Good message

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In Bon Bons to Yoga Pants, Lexie Greene begins making healthier lifestyle choices with the help of the Health and Happiness Society, a group where people meet to discuss their challenges with diet, exercise and other issues.

This is an enjoyable, inspirational story, and I can relate to Lexie looking to food for comfort.  I do well as far as exercise.  I like sweets though, so I’m in the process of learning to make better food choices. This process has its good and bad days.

The characters are likable, and the message that it isn’t your looks, weight or other people that define you and that you have worth simply because you exist are good ones.  There is no way you can possibly please or impress everyone, and trying to do so is a waste of time and energy.  I like how Lexie works on having a better relationship with her family, and I like the interaction between Lexie and Rachelle.  I like the interaction between Lexie and Bradley also, and how Bradley doesn’t think Lexie has to be perfect.

I would recommend Bon Bons to Yoga Pants for its positive message, and I plan to read the rest of the books in the Health and Happiness Society series as soon as I’m able.

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Creating the Best Me-Devin Joubert

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In Creating the Best Me:  A Creative Plan to Help You Live Your Best Life, the author offers some good advice on creating your best physical, mental and spiritual life.  She speaks from personal experience.  The author wasn’t happy with where she was physically, mentally and spiritually, so she made changes to become the person she wants to be.

The topics addressed include getting enough sleep, a healthier diet (i.e. less sugar and more fruits and vegetables), exercising regularly, and not being defined by a negative inner voice or negative people.  I can relate to how making changes in these areas help in developing a healthier life.  I like how the author suggests creative activities to assist in improvement in physical, mental and spiritual issues.  I also like how the author suggests taking one step at a time and setting aside time for relaxation and recharging.

Creating the Best Me is enjoyable, and the writing style is open and friendly.  I would recommend this book.

 

 

 

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

 

In Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, people in the small town of Deer Park, Texas start disappearing, and this seems to be connected with the sudden appearance of a mysterious museum that hadn’t been there before.

When Perrie Madeline’s best friend Maisie and ex-boyfriend Neven go missing, Perrie goes on a quest to find them with the help of her friend August.

Pros:  I love the gorgeous cover, and the premise is imaginative.  I like how the author bases the museum on different fairy tales and myths.  I like the characters, especially Maisie.  There is an unexpected twist towards the end of the book that is interesting.

Cons:  Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is darker than what I normally read; there is definitely an element of creepiness.  I realize that is probably the point, but there is a little too much creepiness for my taste.  This book is promoted as YA and in my opinion there is material that isn’t suitable for readers under age 17.   The book also ends in a total cliffhanger.  I don’t mind a book series, but I have trouble when the next book in the series is required to really understand what is happening.  I like books that don’t leave a lot of loose ends and unanswered questions.

For the most part, I enjoyed Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault.  However, it’s not something I’d go out of my way to read again, and I’m not going to rush to read the second book in the series.  I would be interested in checking out other books by the author though.

Peggy Sue Got Murdered-Tess Gerritsen

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When several drug addicts die under unusual circumstances, assistant coroner M.J.  Novak discovers there is a new street drug that can be traced to a pharmaceutical company.  The drug isn’t supposed to be available to the public; it is still in the experimental stage.  M.J. is determined to warn the public of the dangerous new drug and has to deal with uncaring officials. The investigation uncovers corruption in high places, and M.J. finds love in the process.

The plot is fast-paced and engaging, the characters are well-developed and the setting is interesting.  I saw Massachusetts and Maine on a family trip a number of years ago; the East Coast is beautiful.  M.J. is a fighter, but there is a vulnerable person afraid of being hurt underneath the surface.  Adam appears to be a privileged person with no worries, but he is actually a caring individual with his own vulnerabilities and fears.  I like the interaction between M.J. and Adam.  The differences in M.J.’s and Adam’s backgrounds are a challenge, and this makes for some interesting dialogue between the characters.

Tess Gerritsen started out writing romance novels and then transitioned to crime.  The two genres are combined in this book and Ms. Gerritsen does this well. The killer could have been several characters. The identity of the murderer isn’t revealed until the end and is an unexpected twist.  Peggy Sue Got Murdered is worth reading.  The book was republished a few years ago under the name Girl Missing.  I read a sample and the plot appears to be the same with different names for the characters.  I want to read the new version when I get a chance to see what changes were made. 

The Mysterious Affair At Styles

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Wealthy Emily Inglethorp dies late one night, and the cause of death is found to be strychnine. Lieutenant Arthur Hastings asks his friend Hercule Poirot to help with the investigation.  Poirot pieces together the events leading up to Mrs. Inglethorp’s murder and figures out who killed her.

This book is enjoyable.  Agatha Christie does a good job of keeping the reader guessing.  Poirot is an engaging character, and I like the interaction between him and the other characters.  There are a number of people who would have a motive for killing Emily Inglethorp, particularly her considerably younger second husband Alfred Inglethorp and her stepson John Cavendish.  The way Poirot gets the information he needs to find out who committed the murder and why is interesting.  I also like the setting, England during WWI.  The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920, and is written in the style of detective stories at the time.  The story is told in the first person, the events take place in a large, isolated country manor, there are a half dozen suspects hiding things about themselves, and there are plot twists and red herrings.

I watched some of the Miss Marple mysteries that were on the Masterpiece Mystery! TV show a long time ago, but this is the first Agatha Christie book I’ve had the opportunity to read.  I want to read more of her books as I’m able.

 

The Ultimate Deception-Ray Comfort

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The author makes some good points about Christianity and salvation in his book The Ultimate Deception.  I agree with the idea that people tend to become disillusioned when they realize that being a Christian doesn’t equal a problem free existence or mean things will always go well, and I can understand why that happens.

I think the author is sincere in his desire for people to understand God loves them.  He states he believes Jesus is the way to eternal life, and I am in agreement with him there.  However, there are flaws in his approach.  First of all, the author seems to think church attendance equals salvation or makes you a Christian.  It does not say anywhere in the Bible that church attendance is what saves us.  I think church is important.  You need to connect with other believers, but it is not what saves you.  Salvation is a free gift from God.  Jesus died in our place to fulfill the law of sin and death, and we are no longer under the curse of the law.  Salvation isn’t something that has to be earned or that we can earn.  If that was the case, there would have been no reason for Jesus to die and rise again.

Secondly, the author seems to think making mistakes equals condemnation.  While I agree that obedience is important, it should be God’s love that motivates us to be obedient, not fear and condemnation.  There is no condemnation for those in Christ; death is defeated by Jesus’ work at the Cross.  We have to learn to follow God’s path, and that is a process.  He doesn’t take away His gift because we mess up and have things we need to allow Him to change.  Being a Christian doesn’t equal perfection or mean we won’t make mistakes.  Christians are still imperfect humans.

Finally, the author appears to take it upon himself to decide whether someone’s salvation or conversion experience is real or not.  He has no business doing this, particularly with people he doesn’t know personally.  That is between the individual and God.  I sort of wonder where he got his statistics about church attendance and backsliding.  Yes, obedience is important, and there are consequences for disobedience, but the purpose is to get us back on the right path, not condemnation.

I don’t know the author and haven’t discussed his views with him, which is why I use the terms “seems to” and “appears to”.  It is possible that part of the problem is poor editing or poor organization of the material. There is nothing wrong with sharing your beliefs with others.  However, what happens after that is up to the person.  I don’t think a militant approach accomplishes anything or motivates people in a positive way.  You can’t force others to believe the way you do, and that applies to anyone.  It’s also probably wiser to talk about your beliefs with people you know and have established a relationship with rather than approaching strangers.

I did like The Ultimate Deception in spite of the issues I mentioned, but it’s not something I will go out of my way to read again.

The Silver Music Box

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In The Silver Music Box, Johann Blumenthal, a Jewish silversmith and jeweler, makes a silver music box for his son Paul before leaving to fight for Germany in World War I.  The box is passed to Paul’s daughter Margarethe, and then later to a young woman named Lilian Morrison, who goes on a quest to find out where the box comes from and uncovers unexpected information about her past.

This is a touching historical novel that starts during World War 1 and continues through World War II and into the 1960s. The Blumenthal family, after living in Germany for generations, loses their business because they are Jewish.  They lay low for a while and make plans to immigrate to Cape Town, South Africa but run into some obstacles.

The Silver Music Box is engaging and well-written.  The author captures the horror of the Holocaust very well, but there is underlying hope also.  The book moves through the different time settings smoothly, and that can be a challenge. The settings-Germany, Cape Town and London-are interesting, as is the historical setting.  I realized a lot of Jews immigrated to the Netherlands, U.S. and other countries to escape the Holocaust, but wasn’t aware there was a Jewish community in Cape Town.

The constant throughout the story is the music box.  The music box is the key to Lilian coming to terms with the unexpected information and meeting members of her biological family.  I like the parts of the book focusing on Johann and Paul better than the part focusing on Lilian.  I understand her pain and confusion at finding out things aren’t what they seem, but she isn’t very likable.  However, this doesn’t detract from the overall story. I would recommend The Silver Music Box.  It is worth reading for the historical content alone.