Book Review: Handling Strife – Ideas for Happier Living by David Butcher

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: Handling Strife: Ideas for Happier Living
Author: David M. Butcher
Date Read: October 12th – October 23rd, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 23rd, 2016

Introduction: I received this book as an uncorrected advance copy for an honest review. I decided to pick this book up because I wanted a little non-fiction in my life, but it turns out I also got a splash of religion (specifically Christianity).

Quick Summary: This book is not only about handling strife, but pretty much every topic you can imagine a person might deal with – hate, love, trust, guilt, shame, honesty, happiness, jealousy, envy, price, the bible, the afterlife, music, control, truth, and more. The book talks a lot about Christianity, and the author gives his opinion a lot. There are also lots of stories shared about his personal experiences and other’s experiences. If you do not want to read one man’s specific opinions on all of the topics listed above, this book is not for you.

Quick Review: I did not enjoy this book, but not for the reason you might think. I tossed the entire religion aspect out of the door – I would not judge this book based on this man’s religious beliefs. I have read many books with many different religious views and they have been wonderful. I didn’t like this book because this writer is not exactly culturally friendly. His choice in wording makes this book sink all the way to a simple one star review. This book could have been a much higher star if he treaded carefully with his wording in some situations. I knew what he meant, but what he said might not go well with other readers. So, readers beware. There are lots of opinions and bad choices in the wording department.

For a slight change in my review format, I’m going to go chapter by chapter. I read this book twice, the first time through I tried to write my normal formatted review and it was incredibly hard – I had lots of criticism and lots of love depending on the chapter. So, I’m going to go chapter by chapter for this book so my followers/readers can get a much better understanding of why my rating is so low.

Chapter 1: Idea #1 Walk in Truth
This chapter started off pretty well. I was impressed with this man’s view on truth and how to ensure you do not lie. This is a great lesson for people! Being honest is a great way to live (when it’s appropriate). But, of course, the choice of wording did not exactly turn out well in this chapter. He mentions how you should always be honest, such as if your wife is wearing a dress you don’t like, tell her to change so her dress matches her highlights (which you do like). This didn’t sit well with me. What if his wife liked that dress? Should she have to change because you don’t like her dress? If she asked your opinion and she didn’t like the dress, perhaps that honesty would work well here, but the situation is iffy. Overall, this sentence made my view change for this whole chapter.

Chapter 2: Idea #2 Be Real
Another good idea to live by, but the author’s wording yet again had me wondering what his ideal thought of “being real” is. He discusses the subconscious wants, needs and desires, and then begins to talk about the “perfect life”. A spouse must “always” look good, they must never disagree with them, they must keep the house clean and do the laundry before it’s needed. Well, okay, that might be in his household but that doesn’t always stand true for everyone. The wording for this made it seem like everyone’s spouse must do this, so I wasn’t impressed. The chapter continues to go on with poor wording choice, such as the fact that not having enough money is never a catastrophe. I would disagree with that statement, to a degree. If you consider how some countries do not have health care, if you could not afford your treatment it would be a catastrophe. If you lost your home, your car, your career, and even more because you are so sick you cannot go on and cannot afford health care, I would feel like that could be a catastrophe. It was simply poor wording choice, and it could have been worded like “not having enough for extras in your life” could have worked better to get his point across. The final part of this chapter that got my blood boiling was how he talked about children. I don’t have any, but I work with lots of children so I didn’t appreciate this wording choice. He questioned anyone who is a parent and if they loved their child at all (poor wording choice) and then continued to ask about loving them to consider their feelings before punishing them. Again, good point – don’t yell and swear at them to hurt their feelings and teach them a valuable life lessons – but poor wording.

Chapter 3: Idea #3 Get Rid of Guilt and Shame
In this chapter, David did an excellent job of describing the difference between guilt and shame. They are definitely two very different concepts that can be mistaken for one another, and I applaud his descriptions and explanations. Although, yet again, the wording choice or lack of explanation further on left me feeling cheated. Our author tells a story of a man he used to know, he killed someone and then decided to change his life after he got out of jail. He got married, got a job, went to church and became a good man. As a picky reader, does this make a good man? I would need much more explanation, since I know a lot of married people with jobs that go to church that are not necessarily “good people”, but his definition of a “good person” may not be mine. This man could have made an honest mistake and actually be a wonderful person, but David lets on that this man is not good, so I felt confused. Eventually David explains a “bad person” – people who kill (okay, sounds reasonable in some situations), people who gamble (this can be a problem/addiction for people, but they are not necessarily bad people for this…) and people who smoke and drink (doesn’t necessarily mean someone is bad, I know smokers and drinkers/alcoholics who are wonderful people). There are many different levels of “bad”, and I feel like if he wanted to discuss bad people, discussing the levels could have made a better distinction between murderers and recreational drinkers.

Chapter 4: Idea #4 Take Control
The author’s stories and situations are very out there in this chapter. He explains why becoming angry is a bad thing – it can escalate to the point you will start killing people left and right, so never get angry. He also paints his parents as horrible people in this chapter, and explains how as a small child he corrected their behaviour. This entire chapter I felt like it wasn’t necessarily truthful, or it was missing explanations as to how these make sense, but that’s just my opinion.

Chapter 5: Idea #5 Eliminate Worry and Fear
I overall liked this chapter, minus one sentence. He explains how getting rid of useless worry and fear will help you get over strife, which is a great lesson for people. I tend to worry a lot and I got a lot out of this chapter! Except for one point, he describes how he went on a trip and knew the trip would be over when “God” let him run out of money. I’m not sure that’s exactly how a trip works (you usually plan to be there for a certain number of days and bring money for just in case situations where you need more…but hey, what do I know?).

Chapter 6: Idea #6 Envy, Jealousy and Pride
As a writer/reader/reviewer/editor, this chapter left me with my blood boiling. David M. Butcher explains how envy and jealousy are the same thing (they are not, they are similar but definitely not the same). He then continues to belittle cooks and welfare recipients (I don’t know how these two are similar, but apparently they are) and says they need to change and become better. I believe he meant this as a situational story, but I felt like something had been left out during the writing process. Some people on welfare are actively trying to get better but may just be in a bad spot (I know many like this, trying to get a job or losing one due to a horrible circumstance that was not related to them) and I know many cooks who are great people who do not need to “change” to be better.

Chapter 7: Idea #7 Love and Hate
This chapter is half amazing and half bad wording. Bad wording first – all women look for princes, according to this author, and all will be disappointed when they get a regular man. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with this, not all women want a knight in shining armor (perhaps young girls do, but that’s conditioning from society, but hey, that’s another issue). And then the good wording – David discusses learning to love ourselves. Society conditions us to learn to love and accept others, but not ourselves. This is truly important, especially with mental health issues in today’s society. I will give major props, and that specific part of this chapter deserves six out of five stars.

Chapter 8: Idea #8 Be Happy
This whole chapter was incredible, no poor wording at all! David discusses that being happy takes effort – you need to decide to be happy. If anything, I would have added more to this chapter – such as everyday will not always be a ten on the scale of one to ten of happiness, sometimes it will only be a one.

Chapter 9: Idea #9 Learn To Trust
This chapter had a lot of strange stories about learning to trust prayer – if you pray, in three days something good will happen. One woman got a random item out of a catalog that she didn’t order in three days, one man got a $200 Jesus status given to him, etc, etc. And if it doesn’t come in three days, wait a year or so, it’ll happen! Not necessarily true, but hey, this author is trying to get people to trust in time and patience, so kudos to him.

Chapter 10: Idea #10 Spreading Fear and Hate
I liked this chapter a lot, and the author had great examples. Some of them were a bit out there, but it got the point across that some people spread fear and hate, and it’s important to try to not be one of those people.

Chapter 11: Idea #11 The Bible
This chapter explained a bit of how the bible has changed from religion to religion and why it was separated into parts. I found it interesting, but it didn’t necessarily need to be in a book that talked about handling stress and strife in your life.

Chapter 12: Idea #12 One God?
If anything, I just wanted to call out a great Shakespearean reference to Romeo and Juliet – the rose by any other name reference was a great way to allude to other works but get the point across – great job David!

Chapter 13: Idea #13 Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?
This is the chapter where readers should really beware. It is the best chapter of the book for me, since it explains how people preach the bible yet don’t exactly follow what they preach – but the author does the same thing here. He preaches that women should be given the option to have an abortion, but then he contradicts himself in saying get the women lots of help to not get the abortion at all. Contradictory, but it is a literal example of what he is discussing. He also compares how people are against sexuality and other choices (because of bible versions) but the bible also says to not cut yourself or dress up as the other gender, yet we let people get tattoos, women wear pants and men get ear piercings.

Chapter 14, 15, 16, & 17
These final chapters are very short and don’t seem to apply at all to the title of this book – handling strife. Life after death, music, loving Jesus and the Kingdom of God are discussed. It’s an interesting selection of chapters, but seem redundant and repetitive in my opinion.

Final Thoughts:
David has some great references – such as Halloweentown and Captain America, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible. I didn’t like this book due to the contradictory nature of David’s words, but I did find it helpful and insightful. The book is opinionated, so reader’s need to beware when reading. You are not going to agree with all of David’s thoughts, but you may get something out of this book. To me, it seemed like a large collections of sermons piled into one book, but it wasn’t exactly culturally sensitive.

One out of five stars due to the cultural insensitivity and contradictory nature of the novel.

Quick Book Review: Queen of America by T.J. Slee

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Picture via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: Queen of America  (Freya Eriksdottir #1)
Author: T.J. Slee
Date Read: September 26th – November 4th, 2016
Date Reviewed: November 4th, 2016

Background: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads for an honest review.

Quick Synopsis: This book is all about female vikings, which is a nice change from seeing all men vikings all the time. Freya goes out on a mission and is determined to finish it. You follow her struggles and the adventures that vikings have. It’s a great read following strong female characters that are also vikings.

Evaluation: This book was a good read, but I felt that the style did not match with me. This book is truly beautifully written and I love the strong female characters, the exciting plot and the incredible adventures, but I just didn’t like the writing style. It felt too slow for me, but that’s because I really like to read fast paced books. Yet, this book isn’t slow by any means – TJ keeps up an amazing pace. I just found it didn’t fit well with me as a reader. Other readers will definitely like this book! It gets all my praises and awards, but as a reader I just know the types of writing styles I like to read and TJ’s writing style doesn’t match with me personally.

That being said, it’s time to get into the juicy parts of this book. You follow Freya as she goes on an adventure, but you also meet her brother Leif. Her story was truly inspiring and compelling, which had me continue and finish this book.

For people interested in viking history but want a more interesting read than a history textbook, I would definitely suggest picking this book up. It’s a great fiction read that keeps you hooked and gives you some insight into their culture.

There are definitely characters I would have loved to see more of, but other than that there’s not much else to improve on in this set of stories. It’s truly a great read and I suggest readers pick it up!

4 out of 5 stars.

Quick Book Review: Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri

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Photo via Goodreads.

This novel was a big let down for me.

I picked up this book at a clearance event for books. I had wanted to read the novel for years, but I could never remember the name. The book was the cheapest of the pile and on sale on top of the clearance, which should have been a warning.

I heard rave reviews from my friends that I should read this book, so I picked it up willing and ready to be wooed. Sadly, this book was one where I had to force myself to continue, and I did not see the point in the ending.

The ending to the book, without spoiling, made me question if it was randomly made up on the spot because a better ending couldn’t be found. The ending didn’t fit with the pace of the novel or make sense. While I did not read up on the Faust story itself, I felt that the ending could have been more dramatic and exciting instead of a lame ‘The End’ feeling. The conflict did not seem to be resolved and I felt more confused than ever as to what really happened.

The novel was very slow to start, and slowed down even more when I got into it. When I was about 4/5ths of the way through, I began to become really into the book and I couldn’t put it down, but the ending didn’t fit in with the pace that was built throughout the novel.

I had high hopes for this novel, and I will read Another Pan to see if it is any better, but it was a let down.

I wish the ending would have been better, because if it went out with a bang I would have found the book much more interesting. A slow build in pace would have been nice with a spectacular ending that made up for the slow build to the climax.

This book would be good for preteens or younger, since it isn’t as climactic as most Young Adult novels.

Overall, not impressed but I will keep it on my shelf

Murderous May: The Girl on the Train – BOOK REVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA!

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Book Review
Book Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins

Introduction: I have had this book on my shelf for AGES. I had been dying to read it but I never had the time. And then, with a hint of luck, I had to go sit during a long appointment and I had all the time in the world to read this book! And I read about 85% of the book in one sitting and finished it one day later. I not only wanted to read it because of all the fantastic reviews I had read about it, but because I want to watch the film adaption as well. I always love reading the book before seeing the movie – hence why I haven’t watched many movies lately! So many are based on good books!

Review:

This book has been compared to Gone Girl since it hopped on the suspense/mystery novel scene – and while you can definitely say they are similar (because of, you know, murders and mystery) they are both fantastic in their own ways. They are two separate entities that shouldn’t be compared! Unless you are using them in a list of the best suspense books in the last decade, then list them together!

This book follows Rachel, a drunk, angry, depressed, bitter woman who has been divorced by Tom. Slowly throughout this book we are introduced to her back story – a glorious tale woven so beautifully by Paula Hawkins. Tom is now married to Anna, the other woman in his and Rachel’s relationship, and it all goes downhill from there. When a girl that Rachel has seen is missing, Rachel decides that she has to help this mystery.

Reading this book from Rachel’s, Anna and Meghan’s point of view is truly incredible. Rachel isn’t totally reliable because of her being an alcoholic, Anna sounds like the not-so-perfect housewife Tom probably desired at some point, and Meghan gives an inside view to the outside view Rachel has been watching. These three tales woven together are just so beautifully written that it’s hard not to want to tell everyone to read this book just to show them how three separate characters who barely interact can have¬† their lives so entwined with one enough.

So is all this hype worth it? I would say yes. Don’t put this book in some high and mighty place in your mind and then be disappointed. I decided I would read this to see the movie – all the comparisons to Gone Girl made me quite suspicious so I didn’t leave my standards high. But, surprisingly, this book was excellent. If I would have given it silly expectations, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

If I could describe this book in a few words, I would give it – insanity, murder, and suspicion. Every time I thought I had an idea of where this book was going, Paula had to go and shake it up like a magic eight ball. Typically I can see the ending from a mile away, and this book was different. I did NOT expect the ending. Will the reader guess it? Potentially, but it’s not a dead giveaway – which is why I like this book! Paula didn’t make it obvious and made the reader work for it if they wanted to guess.

Overall – this fast-paced, mind-blowing novel is definitely what I needed in my life! It lived up to the hype, and I’m excited to watch the film now! The psychological, murderous novel full of absolute insanity is spectacular! I can’t wait to read more by Paula Hawkins! Her and Gillian Flynn need to write a book together…because the insanity between the two of them in one book? That’d be killer!

Five out of five stars.

Positives:
1. Fast-Paced
2. Unpredictable Twists and Turns
3. Unreliable Narrators
4. Well Developed Characters
5. Complex Plot with a Layered Storyline
6. Unique Concepts

Negatives:
1. Comparisons to Gone Girl
2. Over-Hyped? Maybe.

Positive & Negative All Wrapped Up In One:
1. Dual (3 to be exact) POVs
2. Stereotypical Relationships
3. Black-Out Drunk Moments

Quick Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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Photo via Goodreads.

I love Gillian Flynn and her writing story! I decided to read this novel after I became obsessed with all things Gone Girl.

This novel, from my understanding, was the first one she had ever written that was published. Even for a first novel, it was amazingly thought out and had me hooked at every word. I found it to be a little short and I saw the ending coming, but I still found the book addicting and well planned.

There’s not much wrong that I can critique about the book, other than wanting more action to happen or the book to be longer (but I think that’s because I adore Gillian Flynn and I just want more books and writing by her out right now). I did see the ending coming from the very beginning, but that might be due to the part that I read and watch a lot of books and television shows about crime.

I found this book not to be as good as Gone Girl, but still an amazing read. For me, the book was a five out of five stars. A good crime novel mystery that made me want more out of Gillian Flynn immediately.

Wonderful novel! 5 out of 5 stars!

Batman: The Killing Joke – Book Review

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Batman: The Killing Joke is an excellent graphic novel following two of comics leading stars: Batman and the Joker.

Introduction: I have always loved superheroes – Adam West’s Batman was a key staple of my childhood. Slowly as I got older and Marvel and DC were the beckoning lights at the movie theaters, I became totally obsessed with everything superheroes, super villains and comic books. I began collecting them, reading them, and trying to get my hands on every adaption possible. So, I decided to watch The Killing Joke animated movie. I was so enchanted and enthralled with the film that I had to see the famous comic/graphic novel it was based on. It was a short search – a local store had it in stock the first time I went to look for it, and the rest is history.

Review:

This comic is so simple in theory, but so complex in art. A joker origin (of sorts), a splash of James and Barbara Gordon, some tragic ultimatums, Batman, and beautiful art.

The introduction to the Joker’s “back story” is so interesting. The Joker has always been this mysterious character, and the reader is welcomed into one theory of how the joker came to be. But the joker says it himself – he prefers his past as multiple choice. So is anything he tells us actually true? That’s up to you to decide.

The Joker is cunning and intelligent, as well as insane and wild. The reader gets to see his thought pattern and how truly manipulative he is when he takes control of the plot and causes his destruction. But then, he makes it worse by not only physically torturing his victim, but try to mentally destroy him as well. How can someone be to cruel yet so smart? It’s an incredible reading experience for fans of the Joker.

The ending leaves viewers with many questions – one that we may never know the true answer to. This cliff hanger wasn’t as troubling as other cliffhangers have been for me in the past. It leaves it off at the perfect ending – the reader questioning the events that happened. This leaves the reader to interpret the ending in their own way. What truly happened and what are we to believe?

Brutal is one word to describe this novel – there are graphic scenes, ones that changed DC comics dramatically – and it’s not for the lighthearted.

Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It changed my views on the Joker and Batman, and I really appreciated the little splash of Barbara Gordon (one of my personal favourite characters DC has ever created).

For those who are fans of the film / want to watch The Killing Joke animated film: The plot is very similar, but there are a few changes. These changes don’t impact the end of the story, but it may change some of your personal feelings/understandings of the characters.

Five out of five stars.

Quick Book Review: Winning! A Guide to Games That Never Were by Brandon Barrows

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Photo via Goodreads.

This novel was a short, funny twist on gaming guides.

Every game in this book does not exist, which makes this book quite amusing. It is explaining cheats and how to progress through these games that were never made. Clearly some of these stories were parodying certain games on the market today, and that made it so much better. I have a few times where I wanted to chuckle at the stories and how they explained their games.

I definitely enjoyed this book! It’s a short, cute read and it is definitely more of a comedy book. People who are fans of video games would appreciate this book a lot more than the average reader!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.