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™‚

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.

 

Review | A Naturalist Goes Fishing by James McClintock

A Naturalist Goes Fishing: Casting in Fragile Waters from the Gulf of Mexico to New Zealand's South Island

 

Title:Β A Naturalist Goes Fishing
Author:Β James McClintock
Genre: Non Fiction, Sports
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publishing date: 27th October, 2015
Pages: 272

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

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


Synopsis:

In the tradition of fishing classics, A Naturalist Goes Fishing combines elements of the triumph between fisher and fish, humor and wit, and a passionate concern for the natural environment.

James McClintock takes us to some of the most breathtaking waters the world has to offer while capturing the drama and serendipity in the beloved sport of fishing. We follow him and his fishing buddies and professional guides, as he fishes off the marshy barrier islands of Louisiana, teeming with life but also ravaged by recent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill. We travel to the remote waters of New Zealand’s Stewart Island, where the commercial fishing industry is fast disappearing; fish for gigantic Antarctic toothfish through a drilled ice hole at McMurdo Station; and scout for spotted bass on Alabama’s Cahaba River, which has the highest diversity of fresh water fish in North America. As we take this global journey, we see how sea level rise, erosion, pollution, water acidification, and overfishing each cause damage.

This strikingly beautiful narrative is a must read for anglers and nature lovers alike.


My Take:

This book makes the “reading takes you places” come true. πŸ˜€ This one book will take you to 9 fishing trips in 9 different places, if you are anything like me and haven’t been to even one, this is the book for you. πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

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It has a lot of ecological and conservation information like description of the fish species, characteristics of their natural habitat, the problems arising from the change of the ecosystem, etc . An informative read is always a YES!

All the information can seem overwhelming at times but it is still enjoyable if you don’t stress over it. Not only does the author provide you with information about the fishes and their habitat, he also explains the effects of climate changes and other problems, and has dedicated a complete chapter to inform about the conservation of fishes and their habitats.

I loved the little touch of fish pictures! ❀ ❀ Screenshot_2017-06-12-21-43-52-1


Why would I pick it up?

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For a virtual fishing trip. πŸ˜›

Review | Compassion is the Key to Everything by Alexandra Chauran

Compassion Is the Key to Everything: Find Your Own Path

 

Title:Β Compassion is the Key to Everything
Author:Β Alexandra Chauran
Genre: Non Fiction, Self Help
Publisher:Β Llewellyn Publications

Publishing date: 8th January, 2016
Pages: 240

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

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


Synopsis:

Transform the way you interact with the world around you using Compassion is the Key to Everything, a practical, nondenominational book on discovering and exemplifying your own idea of what it means to be a compassionate person. Alexandra Chauran provides a guide to creating your personal code of ethics and integrating compassion into your life and community.

Explore your life’s purpose, nurture a peaceful existence, and strengthen your relationships with this book’s guidance on finding your own path. And unlike other books or spiritual programs that espouse specific diets or purchasing choices, Compassion is the Key to Everything provides insights that are adaptable to any lifestyle. Through exercises, meditations, and more, you’ll learn to stop judging yourself and others and start making the world a better place.


My Take:

Look how soothing the cover is. ❀ One of the reasons why I was drawn to the book. πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

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Screenshot_2017-06-12-22-00-23-1One of the things that I liked about this book was that that it places equal importance of showing compassion to others as well as oneself. People stress over how we conduct ourselves with others but how we conduct ourselves is often overlooked. The author emphasis enough about understanding oneself, being compassionate and staying away from self harm.

This book is divided into 5 main chapters that cover all that is to cover with respect to compassion.

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Screenshot_2017-06-12-22-12-45-1This book delves into how compassion, empathy, sympathy, kindness are all important virtues. In a broader sense they are one and the same, if there’s one of these qualities in you, the other finds the way. The exact definitions make them different and that is what is talked about in the book and how to achieve is delved into.

This book talks about how to get along with others while not being hard on yourselves. It includes suggestions, exercises, helpful tips, along with the understanding of the topic.

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It talks about the importance of finding your life’s purpose and how you should find it. It takes about Karma and Will, exercises for them, their effects and meaning.

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It talks about creating your own game plan for a thoughtful lifestyle. It talks about what morality means to us and how it is defined by our culture and our upbringing. It talks about how striking a balance in life is hard and how to deal with unintentional harm.

Everyone wants peace in their lives. This book covers the steps along the path to a peaceful existence. Surrendering pride is one of the big steps.Β Kindness is a virtue and becoming a beacon of kindness for others is also covered in this book.

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The book covers the topic in detail with a lot of sub topics, studies, quotes, mnemonics, exercises, meditation exercises, etc. It is a good read and will keep you thinking about life and your conduct towards life. πŸ˜€


Why would I pick it up?

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For a thoughtful read. πŸ˜€

Review | The Big Bucket List Book by Gin Sander

The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime

Title: The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime
Author: Gin Sander
Genre: Non Fiction, Self help
Publisher: SourceBooks

Publishing date: 1st January, 2016
Pages: 302

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

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


Synopsis:

Everyone has an extensive, daunting bucket list of things to complete β€œbefore you die.” But it’s time to stop listing and start living. The Big Bucket List Book will change the way you look at the world and empower you to reach for all of the big and little things you want to achieve. Gin Sander offers 133 fresh ideas for infusing your life with a bit of glamour, adventure and styleβ€”whatever your budget. Learn to make your next chapter the most enriching and personally fulfilling of them all…and maybe change the world while you’re at it!


My Take:

Everyone has an extensive, daunting bucket list of things to complete β€œbefore you die.” But it’s time to stop listing and start living.

True, we all have bucket lists.Β If you don’t then you are doing life wrong. πŸ˜›

Screenshot_2016-11-06-13-37-07-1This is exactly what I believe in and reading books that puts your thoughts into words is just wonderful. ❀

 

Screenshot_2017-06-12-17-23-38-1It’s not enough to just have a list. You made a list, now what? It is important to pursue those goals, to do everything in your power to achieve them.

 

This book does not tell you to live life king size, it tells you to enjoy each and every thing. It’s more about enjoying than going big. There is a wide range of activities in this book. Many of them are not something that I am interested in, few are local to US, and few are somethings that are already on my bucket list. Most of them aren’t going to interest a lot of people. So, the list is kind of hit or miss.

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More than the list, I liked this book for the message because doing various things, trying out different stuff makes our life meaningful and fun.Β This book is designed to get you engaged in your life so that you fully experience it on all levels.

Screenshot_2016-11-06-13-37-50-2This is something that has always fascinated me. More than visiting a place, I would love to be a part of it. How fun would it be to go about my day in a foreign country. ❀

It is good read and will motivate you to work towards your own bucket list, might as well give you some ideas. πŸ˜‰
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Why would I pick it up?

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To increase the list of my bucket list, for some inspiration and motivation. πŸ˜› πŸ˜›