In the Bookcase

9.23.2016

Book Review: Go Big or Go Home

Go Big Or Go Home by Scotty McCreery (5 star review)


Go Big Or Go Home // written by Scotty McCreery, with Travis Thrasher

256 pages // published in 2016 // music biography


BOOK DESCRIPTION

It was just a simple singing competition that would be fun to audition for. Who knew what kind of doors it might open for a sixteen-year-old from Garner, North Carolina.

Go Big or Go Home is the story of a kid with country songs in his soul. The special thing with Scotty McCreery, however, is that he has this God-given ability to sing those tunes the exact way they should be sung. Daring to enter the limelight at such a young age, Scotty finds himself embraced by the nation, and even overseas, as he competes on "American Idol". This is his journey from his North Carolina roots to winning America’s most popular singing competition and launching a musical career he had always dreamt about.

Go Big or Go Home narrates Scotty's journey from a kid imitating Elvis on the school bus to 30 million across America tuning in to see him win Season 10 of "American Idol”. Now as he completes his ground-breaking fourth album, Scotty shares a glimpse of where he came from and the impact his faith, family and friends have had on a humbled guy who keeps asking “why me?”



My Review...

5 Star Rating

This isn't Scotty McCreery's autobiography -- he tells you so himself. Simply put, it's his story about a journey he's been through, covering the last few (roller-coaster) years of his life. And it all comes right from Scotty's own words -- it feels exactly like he's sitting down with you, sharing some his unique experiences, as friends do.

Hailing from American Idol fandom, Scotty's singing career took off like a rocket, whether he was ready or not. You get direct glimpses into his life growing up, how it felt appearing on the television screen each week, and the prep work involved with choosing the perfect (or sometimes not-so-perfect) song to get him through each round of the competition.

He's got some solid stories to share with interested readers. Sometimes sharing a happy story, events that turned out to be a "God thing" (nothing short of miracles), or sharing how certain negative experiences changed him into something better. This is good stuff -- and if you're a fan of his, you'll definitely love it.

What I love the most? Scotty openly talks about his Savior. He gives God the glory for putting Scotty in the place he's made it to in life. Faith and prayer are key elements of Scotty's daily life, no matter where he is in the world on any given day. Truly, his story is all the more inspiring because he makes sure that you understand he couldn't have done it himself.

The book reads like how a personal conversation would flow. It always kept my interest, and I couldn't wait to see what Scotty would share next. Go Big or Go Home is a fantastic behind-the-scenes look of the American Idol competition and a peek into Scotty's childhood, family, and faith. Plus his Elvis obsession, to boot. This kid is the real deal. He's true to himself and the public.

Who would be interested in this book? Honestly, a lot of people: American Idol and/or Scotty McCreery fans, country music fans (a great gift for a teen or grandchild, perhaps), NC State Wolfpack fans (I mean, Scotty gave them sooo many plugs in this book), actually anyone who lives in North Carolina (he's stunningly proud of his state and hometown of Garner). Other than that, it's a great read for anyone who just wants to read about this teenage (well, he's in his twenties now) American Idol winner and maybe even glean some encouragement.

I couldn't put this book down. (And when I did have to put it down, then I couldn't wait to get back to it!)

Go Big Or Go Home is available on Amazon in hardcover, audio and e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


9.21.2016

Book Review: Hawaii (Travels with Gannon and Wyatt)

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Hawaii by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet (5 star review)


Hawaii // from the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series

written by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet

200 pages // published in 2016 // middle grade adventure


BOOK DESCRIPTION

A HIGH-ALTITUDE BLIZZARD, BUBBLING RIVERS OF LAVA, AND BEACHES WITH RAGING SURF; one thing’s for sure: The Hawaiian Islands offer no shortage of adventure! Teaming up with fellow explorer, Alana Aukai, thrill-seeking twins Gannon and Wyatt begin an expedition to study rarely visited parts of this Pacific paradise. When an ancient map is found on a drowning archeologist, the explorers shift their attention to uncovering the map’s secrets. To their astonishment, they discover that it might lead to one of Hawaii’s most puzzling mysteries—the burial place of the islands’ most-revered ruler, King Kamehameha the Great! Adding danger to an already perilous journey, someone else is after the map—someone who seems willing to do just about anything to get it.

In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook comes the adventure series Travels with Gannon & Wyatt. From Africa to the South Pacific, these twin brothers have traveled the world. You never know what they will encounter as they venture into the wild, but one thing is certain—wherever Gannon and Wyatt go, adventure is their constant companion.

You can find Gannon and Wyatt’s blog, photographs, and video footage from their real-life expeditions at travelswithgannonandwyatt.com.



My Review...

5 Star Rating

On a trip to Hawaii, twin explorers Gannon and Wyatt get a once-in-a-lifetime experience exploring the islands.

After the boys attempt to rescue a drowning man in the ocean, they are handed a map -- which holds hidden secrets about ancient burial grounds... and with it, there's a new quest for Gannon and Wyatt! From snow-filled mountains, to the tropical beaches, Hawaii is turning out to be quite different than the twins expected.

What I liked? Even as an adult reader, I found myself discovering interesting tidbits about Hawaii, its heritage, and culture. It's an adventure that includes cool facts about history and geography, so you're actually learning as you read. I like the idea that these boys are homeschooled, and have the opportunity to travel the world with their parents and experience many kinds of cultures. (These boys are going to be well-rounded adults one day!)

I think boys and girls will love this book and the whole series. It's fun to read, and parents will approve of the "education" one can glean from the pages of each book.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Hawaii is available on Amazon in hardcover and e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


9.14.2016

Just how long does it take to write a classic?

For some writers, it can seem like the act of penning the greatest work of your life would seemingly take years.

But there are other writers, who in a burst of inspiration, pour out their heart on paper and finish something great in a time period that could almost be calculated in hours.

This chart provided by Printerinks tells us how long the writing process took for some of the most important books of society.

It's pretty cool.




9.03.2016

Book Review: The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories

The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories by Otto Penzler (5 star review)


The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories

collected & edited by Otto Penzler

816 pages // published in 2015 // short story mysteries


BOOK DESCRIPTION

Presenting Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler's latest anthology, The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, the largest collection of Sherlockian tales ever assembled—now in a deluxe hardcover edition, perfect for the collector and gift markets.

Arguably no other character in history has been so enduringly popular as Sherlock Holmes. From his first appearance, in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1887 novella A Study in Scarlet,readers have loved reading about him—and writers have loved writing about him. Here, Otto Penzler collects 83 wonderful stories about Holmes and Dr. John Watson, the majority of which will be new to readers. Among these pages are tales by acclaimed Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (Kenneth Millar, P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman); and parodies by Conan Doyle's contemporaries James M. Barrie, O. Henry, and August Derleth.



My Review...

5 Star Rating

This book took me on a WILD RIDE through the authentic character of Sherlock Holmes. (And I mean that in the most positive of ways.) By the time I finished, I felt that I learned about every facet of Sherlock's mind that is imaginable... and then some. In short, this book is awesome.

At over 800 pages long, it's definitely a big tome. Me? I read it on my Kindle, and yeah, I took my time reading it over the course of several months -- but only to savor each story, consider each new twist, and attempt to put my deduction skills to work before Sherlock would finalize the conclusion, of course.

I don't think I ever realized until now how much so that each of Doyle's stories follows a similar pattern. It wasn't until I saw dozens of these authors recreate Sherlock in their individual ways, yet usually always following the same pattern that I began to see some of the finer details of Doyle's original work. That makes this book enlightening to me. Not only did I discover more about my favorite fictional detective of all time, but also about the man who created him -- yes, through fiction based on his work. Honestly, I learned so much about the Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by reading about his writings through the eyes of his fellow authors and apparent fans.

This brings me to my next topic -- the variety of authors presented in this volume is unbelievable and completely mind-blowing! From writers contemporary to Doyle's time, such as P.G. Wodehouse, or J.M. Barrie, to much more modern-day writers such as Stephen King, and many, oh so very many others in between. Plus, since each story is accompanied with a short bio of each author in the book, I learned about so many new-to-me writers that I'm interested in now.

I found out that these authors like to induct Doyle himself into the fictional world, and it's fun. One or two like to have Watson solve a case and beat out everyone who ever stereotyped him as a bumbling fool. I found out that they also like to come up with tons of curious, off-brand names such as Shamrock Jolnes, etc., for their lead detective.

If you or a person you know is fond of mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, or detective work in any way... this is the volume you need to buy. For anyone interested in these topics, this book is priceless.

This is one of my favorite reads this year -- definitely! It took a long time to make it through this book... but it was worth it!! Having the opportunity to read The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories is like rediscovering Sherlock all over again for the first time.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories is available on Amazon in paperback, hardcover, e-book, and audio format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


8.31.2016

Book Review: Greenland (Travels with Gannon and Wyatt)

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Greenland by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet (5 star review)


Greenland // from the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series

written by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet

176 pages // published in 2014 // middle grade adventure


BOOK DESCRIPTION

Upon arriving in Ilulissat, Greenland, Gannon and Wyatt prepare for the adventure of a lifetime—a dogsled expedition in the Arctic! But before the explorers even crack a whip, they receive a desperate mayday call from an Inuit family that is stranded in the far north. Suddenly, Gannon and Wyatt’s expedition to study climate change and Greenlandic culture turns into something far more dangerous—a mission to save lives. As they rush north to rescue the family, led by Inuit guides, the brothers must steer clear of deadly hidden crevasses, hungry polar bears, and bitter cold as they race into an Arctic super-storm, putting even more lives in jeopardy—their own.

In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook comes the adventure series Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. From Africa to the South Pacific, these twin brothers have traveled the world. You never know what they will encounter as they venture into the wild, but one thing is certain wherever Gannon and Wyatt go, adventure is their constant companion.

You can find Gannon and Wyatt’s blog, photographs, and video footage from their real-life expeditions at travelswithgannonandwyatt.com.



My Review...

5 Star Rating

Twin explorers, Gannon and Wyatt strike out again... for Greenland! They're dog-sledding, learning about Greenland's culture, and experiencing the extreme situations of the unique climate and frozen land.

This time they receive a Arctic mission to help Inuit villagers in need -- while facing deadly elements. Truly they're racing against time, or else the mission fails. Can they beat the polar bears, the ice crevasses, the cold winds, and keep their dogs on the right track?

The boys learn a lot in this book, not just about Greenland's unique culture and land -- but also human lessons about sacrifice and respect. They pen their thoughts down on all these topics (and more) in their journal. So we get to read all about their exploration from each boy's perspective.

I like how the reader gets to learn about geography, foreign languages and other educational tidbits in a fictional story -- or rather, an exciting adventure!

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Greenland is available on Amazon in hardcover and e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!