being a dancer herself she ought to know the competition between dancers, the power struggle but she doesn’t seem to.Screenshot_2017-06-13-14-02-45-1

This book seems to have a lot going on- career ending injury, murder, pedophilia, betrayal, deception, jealousy, love, hate, you name it. None of them seemed forced and made the story what it is. It was a quick read for me, I read it in one sitting because the book didn’t bore me even once. ❀

Though a bit predictable, this was a very interesting read. The mystery isn’t that much of a mystery, the suspense didn’t hold up till the end, nothing shocking but a decent read. If you are looking for something challenging then this might not be the book for you otherwise you are sure to enjoy a light mystery read. πŸ˜‰ Β It had its unique elements and those bode well with the story making it more likable. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€


Why would I pick it up?

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For a fast paced, interesting read.

Review | The Happiness Effect by Donna Freitas

The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost

 

Title: The Happiness Effect
Author: Donna Freitas
Genre: Non Fiction
Publisher:Β Oxford University Press, USA

Publishing date: 1st February, 2017
Pages: 368

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

*e-copy received from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Synopsis:

Sexting. Cyberbullying. Narcissism. Social media has become the dominant force in young people’s lives, and each day seems to bring another shocking tale of private pictures getting into the wrong hands, or a lament that young people feel compelled to share their each and every thought with the entire world.

Have smartphones and social media created a generation of self-obsessed egomaniacs?

Absolutely not, Donna Freitas argues in this provocative book. And, she says, these alarmist fears are drawing attention away from the real issues that young adults are facing.

Drawing on a large-scale survey and interviews with students on thirteen college campuses, Freitas finds that what young people are overwhelmingly concerned with–what they really want to talk about–is happiness. They face enormous pressure to look perfect online–not just happy, but blissful, ecstatic, and fabulously successful. Unable to achieve this impossible standard, they are anxious about letting the less-than-perfect parts of themselves become public. Far from wanting to share everything, they are brutally selective when it comes to curating their personal profiles, and worry obsessively that they might unwittingly post something that could come back to haunt them later in life. Through candid conversations with young people from diverse backgrounds, Freitas reveals how even the most well-adjusted individuals can be stricken by self-doubt when they compare their experiences with the vast collective utopia that they see online. And sometimes, as on anonymous platforms like Yik Yak, what they see instead is a depressing cesspool of racism and misogyny. Yet young people are also extremely attached to their smartphones and apps, which sometimes bring them great pleasure. It is very much a love-hate relationship.

While much of the public’s attention has been focused on headline-grabbing stories, the everyday struggles and joys of young people have remained under the radar. Freitas brings their feelings to the fore, in the words of young people themselves. The Happiness Effect is an eye-opening window into their first-hand experiences of social media and its impact on them.


My Take:

The synopsis already talks a lot about what’s in the book, so I am going to skip that part and focus on how this book turned out.

This book is a result of a lot of research and with that the author has done a good job of presenting us with her research.I loved reading the interview parts because you can see from where the author is coming from, what actually she focused on. She talks about the conclusion she drew from the research.

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One of my problems with research based books that focus on a single topic is that there is a lot of repetitiveness and this book is no exception. Reading the same thing again and again in different forms can be boring and that’s what I found some parts to be.

It sure is insightful on how some of the kids these day feel, focus on “some” because the large percentage of people I know in person don’t resonate with the idea of this book because these things like being jealous of other people’s life, wanting to appear happy and successful, wanting to appear perfect, etc has been a part of many people’s emotions prior to the existence of social media, social media is just another way for them to be all out about how they feel. With social media it just gets easy for them to detect it. It’s nothing that I haven’t read about before, so it was an okay read for me.


Why would I pick it up?

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For the social media approval cravers, to make them read and understand.

Review | Anything for a Vote by Joseph Cummins

Anything for a Vote: Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots, and October Surprises in U.S. Presidential Campaigns

Title: Anything for a Vote
Author: Joseph Cummins
Genre: Non Fiction, Politics
Publisher: Quirk Books

Publishing date: 27th October, 2015
Pages: 304

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

*e-copy received from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Synopsis:

A History of Mud-Slinging, Character Assassination, And Other Election Strategies
Γ‚
Today’s political pundits express shock and disappointment when candidates resort to negative campaigning. But history reveals that smear campaigns are as American as apple pie. Anything for a Vote is an illustrated look at 200-plus years of dirty tricks and bad behavior in presidential elections, from George Washington to Barack Obama and John McCain. Let the name-calling begin!
Γ‚
     ‒  1836: Congressman Davy Crockett accuses candidate Martin Van Buren of secretly wearing women’s clothing: β€œHe is laced up in corsets!”
     ‒  1864: Presidential candidate George McClellan describes his opponent, Abraham Lincoln, as β€œnothing more than a well-meaning baboon!”
     ‒  1960: Former president Harry Truman advises voters that β€œif you vote for Richard Nixon, you ought to go to hell!”
Γ‚
Full of sleazy anecdotes from every presidential election in United States history, Anything for a Vote is a valuable reminder that history does repeat itself, that lessons can be learned from the past (though they usually aren’t), and that our most famous presidents are not above reproach when it comes to the dirtiest game of allÒ€”political campaigning.


My Take:

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I am not into politics, this isn’t even about my country’s politics, the only reason I picked this book up was to diversify my reading. It’s safe to say that I do not regret my decision. Phew… what a relief! πŸ˜›

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This book bode well with me because of the light weight writing, the information wasn’t just dumped on you, it was molded into quite summarized chapters. The flow of the book was easy going and each chapter was thoroughly thought out. It was presented in kind of a story fashion which made it an easy read for me.

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All the details were simplified in order to be understood by everyone. I feel like this is an unbiased writing when it comes to politics. If you read this book, you will get a fair idea of the election scene in the US upto 2012, though many of us believe it’s the same around the globe.

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It’s not exactly the best source material for any one election in particular but will provide you with a fair idea of what happened. The illustrations, quotes, and the writing style added to the politics made for an interesting read.

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Why would I pick it up?

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For an easy political read.