Nonfiction

Book Review: How to Tell Fate from Destiny: And Other Skillful Word Distinctions

How to Tell Fate from Destiny: And Other Skillful Word Distinctions
Author: 
Elster, Charles Harrington
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I’ve written blog posts and recorded vlogs about writers who seem to rely
on spell check to make sure they’re using the right word. Most of the time,
they probably didn’t have an adequate editor to review their manuscript and
thus didn’t check whether or not they were using the right word (even if
the wrong word is spelled correctly). With the state of the printed word
slipping year after year, a book like How to Tell Fate from Destiny should be
a standard reference on any writer’s desk. Although, many of the words
covered in this book are slowly changing due to idiomatic circumstances.

It is slightly encouraging to see examples provided in this book from
reputable sources (like well-known newspapers and magazines) that still have
these common errors in their writing. If anything, these examples prove how
difficult it can be to distinguish the correct word usage over the more
familiar word usage. Granted, many of the “correct” words don’t sound
right to the common ear. However, those who want to show they are
professional via their writing need to hold to these steadfast style guides
and usage manuals (many of which are referenced throughout).

One of my qualms with this book is the large amount of semi-obscure
vocabulary it covers. There were plenty of pages filled with words I had
never seen and will likely never use in my writing. Perhaps this book is best
used by those who consider themselves “literary” writers and thus end up
using words that sound much loftier than they are. If anything, this book
proves that professional writing abides by the idiom of “keep it simple,
stupid.” Many of the Mark Twain quotes contained in this book say as much.

A useful resource for writers, especially those with a grandiloquent
vocabulary, I give How to Tell Fate from Destiny 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.
Genres: 

Book Review: Zen and the Art of Happiness

Zen and the Art of Happiness
Author: 
Prentiss, Chris
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This non-fiction book is a great guide full of life improvement tips.
In this book, Chris Prentiss guides you through different strategies on how to be the best you, how to be the happiest you, and so on. The author teaches you different ways to be happy based on many Chinese philosophies and personal experience. What I liked about this book, was how simple it was. The methods presented by the author can be done by anybody and doesn’t require anything else, yet, he still shows how effective his methods are through telling stories about successful friends of his who listened to his advice.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: The Cozy Life

The Cozy Life
Author: 
Edberg, Pia
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This guide provides an interesting approach to improving your life at home with a danish concept called hygge. In this book, different and interesting danish methods are presented, including how to make the most of your time with loved ones, what to avoid when participating in hygge, how to make your house a more relaxing atmosphere. Towards the end, there is a cookbook sharing many of the author’s favorite danish dishes. I found this book very helpful at giving ideas on ways to make your living space more relaxed and inviting, using things like lighting, plants, and cleanliness. In conclusion, I think this would be a nice book for anyone looking for ideas to throw a family reunion or looking to be a little more relaxed.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: Right This Very Minute

Right This Very Minute
Author: 
Detlefsen, Lisl H.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Do you know where your food comes from? Each meal (or snack) you eat comes to you compliments of a farmer. This simple book details the stories of the varied food that children are eating. You’ll learn about the breakfast of pancakes, orange juice, and maple syrup and the trail mix snack. You’ll also learn about the lunch, dinner, and dessert and where they come from. This book doesn’t stop there. It encourages you to think like a farmer and begin to grow your own food.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: Fantastic Fingerprint Art: Pets and Farm Animals

Fantastic Fingerprint Art: Pets and Farm Animals
Author: 
Bailey, Susannah and Daubney, Kate
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Using some paint, pens, and your fingers, you can make amazing fingerprint art! This title in the series concentrates on animals – both pets and farm animals. You can experiment with making lizards, fish, and birds or create a variety of bunnies and chinchillas. There are many animals to choose from. Which ones will be your favorites?

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol
Genres: 

Book Review: Weather Words and What They Mean

Weather Words and What They Mean
Author: 
Gibbons, Gail
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Gail Gibbons has another winning book with her updated Weather Words and What They Mean. She uses simple language to explain weather terminology and meteorology. You can learn about temperature, air pressure, moisture, and wind. Our weather is always changing. Learn about what causes the changes and how they might affect us. Also, learn some interesting weather facts. Remember to heed storm warnings and be careful in serious weather.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: Give Bees a Chance

Give Bees a Chance
Author: 
Barton, Bethany
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Many of us don’t appreciate the amazing things that bees do for our world – we’re much too afraid of being stung! This book is for bee-phobics. In an interactive way, Give Bees a Chance tells about different kinds of bees, types of honeybees, bee anatomy, and honey. You’ll also learn why bees sting and the impact that bees have on our food chain. Please, please, please Give Bees a Chance!

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol
Genres: 

Book Review: Lincoln's Last Trial

Lincoln's Last Trial
Author: 
Abrams, Dan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lincoln's Last Trial was a fantastic read and I could not recommend it more. The book follows Robert Roberts Hitt, a steno man - one who records what is said during a trial. His latest job is a trial where Peachy Quinn Harrison was accused of murder. Abraham Lincoln, a well-known lawyer, is hired to defend him. This trial's victory is what ended up launching Lincoln into the presidency, and was the presidential candidate's last murder trial. Everything said in this book is true, but it is written in the style of a fictional book, making it an easy read for anyone. As the author follows Hitt in the buildup to the trial and during it, he discusses various things relating to the events occurring at the time. This makes the pace of the book fairly slow, as lots of information is given in-between events, but it is certainly worth it. Lincoln's genius as a lawyer, the advice he gave to law students, and details only his friends would know (he kept papers for cases in his hat!) are all revealed. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, especially if law, history, and government are of interest.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rosina R.

Book Review: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös
Author: 
Heiligman, Deborah
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Once there was a boy who loved math. He loved math so much that he spent all of his time thinking about numbers. He spent so much time with math that he couldn’t do many things that ordinary people do. The biography tells the story of Paul Erdos, one of the greatest mathematicians, and how he found his way in the world sharing his ideas and love of math.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: The Baby Owner's Manual

The Baby Owner's Manual
Author: 
Borgenicht, Louis and Joe
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

You might be shocked to learn that some men do read the instructions. There have been numerous products that I have purchased over the years which necessitated a read-through of the instructions provided. Usually, these were items of extreme complexity or of thorough interest to me to require fully understanding the items before beginning to use them. The Baby Owner’s Manual might seem like a humorous fusion of a parenting book with a repair manual for a vehicle, but somehow the fusion of these two works better than I would have ever expected.

Published by Quirk Books (who have created other genius mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Shakespeare’s Star Wars ), The Baby Owner’s Manual takes the complicated and frightening task of keeping a newborn alive and presents the necessary information in a format that any guy can understand. In fact, aside from a few choice substitutions that make a baby seem more like a car than a human, I’d probably keep this book as a useful reference any time something I don’t know how to handle comes up. This will likely be often considering my first child is due near the end of the year.

The only qualm I might have with this book is that some studies have come out since 2003 that have changed a few suggestions the book gives these new parents. Of course, any well-prepared parents will probably be able to pick these inconsistencies out and follow the more current recommendations. In the
end, though, the direct and straightforward method this book uses to convey its information makes it far more useful than just as a gag gift (I’m looking at you, How to Traumatize Your Children).

An instruction manual every man should read, I give The Baby Owner’s Manual 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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