Friday, 15 March 2019

FILM REVIEW - BEAUTY & THE BEAST (2017 LIVE ACTION VERSION)

Title: Beauty & the Beast (live action)
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios
Age Rating: PG
Genre: Children's, Family, Fairytale
DVD Release Date: 17th July 2017
DVD Run Time: 129 minutes

ABOUT THE FILM
The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as Le Fou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Audra McDonald as Madame De Garderobe, the wardrobe; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

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REVIEW
So this is another remake. This time the classic Beauty & the Beast in a live action form as opposed to the animated version. To be totally honest I am super, super critical when it comes to Disney remakes or Disney animations turned into Disney live action. In that I love some I hate some, kind of like “marmite”.

Basically, it is exactly the same story with real life actors mixed with the excellent Animations/CGI we have come to expect from Walt Disney Studios. This version of Beauty & the Beast has lots of big musical scenes. I’m probably going to show my age here but the big songs made me think of the likes of Carousel and Oklahoma.

A character that performed flawlessly in my opinion was actor Luke Evans as Gaston, the arrogant hunter who desperately wants Belle to be his wife. Speaking of Belle, the honour of being her went to well known actress Emma Watson (probably best known for being Hermione Grainger in the fantastic Harry Potter Series). I honestly had my doubts as to whether I would truly like her as Belle but I was pleasantly surprised and ended up adoring her portrayal of Belle.
For me not everyone was cast 100% right so what I thought to the other actors/actresses . . .Though I did love Mrs Potts, both in animated form and in life/human form, I felt Emma Thompson portrayed her satisfactorily. However in my opinion, and you can call me an old softie but no one, no one at all could ever beat Angela Lansbury as Mrs Potts. To me Angela Lansbury is the perfect Mrs Potts! Of course, Mrs Potts is only half of the great endearing yet comical duo, with Chip being the other half. In this DVD Chip is played very well by Nathan Mack. Other animated favourites that underwent the transformation fairly well were Cogsworth, voiced and acted by Ian McKellan. Madame de Garderobe  was actress, Audra McDonald. Of course, there are lots of animated favourites to be transferred into this live action version of the film. Continuing with Lumiere, the candelabra, which was really well performed by Ewan McGregor. One quite sizeable difference in the animated version of Beauty & the Beast and the live action one was the “maid” as I remember her from books and the older animations. In this modern live action, the character is referred to as Plumette, the feather duster and is played by actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Maybe it’s just my memory that has mixed things up but I really thought she was dressed as a maid?!

So now what I personally thought to the DVD and this newer version of what I would describe as being a popular Disney movie. I felt there was not enough emphasis on Belle and the fact that she adores books. (Yeah, I do admit I identify with Belle & her books 100%). I felt some of the actors & actresses were trying to put on too much of a “silver teaspoon in your mouth” British voice. Some of the casting just didn’t feel the right “fit”. For me, there was a few too many big song productions, though they are done well. It felt like it was trying to compete with the big classics such as Oklahoma, Carousel and childhood favourites such as Bedknobs & Broomsticks. It just felt a bit too much. I wanted less songs and more backstory on my favourites such as Mrs Potts and Chip, Lumiére and Plumette and Cogsworth. I guess it comes down to personal taste.

My immediate thoughts after watching the DVD were that I still preferred the 1992 fully animated version. Emma Watson made a beautiful, believable Belle. Luke Evan’s the actor portraying Gaston was well cast. But I did not like the actor who played Beast when he is transformed into the human Prince, he just didn’t fit my vision of what the Prince should look like.
As soon as I finished watching the film, I did a list of how well I thought the actors and actresses were cast and portrayed. It's not a full cast list, just the stand out characters in the fairy-tale itself.
(I have scored a selection of them out of ten.)

Beast as Beast 10/10  
Beast as Human Prince 2/10 (sorry I just didn’t like him)
Belle 10/10
Gaston 9/10
Cogsworth 7/10
Lumiere 6/10
Plumette 5/10
Mrs Potts 3/10 (sorry it needed to be Angela Lansbury)
Chip 7/10
Wardrobe 7/10
Coat Stand 8/10
Piano 6/10
Footstool 8/10

So, have you watched both versions of Beauty & the Beast? Which do you prefer? Are there any actors or actresses you didn’t like or thought could be portrayed better by someone different?


Thursday, 7 March 2019

REVIEW - THE EVERLASTING ROSE - THE BELLES BY DHONIELLE CLAYTON

RELEASED 7TH MARCH 2019 IN THE UK!

 
Title: The Everlasting Rose
Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Freeform, Orion Publishing Group
Release Date: 7th March 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia's Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider's Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I finished The Belles, I knew there was no question, I had to read the next book, and then I discovered the title that pulled me in even more, made me wonder if there could ever be an Everlasting Rose in the world The Belles is set in. To say I was impatient to begin reading this book.

I loved the cover of The Belles but wow, the cover of The Everlasting Rose is striking. It hints of what is to come from inside the cover. There’s lots of intrigue, betrayal, sacrifice and loss in this instalment of The Belles story. The genres listed for the book are YA and Fantasy, which whilst I agree with. I would point out I am certainly not in the YA age bracket and I have adored this series so far! Also, I would add that the books could also be added to the dystopian, and possibly futuristic genres.

The book picks up just after we left the characters on the run from Princess Sophia and her followers. It’s been an action packed three days for Camille, at the beginning of everything being at the Palace, being thrown in the dungeons, Princess Charlotte waking up, and then the surprising help of false papers and transport from Arabella.
To begin with it is Camille, Edelweiss, and Ambrosia who escape with the palace guard Remy. They have escaped with very little, just their arcana which reside within them ready to be called and used only on others. Camille also has her teacup dragons, Fantóme, Poivre, Eau, Feuille and finally Or who is very fond of Remy. The fugitives need to evade capture, find, and help Princess Charlotte return to the Palace to usurp Princess Sophia from the throne and take up her rightful place.
This may sound simple, but it really isn’t, with wanted posters all around wherever the Belles and Remy go, all offering large reward for their capture and return to the Palace.
Princess Sophia also has her own ideas on not only how the Palace runs and the laws of the land, she also wants to breed many more Belles, and makes several attempts at doing this with disastrous results producing inferior Belles which are disfigured. When those in the know such as Arabella attempt to explain the process and say she must slow down, she does the opposite even saying the Belles do not need to be attractive, just be able to use their arcana’s to make others beautiful! It seems all Princess Sophia wants to do is make money from Belles and become the Queen to change laws to meet her personal requirements.
We learn one Belle in every generation is stronger and carries something “extra,”  within their blood that helps to make the next generation. Arabella is the one whose blood contains the aether that is needed for the next generation. I am not going to reveal who has the aether in her blood in the latest generation of Belles.
Two of the Belles that are on the run discover their arcana talents can in fact help them travel undetected. The Belles are always on their guard knowing they could be captured at any moment. When Princess Sophia targets the palace guard Rémy’s family, Camille insists he go back and try to help his family. There’s the delightful beginnings of a relationship between Camille and Rémy in this book as well as the differing relationships between the girls. It’s difficult for them to trust anyone, but help does come along in the shape of the mysterious, rebellious Iron Ladies.

I thought the Belles was written extremely and that nothing would ever live up to it but, The Everlasting Rose is even better! The scene setting is stunning, you can really visualise it all. I think the quotes and certain phrases in the book are remarkable. So now I have raved about them I guess I should share a couple. “My thoughts are an overfilled teacup, drowning it’s saucer” “Maman never told me what to do when the world falls apart like a dress ripped at it’s seams, the beads scattering into faraway corners, the fabric a storm of shredded pieces left destroyed and unrecognisable”
The way the Iron Ladies say farewell to each other when going on one of their missions is, “May our threads remain strong and our webs serve us well”.

My favourite character is I guess predictably Camille, at the beginning of this book she is still somewhat stinging about how Auguste betrayed her and proposed to Princess Sophia, after professing his love to her! I also love how friendship turns into more with Rémy, her palace guard whilst they are on the run. Camille cared for all her sisters in book one, and continues to do so in this book, despite Edelweiss warning her on more than one occasion that Ambrosia has changed and its not for the better. On many occasions Camille is willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary, including herself for the good of others.

Everything continues to build up to am ultimate climax, with many putting themselves in the firing line of the power hungry, Princess Sophia. Though it is Camille who is at the very centre of a plan that will either go perfectly well or horrendously wrong! I actually had to put this stunning book down at 88% yep with only 22% I had to put the book down as for us older readers life sometimes gets in the way at the most inopportune times! I left the book there and had questions and scenarios of what may happen galore popping in and out of my head. Such as, Can Camille manage to be literally under Princess Sophia, soon to be Queen Sophia's nose, and be able to rescue her sisters, Beauty Minister, Fashion Minister, the love of her life, his family and make sure Sophia doesn't become Queen? Camille a heavy weight on her shoulders! Will Camille & the Iron Ladies plan work? Whose side is Auguste really on?

What more can I say, as I am not willing to go into more detail as I don't want to spoil the reading experience for everyone else. I truly loved reading this book, even more then The Belles, which I didn't think possible. I highly recommend reading this series.

The covers & the content still reminded me of The Perfected series by Kate Jarvik Birch, The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing and The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. So if you haven’t read those and have loved The Belles & The Everlasting Rose I can highly recommend them to you.




Friday, 1 March 2019

REVIEW - WALMART BY HUGO MEUNIER

Title: Walmart
Byline: Diary Of An Associate
Author: Hugo Meunier
Translated by: Mary Foster
Genre: Non Fiction Adult, Politics
Publisher: Fernwood Publishing
Release Date: 1st March 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
In 2012, journalist Hugo Meunier went undercover as a Walmart employee for three months in St. Leonard, Quebec, just north of Montreal.

In great detail, Meunier charts the daily life of an impoverished Walmart worker, referring to his shifts at the box store giant as "somewhere between the army and Walt Disney." Each shift began with a daily chant before bowing to customer demands and the constant pressure to sell. Meanwhile Meunier and his fellow workers could not afford to shop anywhere else but Walmart, further indenturing them to the multi-billion-dollar corporation.

Beyond his time on the shop floor, Meunier documents the extraordinary efforts that Walmart exerts to block unionization campaigns, including their 2005 decision to close their outlet in Jonquiere, QC, where the United Food and Commercial Workers union had successfully gained certification rights. A decade later he charts the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that exposed the dubious legal ground on which Walmart stood in invoking closure and throwing workers out on the street.

In Walmart: Diary of an Associate, Meunier reveals the truths behind Walmart's low prices; it will make you think twice before shopping there.


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REVIEW
I fancied reading something non-fiction for a change and I came across this book. Having worked in retail myself for quite a few (lot of) years I love reading these “tell all” type of books. The front cover depicts a large smiling face/logo as its main focus. I’m not sure if it is a logo linked to Walmart or maybe a logo that’s on a name badge or piece of uniform. (I am from the UK so though we have “Walmart” our stores are called “Asda”)

The book is about a journalist called Hugo Meunier and is written from his sole point of view. Hugo is used to the extremes of journalism such as sneaking into high class parties, to posing as a homeless man. This sort of job is apparently referred to as “immersion journalism” Hugo’s latest journalism job is to apply for and gain employment at Walmart and do a kind of exposé of what it is really like to work there. This book is set in the St Leonard Walmart Store, which is in Quebec just north of Montreal.

So to begin with Hugo goes into store to enquire about a job and is told to go home and apply online. Then there’s a telephone interview and then finally an “in person” interview described as a one to one. For this last part of the Interview, applicants are told it will take 2 hours! A woman called Caroline had been brought from headquarters in Toronto to conduct this part of the Interview. Caroline initially hands them all a name sticker and everyone sits in a circle. Then a list of questions is handed round but you don’t fill in your own answers you find out the details of the person next to you and stand up and introduce them to the rest of the group. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of this part of the Interviewing process that Hugo underwent before being offered a job. The whole group scenario was very familiar as it was so similar to my own group interview at WHSmiths about 19yrs ago it was eery! The purpose of the group is to act out scenarios you may come across within the store. Caroline instructs the group on how you could sell a mobile phone to an older person by saying it would be ideal to take photos of her grandchildren with!

Hugo does go into personal details about those who work with him. Such as the single mum who has to drop her child with a childminder and then rush to get to work on time. The young lads who messed about and got paid as much as the hard working older employees who worked hard every minute whilst at work. 

I don't wish to go into detail or mention more specifics of the diary/book as it would reveal too much and be in my opinion too "spoilery".

One revelation that left me shocked a little was the active discouragement from having or being part of a union. The fact a large store such as Walmart did not like unions and you could actually be in danger of losing your job by talking about a union never mind forming a union!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that though I had enjoyed reading most of the book it hadn't been as enjoyable as the supermarket checkout girl one I had read. Maybe because it was set in a different country, I'm not sure. I expected it to be a brilliantly funny read but it was a more serious book about a journalist going under cover to get the inside "dirt" on what it was like to work for Walmart.

To sum up the book was neither a funny diary, nor undercover diary/expose. I thought that the book ended a little bit abruptly at the end...personally I would have liked reactions or quotes from those workers mentioned/named in the book as to what they thought when Hugo was revealed as an undercover reporter.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

REVIEW - FROM THE GRAVE - MACKENZIE GRAY: TRIALS BY KARINA ESPINOSA

Mackenzie spent the last three years learning who she was in Origins. Now she will face her greatest challenges in Trials ......

Title: From The Grave
Series: Mackenzie Grey: Trials
Author: Karina Espinosa
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 13th December 2018

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Secrets don’t stay buried forever. 

Mackenzie Grey is a lone wolf who’s earned her fair share of battle scars from the past, but that’s all over now. Or so she thought. 


Known as the Freedom Princess, her heroic deeds have come with a heavy price when a mysterious new villain emerges, one who’s intent on killing Sebastian. As a new breed of danger lurks on the horizon, secrets between Bash and Kenz pile up and her worst nightmare is realized.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I felt a mixture of joy and disappointment as I finished reading the last book in the Mackenzie Grey Origins series. The ending was ... well it was wow! I loved the Origins series from the first book to the last page of the last book but it didn't stop me being disappointed that there was to be no more. Then when I heard that Karina Espinosa had more plans for Mackenzie Grey and she was coming back within another series called the Mackenzie Grey Trials I knew it was going straight on the top of my "Must read" list! In fact I didn't take the chance of missing it I actually pre-ordered it so that as soon as it was available it would immediately download to my kindle app to read! The other obvious reason I had mixed emotions was, the question of would this series be as good as the Origins one....read some more of my review to find out!

I really like the cover of this book as it could well be a photograph of the area where the Brooklyn Pack are situated. It's a great representation of the description of warehousing described in the book. The central part of the cover is of course the female figure which is Mackenzie confidently striding forward, her hair loose in the wind wearing a white vest top and her jeans with holes in them. Behind Mackenzie’s head there is the full moon which of course is an important feature within the book which affects wolves. There are also the two wolves at either side of Mackenzie, I'd say they are Bash and Jackson.

In this book everyone is trying to recover from the selfless act Jonah made at the end of the Origins series. Mackenzie & Sebastian are finally officially in a relationship, and it is commonly known that Sebastian/Bash is the true soul mate or “Anam Aonachid” of Mackenzie/Kenz who is now known as the freedom Princess. The still fairly fledgling relationship between Kenz & Bash is still struggling somewhat with the both of them keeping secrets from the other. Keeping these secrets create more secrets which turn into lies and more lies. I found myself sat on the edge of my seat waiting for one of them to discover the others secrets and lies!
The “Anam Aonachid” element of the book is a double-edged sword really as yes Kenz and Bash are deeply in love and meant to be together. Together they are also a formidable team. However if one of them dies the other will slowly go mad and die too, their bond is so strong and reliant on the other.

There were so many other plot lines within this book, one of the larger ones is the fact someone seems to be killing off pack Apha’s. Then there’s still Amy and her dilemma of whether to take the cure for vampirism and become mortal and human again. Though I would say it’s probably the most sensible thing to do with the dangerous kind of situations her and her friends keep finding themselves in.

As with the Origins series there is so much going on in this first book of the new Mackenzie series. There is so much potential for this new series too. There are all the different supernatural being’s that can be part of the series along with the different scenarios that the SIU can come up with for Mackenzie and the taskforce to have to deal with different law breakers. Then there is all the family interaction we can expect. Kenz has avoided visiting her adoptive parents and brother for as long as she can and in this book we see that the big tough Alpha of the Brooklyn Pack, Sebastian and his kick butt Freedom Princess, Mackenzie are in awe and actually nervous of visiting with Mackenzie’s human family. Mackenzie has kept her human family as far away as possible from her other life. They are still under the impression that Mackenzie works for a "normal" Police Force. There are some really funny scenes around the dinner table. Then of course Mackenzie calls on her brother Oliver Grey to help out within one of her investigations.

There are the usual fixes and problems that Kenz gets herself into using dark magic sources to trace fugitives or help those she loves. At some point Kenz will have to repay all her black-market favours. Lets hope they don't cost her more than she would wish to pay or cause her anymore problems.

Naming favourite characters is difficult because I like so many of them so
of course, there’s the usual suspects . . . er werewolves, Kenz, Bash, Jonah, and Jackson, along with vampire's Lucian and Amy are all still favourite characters. Even though certain characters are not in this series yet they are mentioned so I am also looking forward to hearing more from them in the future of this series.

I still like the character of Garrett Michaels who is Kenzie’s Police partner in the Special Investigations Unit and I think there is lots and lots of potential for stories around the SIU.

In this book we do learn more about Kenzie's human brother Ollie. A big tough army guy who is prepared to do anything to help out his adopted sister without asking too many questions even if it means putting himself in danger. It would be great if Oliver learnt the truth about the supernatural beings that live in plain sight within the “normal” world. Maybe Ollie could date a supernatural being?

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were Wow! What a great start to a possibly second fantastic series centred around Mackenzie Grey & Brooklyn Pack.

I could literally go on and on talking and writing this review about From The Grave, Bk 1 of the Trials Series. I have totally avoided explaining the relevance of the book title but once you read the book you will know why! I try not to give away too much story or any major spoilers whilst at the same time letting you all know how much I love the book. What’s left to say other than this one is a must read and the rest of the series is on my want to read wishlist.


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

REVIEW - 365 WAYS TO BEAT STRESS EDITED BY ADAM GORDON

Title: 365 Ways To Beat Stress
Edited by: Adam Gordon
Genre: Self Help
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Release Date: 19th February 2019

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No other book offers so many easy-to-use and diverse stress-relief techniques in a uniquely attractive gift package.

With a different technique or tip for each day of the year, no other book offers such a wide range of ways to release stress and anxiety, all set in an attractive illustrated design that will make dipping in for inspiration a joy. All the practices are effective yet also easy to follow, even if you have never tried them before, and range from energy techniques such as simple shiatsu, to quick stress fixes such as visualizing a blue bubble, to methods of life simplification such as avoiding a news overload and rationing your evenings out, to inspiring visualizations such as imagining yourself as the sky or as a lotus floating on water. This is one of the first two publications in a new 365 series from Watkins, showcasing easy, accessible and effective approaches to dealing with our demanding modern lives. Readers are free to work through the book in any order they like, either using the chapter headings to deal with aspects that they feel need particular attention (for example, home, work, relationships, mind and spirit, or stress and emotions), flicking through at random or selecting ideas in chronological order. There is no need to subscribe to any particular belief, lifestyle or long-term practice; this is simply a collection of brilliantly effective ideas that together have the potential to transform lives.


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
As I am a full time carer of my mum who is diabetic, has Menieres Disease, arthritis etc for ten years and then more recently my dad who has mixed dementia which consists of Vascular & Alzheimers, I am er. . .busy and naturally get stressed. Added to my own health issues I am always looking for ways to feel peaceful or de-stress so when I came across 365 ways to find peace I thought it may be helpful for me to read it and thinking along those same lines I decided this book might be a good book to read too. I mean I think if they are being honest most people will admit to being stressed out at some points in their life or work. I think we could all do with a little help to de-stress our lives.

The cover of this book has a pale. Pastel peach as its background and has feathers and butterflies which I guess when you think about those item’s they could relax you and so help with stress. Would this book cover stand out on a bookshelf? I can’t honestly say as it would depend on what other books is was nearby.

The genre of this book is self-help, though I think could fit into the “gift book” category. It could also be within the “new year/ new me” type of genre.

So what can I say for the book, well it was an interesting read but it mostly consisted of ways to de-stress that I already knew. I suppose if you sit down with a cuppa and this book that would be relaxing and help you de-stress too.

The books suggestions go into detail on how to achieve the best results by doing things such as “Wake up naturally” and “Engage all five senses.” The one I often do is “Sing in the Shower”. The book continues suggesting “Put on a bright shirt”, “Decide to be happy”. The suggestion/way to that I loved was “Read a classic” Well I don’t read many classic books but I do find that reading does reduce my stress level. Whether its reading a magazine, a newspaper, a textbook, or a fictional story, they all provide escape from whatever is/was stressing you!

This book was fairly interesting to read as an ebook, but personally I think it would be much better to read as a physical book. I feel some books are just better in a physical format to flick back and forth through.



It would make a good gift idea for someone. As the title says 365 Ways to beat stress as a physical book it could be read on a daily basis. 


Friday, 15 February 2019

REVIEW - 365 WAYS TO FIND PEACE BY MARCUS BRAYBROOKE

Title: 365 Ways To Find Peace
Byline: Meditations and Inspirations for Calm and Contentment
Author: Marcus Braybrooke
Genre: Self Help
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Release Date: 19th February 2019

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No other book contains such a wide range of accessible, effective and inspiring self-calming techniques, drawn from traditions and literature from around the world, both secular and religious.

With a different meditation or inspiration for each day of the year, this is a wonderfully inspiring collection that will open readers' hearts and mind and show them the way to peace and contentment whatever their mood or situation. A fresh, attractive design featuring sympathetic line drawings adds to the appeal of this gift package. Author Marcus Braybrooke has drawn upon poetry and prose, sacred and secular, from all around the world and from all ages, from the Upanishads and the Tao Te Ching to the speeches of Mahatma Gandhi and the great 19th and 20th-century poets such as Walt Whitman, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens and Seamus Heaney. 

The inspirations and meditations are arranged thematically, following a structure that reflects the idea of love radiating outward - from self-esteem, the acknowledge of spirit within oneself; through love for family and friends; through love for humankind in general; to love for the One, the spiritual essence that animates all existence. Readers can choose to follow this order, or dip into the book at random, or select an area that they feel particularly drawn to work on. Containing the wisdom of all the world's great spiritual traditions, this is a book that will appeal to people of all faiths, as well as to those who believe in spiritual values without subscribing to a particular religion or even belief in a divinity.


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW
As a full time carer for my mum who is diabetic, has Menieres Disease, arthritis etc for ten years and then more recently my dad who has mixed dementia which consists of Vascular & Alzheimers, I am er. . .busy and naturally get stressed. Added to my own health issues I am always looking for ways to feel peaceful or de-stress so when I came across 365 ways to find peace I thought it may be helpful for me to read it.

The byline says, "meditations and inspirations" and that made me even more eager to read the book. The cover is a colour that is often used to represent calm and peace and features what I would say are koi fish and to symbolise calm well. 

The genres this book falls into are self help, and I would also put it into the gift book category.

The book consists of different things well known people have said such as, 
"A DROP IN THE OCEAN, We ourselves feel that we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." - Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 1910-1997, India.
And the following second example.
"COMPASSION, If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." - The Buddha c.c.483bce, India.


This was quite interesting to read as an ebook, but personally I think it would make a brilliant gift idea for someone. As I think a physical copy of this book would be easily dipped in and out of on a daily basis throughout the year. 

Friday, 8 February 2019

REVIEW - BLACK ICE - AFTER THE SHIFT BY GRACE HAMILTON

Title: Black Ice
Series: After The Shift
Author: Grace Hamilton
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Climate Change
Release Date: 10th January 2019

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Losses pile up like the snowdrifts of a never-ending winter in this post-apocalyptic series conclusion. 

Nathan Tolley’s wife is gone, leaving him adrift in a vast ocean of bitter white that promises nothing but heartache and despair. Yet, his weary band of travelers continue to look to him to secure their safety. But Nate’s no leader. Every decision he’s made on their dangerous cross-country journey has taken them from bad to worse. First Detroit. Then Chicago. Now, Wyoming, which proves the deadliest of all. 

As circumstances continue to deteriorate like the weather, Nate turns their sights south, but the past is about to catch up to them in ways none of them will see coming. And in order to embrace an uncertain future, sacrifices must be made. 

Survival of the fittest gets real—fast. 

And, this time, it’s personal. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As soon as I heard this one was available to read I knew I had to have it and read it as soon as possible! After the ending of Killing Frost where a major much loved character was killed off I wanted to know how the remaining characters in the group of traveler's would cope. Would their plans have to change? Would the death be the beginnings of the group breaking up? Yep, I had loads of questions I needed answering.

This book cover fits well with the rest of the series with its blue tones and icy imagery that makes you feel cold and shivery looking at it. These covers really do set the scene described within the books really well. I wanted to know who was the lonely figure on the book cover and why they were alone. To be honest this cover could fit several scenes described within the book with quite a few character possibilities for the lonely figure. I think the cover fits the whole “climate change” themes within the book too. Black Ice fits well into the post-apocalyptic genre, with what some could say has futuristic elements, so dystopian and Sci-Fi genre too.

I loved the fact there was a small re-cap chapter at the beginning of the book and then, . . well then, we were straight back into the drama filled, action packed plot. The group go through more and more hazardous situations from a town they were hoping to settle in arguing amongst themselves so the group gives that town a miss. They also come into contact with another weirdo who wants to pull them into his cult. It seems just when things improve for the group they are hit with another dangerous situation. They almost consider staying in Denver as there are FEMA officers there, then when they are forced to ask for access to the hospital, they find out that Denver is even more lawless than other places they have left. It seems that everyone is just out for themselves even more. There are two rival gangs fighting each other and setting up tolls to stop any newcomers and past them from their valuables. Even more worrying is the fact when Nathan tries to catch up with Tommy etc he decides it best to approach the FEMA army toll, preparing to give up a few weapons and maybe ammo but he is told that isn’t nearly enough. Nathan has to turn away from the toll and think about a way to break in or buy their way in and out.
It is whilst the group are finding each other and trying to escape that an awful character from their past shows up! One question I was asking myself throughout the whole book, even at the end was Can Nathan and his friends ever truly evade Brant and his bully boys or will there be one last battle?
I found the herbal remedies that came from the handwritten book entrusted to them interesting especially the fact Lucy seems to have appointed herself the keeper of the book and herbs.

Even as the characters are dealing with the hazards of this new world, I still enjoyed reading the incidents and sections that covered the normal growing up of Tony Tolley. He first becomes a more confident boy who looks after his baby brother and has a malamute dog as a friend. Then as time goes on, he shows he has a “good head on his shoulders” remaining calm in situations grown men and women would not cope with. At one point in the book Tony proves he is a valuable part of the group when he tips the odds back into favouring the group and turns a deadly situation around.
I thought Syd was a great kick butt, mature, savvy and sassy female character who has a knack of acting older than her actual age. Though Syd returns to the survivors group and re-integrates well, she still has her mysterious, quieter, private side and the strong possibility of keeping secrets. Syd is a good friend to Tony and seems to have a way with words and a knack to know when Nathan needs her around.
To say I was not keen on Tommy is an understatement. Even though he had previously helped Cyndi rescue Nathan. In this book he seemed somewhat cantankerous, moody and wanting to continually take the opposite view than the majority of the group. He really didn't like Lucy making any future plans for the group or even her expressing her opinion at all. I can understand him wanting his say and obviously he always has the option of going his own way, no one is forcing him to stay with the group. He irritated me so much in this book at times I felt I wanted to violently shake him by the shoulders and tell him to get over himself!
I found the addition of the new character of Arctic, who turns out to be an ace sniper interesting and maybe if there is more to come from this series, she will feature in it more.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were, that I really appreciated the initial little catch up at the very start of the book. Then we were launched straight back into the drama and the Post-Apocalyptic setting within the no government, no law world. Black Ice introduced more new characters as well as having some old ones return to the group. Will there be a book four? Yet at the same time I was wondering what else could happen to Nathan and his friends?

My final thoughts are that this series could now have come to its completion with how this book concludes. Having said that I would eagerly read another in this series and I definitely intend to read more books by this author, both in the series I have already started and anything new by Grace Hamilton. There was possibly a hint when Nathan says he is happy where he is at the moment but maybe things will change in the future. I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for more!