Friday, October 18, 2013

Book Review of Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

Sarah M. Eden is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! What a sweet story. I loved reading Seeking Persephone from the first page to the end. As it is with most books that I read, it was a bit predictable. But it didn’t in any way detract from my enjoyment. The story quickly launches into the wedding and then weaves the character descriptions into the story rather than starting with character development. I liked that. Persephone is from a family of very limited means and felt it was in her best interest to accept a marriage proposal from a wealthy Duke named Adam who had never so much as seen her face nor heard her name. He began criticizing her before the wedding was even completed. When he finds out that her name is Persephone, he thinks that it is a ridiculous name and tells her as much. When he discovers that she is young and beautiful, he is not happy and makes his feelings obvious. Because she doesn’t understand the underlying reason why he’s not happy, she assumes that he considers her ugly and beneath him. What she doesn’t realize is that he never really wanted a wife to begin with, but felt pressured to produce an heir to carry on the family name. He had one of his staff choose him a wife who was desperate for a way out of her current situation so that she would appreciate him rescuing her. He had hoped for an older, ugly woman who wouldn’t be tempted to leave him because she knew that she would never have the chance to marry anyone else. Adam was used to being feared and used to commanding everyone around him to do as he says. But he has visible scars from a series of surgeries in his youth, and underlying scars because of rejection from his mother and his peers. He despises being pitied and loses respect for those who feel sorry for him. When Persephone figures this out, she stands up to him and treats him like she would any other man, and he gains immediate respect for her because of it. She refuses to let him bully her and goes out of her way to weave herself into his sheltered, private world. Gradually he grows to like her, feels a strong need to protect her, and eventually realizes that he loves her – although he fights it to the end. While the story begins as a Beauty & the Beast type of tale, it ends as a sweet love story with a prince and his true love ready to take on the world side-by-side with confidence. I loved it, I couldn’t put it down, and I would read it again – which is a good sign. Have you read Seeking Persephone? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

Other books by Sarah M. Eden:

Check out my book review of Glimmer of Hope here.

I recently lost 42 pounds on the Take Shape for Life program! Want to check out my weight loss transition? Click here! -Julie L. Spencer

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Is the Tea Party?

I was in attendance at the very first Tea Party in Michigan where I laid a tea bag on the steps of the Capitol building in Lansing along with several thousand other individuals on April 15th, 2009 (tax day). I can only tell you MY opinion of what it means to attend a Tea Party rally. We are NOT Republican/Democrat/Liberal/Conservative or any other political party. We are Americans who feel that we should be free to live our lives without government interference. TEA has come to represent the phrase Taxed Enough Already, but the original movement began because we, the people didn't feel as if the government was representing us (all of us). We want to return to the fundamentals of what this country was founded to achieve, basically freedom from controlling government and representation from the people who do serve in the government offices. We are NOT radicals and are not trying to take down the framework of the government. On the contrary, we want to peacefully demonstrate the way that our government has strayed from its original intent. Trying to associate the Tea Party with the Republican party is pretty silly, since most of us disagree with many things the Republicans are doing (just like we disagree with what the Democrats are doing). So few people in the government actually listen to what the Tea Party patriots say that most of them will probably be thrown out in the next election. If people criticize the Tea Party but have never actually attended a Tea Party rally, they are not seeing the whole picture; they are only seeing what the main-stream media wants them to see. I challenge you to learn more about what we represent rather than associate us with what is being done in Washington D.C. or what is being portrayed in the media. Have you ever attended a Tea Party rally? What's your opinion? -Julie L. Spencer

I recently lost 42 pounds on the Take Shape for Life program! Want to check out my weight loss transition? Click here! -Julie L. Spencer

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review of The Overton Window by Glenn Beck

As a whole, I liked The Overton Window by Glenn Beck. It took me a little while to get into it, but about half way through it I got to the point where I couldn’t put it down and looked forward to getting home from work so that I could take a few minutes to read. That’s one of the ways I judge a book. One of the other ways I judge a book (or movie) is whether I can predict the ending. Unfortunately, this was a pretty predictable book. That being said, I do look forward to reading the sequel, The Eye of Moloch by Glenn Beck. This was the original reason why I read The Overton Window in the first place. I heard a radio interview where Glenn was talking to someone about his new book and I was drawn to it immediately. When I got The Eye of Moloch, I realized that it was a sequel, so I had to go out and get The Overton Window.

I liked Noah Gardner, the main character. He was a likeable guy who (predictably) falls for the main female character, Molly Ross who is a patriot activist and part of a group of people who are trying to change the world. Or save the world, depending on how you look at it. Noah bounces back and forth between the life of luxury he is accustomed to, and the world where Molly lives. He is torn (briefly) between what his father is trying to accomplish and what Molly is passionate about. It seems that Noah has already become disillusioned by his father’s business, and although he seems entrenched in it, he really isn’t. Near the beginning of the book it is obvious that he is more of a glorified gopher within his father’s business, and is truly unaware of just how corrupt his father is. It doesn’t take a lot of prodding for the manipulative patriot to convince Noah to take her straight to his father’s office and hack into the system to show her all of his father’s secrets. This seemed a little far-fetched to me. Most people wouldn’t break into someone else’s office for any reason, even for a pretty girl.

The cover describes The Overton Window as a Thriller. I certainly didn’t agree with this statement until I got about half way through it. The inside of the jacket cover also describes how an “unprecedented attack on U.S. soil shakes the country to the core…” Well, the attack didn’t happen until right at the end of the book and took place out in the middle of the desert where no one really knew about it. The book even describes how no one got a picture of it and that the mushroom cloud had to be hand-drawn by reporters in order to share the story.

The reader feels the pull between the two worlds of the very, very rich and the patriots. It is never implied that the patriots are poor in any way, more that they are not ultra wealthy. There is an underlying theme that the rich can pretty much do anything they want or get anything they want just by calling the right people and flashing a little money around. Noah learns that being rich allows him the ability to help his new ‘friends’ in advancing their cause. I once read a book written by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki called Why We Want You to Be Rich wherein it is taught that it is much easier to help others if you have money yourself. Think about it, when was the last time someone on welfare was able to offer you a job at the business he just started? Whereas, if you are rich and have the capital to start a business, you can offer that person on welfare a job, thus lifting him up and helping him get off welfare. It’s a powerful upward cycle. The rich provide jobs and purchase goods & services, helping others to earn money and then those people can purchase goods & services, helping other businesses earn money, and the cycle goes on and on. Also, if you are rich, you are able to donate to causes you believe in, participate in local school fundraisers, give to the local library or art museum, support a local politician, etc. But it’s very difficult to support causes you believe in if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can barely take care of yourself and your family. One of these days I’ll have to write a book review on Why We Want You to Be Rich! But in the book The Overton Window, the rich people are ultimately portrayed as the bad guys and, dare I say, the evil guys. This is an extreme example though, and obviously fiction. Let’s hope so anyway!

Like I said, all in all I liked the book and would probably read it again. That’s a good sign! There were a lot of unanswered questions and a bit of a cliff hanger at the end making me all the more excited to read The Eye of Moloch. Have you read The Overton Window? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

Other books by Glenn Beck:

I recently lost 42 pounds on the Take Shape for Life program! Want to check out my weight loss transition? Click here! -Julie L. Spencer

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review of All Fall Down by Julie Coulter Bellon

I just finished reading All Fall Down by Julie Coulter Bellon and I must say that I liked it quite a lot. It was the kind of book that I looked forward to reading. The kind of book that I wanted to leave work early so that I could get home and read some more. I liked the writing style and the story was engaging. I also have a soft spot in my heart for military men & women willing to put their lives on the line to protect Americans, and the main characters were mostly military men and one strong female detective. I liked her. Claire Michaels was in my mind a cross between Detective Joss Carter in the television series Person of Interest, and Detective Teresa Lisbon in the television series The Mentalist (two of my favorite television shows). Claire is tough and strong, yet has a sensitive side that she doesn’t want to show, especially to the men who surround her. The male lead in the story, Rafe Kelly reminded me immediately of Channing Tatum’s portrayal of the character John Tyree in the movie version of the novel Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. If you’ve ever seen or read Dear John, you would know that John is a very desirable, yet mysterious and guarded man. The story in All Fall Down is a wild chase trying to outrun several government officials in two different countries, and trying to elude an enemy who is veiled and mysterious. One of the initial characters warns Rafe not to trust anyone and it ultimately predicts the antagonist, a man who turns out to be just vulnerable enough to make the reader feel sorry for him even as he is putting the rest of the team in perilous danger. On a side note, All Fall Down was a little predictable and cliché, but most books/movies are for me. Unfortunately, I tend to judge a book, not by its cover, but by its predictability. If a book or movie can shock me with a twist or surprise ending, that’s impressive. This one did not, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I’d read it again, and that’s a good sign. Have you read All Fall Down by Julie Coulter Bellon? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

In case you've never read Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, here are a couple of links to the book and movie:

Here are some other books by Julie Coulter Bellon:

I recently lost 42 pounds on the Take Shape for Life program! Want to check out my weight loss transition? Click here! -Julie L. Spencer