The Butterfly Lady by Danny Hoey

The Butterfly LadyThe Butterfly Lady by Danny M. Hoey Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In living a life that was true to his heart, Gabriel made others uncomfortable. This story explores the ways in which, for years, Gabriel’s relationships fall short of creating fulfillment in him and those he is connected to. The beautiful prose pushes the reader to explore the paths hate has the opportunity to take. Ugly emotions can drive even the best people to act in truly disgusting ways but The Butterfly Lady offers, in a poignant way, an alternate path not taken.

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Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster, and Easier by Terry Laughin

Total Immersion: Revolutionary Way to Swim Better and FasterTotal Immersion: Revolutionary Way to Swim Better and Faster by Terry Laughlin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Total Immersion is a system of swimming that prizes technique over power and seeks to teach swimmers how to adapt their vessel to swim more fishlike and eliminate the struggle that plagues so many swimmers and would-be swimmers. Living four miles from the ocean, having a barely used health club membership card in my billfold and a small backyard pool perfect for practicing technique–it seemed that I really have no excuse for my poor swimming abilities. This book is an excellent how-to book focused on skill building for the new swimmer or long-time swimmer that is tired of being frustrated with their slow progress in the water using old fashioned techniques. The freestyle stroke is broken down into a series of small steps in which the swimmer is encouraged to imprint the proper technique on their mind and body. Once all the drills are learned, then the steps are assembled into a highly efficient full stroke. This book helped me with the mental distress I have when I go in the water. I was unable to pull enough information out of the text to be sure I was practicing correct technique, so I did buy the video set which explained the steps discussed in video format. I think the two products compliment each other well. I want the background and history and science behind what I am trying to do in the pool. I do better when I am in a “program” and I do indeed feel a part of the Total Immersion group now that I am practicing drills daily. I hope that becoming confident with this new form of exercise will help me to become healthier long-term. I’m excited for the future and credit this book with getting me to take the first step to discovering this new hobby.

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The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other Einstein: A NovelThe Other Einstein: A Novel by Marie Benedict

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical fiction provides the dangerous temptation to take fiction as fact. With this story, it is very easy to vilify Albert Einstein as the adulterous, abusive, and cut-throat man of brilliance he is perceived to be in The Other Einstein. After enjoying the story, what is telling for me, once I separate fiction from documented fiction, is that Einstein vigorously courted and then married a brilliant scientist who overcame so many odds to attend the same university as the privileged Einstein, yet he did nothing to support that potential once he married this phenomenal woman. Is this blasphemy against the most celebrated scientist of modern times? In my opinion it is simply a fuller picture of the man who so many claimed to know. This book did what great historical fiction is supposed to do–it made me curious about the time and people it discussed. It made me appreciate the setting and characters which were discussed and encouraged me to dive deeper into my own research of the topic. Excellent job to Marie Benedict on creating an engaging story which I look forward to sharing with others.

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Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth by Guinnevere Shuster

Shelter Dogs in a Photo BoothShelter Dogs in a Photo Booth by Guinnevere Shuster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine if dogs who have been discarded by their original owners, yet desperately want a furever home are given a photo shoot by a professional and their glam shots shared with potential owners? That is exactly what happened when the very talented Guinnevere Shuster started volunteering in her unique way to help dogs find homes. This book is a collection of photographs of dogs who have been adopted, in part, due to her amazing work. Flipping through these photographs and reading the stories of these amazing dogs will warm your heart and make you feel good about the world around you. I plan on sending a copy to my dog-loving Grandma in the near future!

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Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith

Chocolate FeverChocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My little and I read this story together. She is nine years old and picked it out herself. She seemed to like it well enough. The thought of a kid eating too much chocolate and getting caught in a dangerous adventure when he tries to run away from his problems was fun for her. The vocabulary was enough of a stretch, that it was a good learning experience. I was not impressed with the book, however. It was just too dated and not as relevant for her as I would have hoped. It’s not really one I will recommend to others.

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The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes LastThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some things scare the hell out of me if I think about them too much. One of those things is greed and what would happen if we as a society stopped seeing each other as human beings, but instead really focused on money and power above all else. How would that affect you as a person who loves another person? This story explores one such possibility and the question of to what we choose to do with our own free will. This clever tale follows a couple in the supposedly not too distant future as they deal with the ultimate economic downturn and get caught up in a viscous cycle of systems doing what is “right” for those in power. It is the couple’s own heart which could be their final undoing.

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The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen

The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of ViolenceThe Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary A. Haugen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If we don’t know that a problem exists, then it is impossible to ever fix it. Most people know that millions of people around the world are suffering in poverty. What is less known is the extent to which violence combined with a lack of any kind of criminal justice system in parts of our world cause many to lose their lives or plunge further into desperate circumstances. This is a moving narrative that needs to be heard. This call to action will make you grateful for the opportunities you have and make you want to be part of the solution for others.

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