Reading Fanatic Reviews

Books to Add to Your TBR list... or Not!



Speaking of Feminism by Rachel S. Seidman

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and

Speaking of Feminism*

Modern Voices of Feminism

This book is a collection of social history interviews of women who are prominent either nationally or locally in the feminist movement. For some reason, the author restricts herself to women between the ages of 20 and 50. This is such a fascinating read that I find myself curious about what the interviews would have looked like with women who are older feminists. After all, 50 is still relatively young in general and particularly if you look at the broader history of the feminist movement. In fact, those around the age of 50 would have been children during the feminist wave of the late 1960s and early 1970s. So I would have loved to have seen interviews with the still-living women who might have been a part of that particular wave. That said, this book does give fascinating insights into the lives and minds of 25 unabashed feminists. Their individual journeys are both unique and universal. With three decades looked at, are there are definitely generational differences between how they came to feminism and how they approach it now. I like how the book looks at feminism’s past, present, and future.

With the #MeToo movement, women’s marches, pink hats, and media leaders like Samantha Bee, feminism and all that it means is at the forefront of national consciousness quite often. As it well should be, because these issues matter to more than the just over 50% of the population that women are.

What Does It Feel Like to Die? by Jennie Dear

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Angus & Robertson, and

What Does It Feel Like to Die?*

Scientific and Practical Guide to Death and Dying

As an RN who has seen death firsthand, I was curious about what this book had to offer. The author is a hospice volunteer, so she does have some viable personal insights into death and dying, and she has gone further and talked with medical professionals, some of whom specialize in palliative care, and studied current research into death and dying. She also shares some of her personal experience in dealing with her own mother’s death. If one is up for reading the science, I believe that this book would be helpful for those who are newly diagnosed with a terminal illness and for family members touched by such. The book not only looks at the physical aspect dying process itself (insofar as we can know it) but also at coping with it and getting your affairs in order. You’ll learn a little about the hospice system, which is not as well understood as it could be.

I feel like the book should have actually been several books: one just for the person who is dying, one for family members, one for caregivers, and one that speaks directly to the science of it all. At times, this book does feel like it is trying to be too much to too many types of people, so a specialized set of books would be more helpful. For instance, I believe that a simplified, well-organized version would be fantastic for the person who is actually dying, stressing the situations so they will run across in the physical aspect as well as the mental and financial preparation.

I find myself wondering at the statistic that she gave in the beginning, that 90% of us will die after living with a disease for days, weeks, or years. I don’t quite buy that, or at least, wouldn’t put it that way. Life is terminal; we will all die. Chronic diseases give one a higher chance for mortality but don’t necessarily cause death directly. After all, say, a person with high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily die from it even if they’ve lived with it for years. Sometimes death is sudden, like in a car crash. However, often it is more of an aggregate of certain factors: age, general health, and chronic diseases (co-morbidities) than a specific terminal illness.

All in all, though, I do you think this is a very helpful book for those involved in the dying process. you may want to cherry-pick your way through, picking the nuggets that apply to you and your situation.

The Gap by Douglas Vigliotti

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NOT with Kindle Unlimited

The Gap*

Concepts Standing Between Us and True Understanding

The subtitle of this book definitely intrigues: The little space between what you know and don’t know. In this book, the author seeks to make us aware of this gap that can exist personally, professionally, and culturally. It isn’t a step-by-step blueprint to, say, help you better understand your relationship with your spouse or how to understand your company’s corporate culture. Rather, he looks at several concepts like gatekeepers, intelligence, bias, and specialists; and gives insight into them so that you can better understand what these really mean and how they are reflected in our experience of the world. Within each concept, he gives an example, sometimes a counterpoint, and a one-sentence takeaway. Given that some of the concepts can be a little intangible, the book is surprisingly engaging and makes you think about some of your preconceptions about yourself, others, and the greater world. It is a book best taken in small doses so you can ponder the information presented. The line isn’t always clearly drawn about how a concept is necessarily part of the gap between the known and the unknown, but the ideas are still interesting to think about. If you want to explore some of what could be seen as barriers to true understanding, you may very well enjoy this book. I know I did.

Kicking Financial Ass by Paul Christopher Dumont

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and

Kicking Financial Ass*

Surprisingly Helpful Book

I think it is unfortunate when an author or a publisher believes that they have to oversell a book. This book is a victim of just such a stratagem. This is actually quite a detailed, well-thought-out, and well-written book about how to get your financial house in order. So I have issues with the title, subtitle, and book blurb. The title suggests a humorous or edgy approach, and the subtitle—as it begins with a rather strange directive—supports this theory as well. The book blurb makes you think that it is going to be more about retiring early or entrepreneurship. While the book does address the former, that isn’t really the main thrust of the book. The book is really about getting your financial house in order and aligning what you do financially with your own personal values so that you can live a better present and future.

This book is meant for millennials, but I believe that most people could find benefit from it even if everything doesn’t apply to you, because of your age group or for any reason. The book is broadly divided into four parts: foundations, growth, investing, and living your life. The first part begins with getting your money mindset correct by considering your approach two money. This part moves on to take a look at where your money is going and looking at your savings. Then he looks into having an emergency fund before diving into debts. In the growth section, he discusses a salary negotiation and having a side hustle. In the investing section, he looks at index funds, retirement accounts, and real estate. The final two chapters that make up part four step more into the mindset perspective, looking at purpose in retirement and happiness with your financial goals.

This book is chock full of ideas and things for you to think about in your approach to your finances both now and in the future. The author freely admits that most of these ideas are not his own. He does have an MBA and is a certified financial analyst, but he also states that he has gathered information from various places online. Honestly, there is much that will help people here, both in mindset and in practicalities. It will get you thinking about what you do with your money now, what you want to do with it in the future, and why you want (or shouldn’t want) to do all these things. If you want financial freedom now and years from now, I would recommend reading this book—whether you are a millennial or not. 

Medical Terminology by Darrell Connolly

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Medical Terminology*

Disorganized, Poorly Written Book

Merciful heavens! Where do I even start with all that is wrong with this book? The cover doesn’t really state this, but I believe the author intends this book for people early in their medical education. Unfortunately, the book suffers from multiple problems. The first thing I noticed was that the language of the book is ponderous and overblown. I don’t know if the author is a non-native English speaker or just thought that he had to puff up the language to make it have more gravitas. In any event, most sentences in this book just feel like a chore to read.

The book also poorly organized on several levels. I actually have studied medical terminology for a couple of different reasons—first as a medical transcriptionist and later as an RN—and most medical terminology texts have an inherent logical flow to them regarding how you first learn about the generalities of this specialized terminology and then get to the specifics. This book is all over the map in terms of organization. Parts of it are repetitious. Other areas that should be kept together are broken up with intervening information in between that doesn’t seem relevant to the other bits on either side of it. Some concepts that the author has given great importance to, like eponymous medical terms, are actually given such short shrift—as, in this case, there are many eponymous terms—that the glossing over the subject in this book doesn’t do them justice. And in a relatively short book like this, it is better to emphasize the horses rather than the zebras. Many of the topics listed in the table of contents—which is a hot mess—are given just a paragraph or two, not really enough to aid learning. Within the chapters/sections themselves, there is repetition and wordiness along with a nonlogical flow of ideas.

There is no consistency with the actual parts of medical terms themselves. Typically in medical terminology books, learning the roots, prefixes, and suffixes is the heart of the book, especially if learned in the context of body systems. The sections that address these are relatively short—so many more roots, prefixes, and suffixes could have been mentioned—and the section titles are not wholly accurate. For instance, the root section contains many prefixes. Why weren’t those just put in the prefix section? Sometimes prefixes and suffixes are set off with hyphens to show where they join roots, but sometimes they are not. Similarly, root words and combining forms have inconsistencies of format as well.

The author lists a variety of tools and resources to aid learning of this complex topic, but even these are split out into different sections. I cannot recommend this book. If you have an interest in medical terminology for personal or professional reasons, there are some great websites, apps, and books out there that would be much more useful for you than this.

Stalking the Dead by E. C. Bell

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Stalking the Dead*

Still Not Vibin’

I love a good paranormal mystery, so I was intrigued when three books by this author showed up on my favorite book review site. Unfortunately, I have just never been able to get into them, and I have given this author three tries now. (I do always give authors two or three chances before I give up.) I love that Marie has the ability to communicate with spirits who have not yet moved on and uses that to figure out their murders (if that is the case). But something in the writing style always turns me off in these books. For one thing, the dialogue doesn’t feel quite natural to me, and in places, there is a lot of conversation. I am almost always put off, too, by the level of profanity in the books, usually said or thought by the ghosts. Cursing is just a significant turnoff for me in any book unless it is used for characterization. The mystery in this particular book actually did have some interest as it tied in different aspects of Marie’s present and past. But, again, because of the writing issues above and others that I have not detailed, I still couldn’t get into this book.

The Fixer Upper by Maggie Mae Gallagher

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The Fixer Upper*

Funny, Lovely Characters But Missing Tension

A fun and quirky contemporary romance that didn’t quite have enough true conflict or tension. This book is well written, so you may not be aware of its deficiencies until you give it a little thought. Abby inherits her aunt’s home and moves in while she finishes her dissertation and also tries to figure out her next move in life beyond academia. Her next-door neighbor, whom she quickly nicknames Sheriff Stud Muffin, meets her in a most amusing way. I’ve got to hand it to the author. Parts of this book are really quite humorous. Abby is a very quirky young woman with a love of 80s horror that seems to be integral to her character. It does cause some amusing moments as she lives in this beautiful old Victorian and seems to see and feel threats at every turn. Nothing too heavy or serious but in an amusing way. For instance, her aunt had a collection of porcelain dolls that Abby finds a little creepy.

There is a parallel historical love story that we see unfold throughout the book due to a discovered journal. Insights from this little book inform the characters’ thoughts and actions and may even give the reader something to think on. There’s also another small plot about break-ins going on in the area. So, between the contemporary romance, the historical romance, the criminal activity, and Abby’s attempt to understand herself and her future better, there is a lot going on in this story. I thought the book had a bit of a data dump at the beginning, which I’m not a fan of. This is actually a long book, so the author could have definitely woven in bits of backstory more adeptly throughout. There were at times some very long narrative passages, which can get tedious in a book (especially one of length). There was more profanity than I like in a book and certainly more than was needed for characterization.

But I think the greatest flaw in this book is that it felt like there were no true conflicts. This couple had instant chemistry—and it did sparkle and jump off the page. They become friendly, and then they become intimate. but it didn’t really feel like there was true tension or conflict as the plot moved along. For me, key ingredients in a romance include the All Is Lost moment towards the end followed by a Proof of Love (self-sacrifice without expectations). That didn’t happen in this book, so even though there is the HEA, it felt unsatisfying. If you don’t mind low-tension love stories, this book actually is humorous and delightful. I just wish it had a little bit more substance.

The Complete Keto Cookbook by Amanda Klein

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

The Complete Keto Cookbook*

Brimming with Recipes

Even though it has a very short section in front with brief articles about what the keto diet is, its benefits, and how to set yourself up for keto cooking success, this book is really all about the recipes. There are over 600 recipes in this cookbook. The author has chosen to divide this by the type of meat, with other sections on vegetables, vegan recipes, appetizers, and dessert recipes. I thought that the book would have been arranged better if some of the recipes were split out into more logical groups. For instance, each section has quite a few soups. I would have loved to have seen a soup chapter—as I adore soups and we are heading into soup season. Perhaps within that chapter—if the author had gone that direction—she could have designated the types of meat or veggies that served as the base. I would have loved to have seen other such split outs.

In looking over the recipes, I found some of them to be the typical easy kinds of recipes that people enjoy today while others were a bit more complex. Most just use regular ingredients from the grocery store; only a few called for specialty ingredients. Only the briefest of nutritional information was given. While carbs were listed, it wasn’t stated anywhere in the book whether this was net carbs or total carbs.  I thought some of the proportions between ingredients were a bit off. For instance, there was a salad recipe where a serving was one cup of lettuce with 1/4 cup of avocado.(For one thing, I can’t even imagine a salad that small; but that seems like too much avocado for the amount of lettuce.) Inexplicably, some recipes appeared in more than one section.

I thought that the sections preceding the recipes we’re mostly full of the normal information you hear about keto in these kinds of books and on popular blogs. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the information presented; I think it is just the standard stuff that is said for this diet. You can easily skip these sections and just move on to the recipes. There are no photographs in this ebook; the only pictures you will see are on the cover. I can’t really tell you if these are wholly keto-friendly, as I am not 100% knowledgeable about all of the ins and outs of the keto diet. But, however, I did find this set of recipes to be both practical and inspiring, even for people who don’t necessarily follow the keto diet.

Rapunzel Untamed by Erin Bedford

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Rapunzel Untamed*

Dystopian Fairy-Tale-Inspired Urban Fantasy

I absolutely love reworkings of the classic fairy tales. I’ve read several different ones by various authors in the last couple of years. But I haven’t read any revamps of Rapunzel or any other books by this author. So I was looking forward to a new fairy tale twist and a new-to-me author. Neither disappointed I am happy to say. This version of Rapunzel is a dark dystopian urban fantasy. Now, don’t let all that heaviness make you think that it is all dark; I have read some retellings that I like that. This one had a surprising amount of humor, especially when Rapunzel/Eva is rescued. There are other parts that are quite funny as well, like the discussion about Eva wearing a bra.

The author did a very good job describing the world from Eva’s perspective, even though Eva is confused about her circumstances. This isn’t easy to do, to get information across while the perspective character is in a confused state. But the author seems to do so with absolute ease. I found Eva’s head an interesting one to be in, and I really enjoyed the various personalities of her rescuing mages. The descriptions throughout the book are well done, not too much yet just enough to get across the character’s state of mind as well as what is happening. The writing at times feels immersive. The end has a surprising twist; the book ends on a cliffhanger. So if you aren’t a fan of books that end on cliffhangers, you might want to skip this one. But it is a very well done inspired-by-fairy-tale story, so you might want to consider it anyway.

The Duke’s Bride in Disguise by Claudia Stone

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

The Duke's Bride in Disguise**

Twins Separated at Birth Swap Lives (Poor Twin Story)

I absolutely adored the premise of these two books in this series, and each tale is rendered perfectly, aligning well with the characters of each sister; I like, too, that the stories are so distinct from each other. In this one, the poor sister of the newly discovered twins takes on the life of the wealthy sister to help dissuade her suitor. Ava is a delightful heroine, caught up in a world that she little understands. But her task is difficult. She has always had a bit of a crush on the duke (he was a patron of the shop she worked at); can she rebuff him for her sister’s sake . . . and at the peril of her own heart? The story is sweet and romantic. The only downside of this book, and the other as well, is that the book has not been properly copyedited—to the point where at times there are multiple errors in a paragraph. It was distracting from the lovely story. I would have given it five stars without those issues.

Jamie Brydone-Jack

Jamie Brydone-Jack

Reader, Editor, Writer

I’m an avid reader, for both fun and business. I enjoy a wide variety of books, including literary fiction, romance, thrillers, cozy mysteries, and fantasy for fiction and history, contemporary issues, philosophy, music, medicine, and cookbooks for nonfiction. I’m a freelance copyeditor who also does beta and alpha reading. I have two websites that are all about romance and mystery. You can follow my reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.


The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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