What’s Your Passion? What’s Your Passion? Whatever that is there’s a book for It. For this early Winter 2021 Book Review Roundup on advicesisters.com, the main focus is passion. Whether it’s food, romance, history, or something more unusual, you’ll find it here. This is a bigger book review roundup than usual, with 9 books.
No worries! I’ve included a “Bottom Line” for each review in case you just don’t’ feel like reading the entire review (but please DO)! I welcome your comments here or tweet them to @advicesisters, I’d love to know what you think and also if you have a book you want us to consider for review.
FAB Fab Fare:
I stopped playing World of Warcraft (WOW) when I found myself doing quests instead of writing or doing work. For those with a passion for the game, they need, want, and must have World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook Novelty Set by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel (Insight Editions/Gift Set November 2020)
World of Warcraft by Blizzard Games is a super-popular online multiplayer online role-playing game. The cookbook is beautifully photographed with cute instructions and references to the game.
The names of the recipes and their explanations are from the fictional characters and places. However, the recipes are for our real world. Enjoy Crunchy Spider Surprise (fried crabmeat wontons) Bloodberry Tart (blueberry/raspberry tart) and Sliced Zangar Buttons (cooked mushrooms) just to name a few.
The gift set includes a nice baker’s apron with the insignia for the Alliance on one side, the Horde on the other. It will be especially fun this Winter when you’re staying at home and food prep matters even more than ever.
The Bottom Line: World of Warcraft Official Cookbook is a must-have for fans with a passion for the game, and everyone seeking a new, exciting cookbook. The set is $45 with a really nice one size fits all apron, but you can also purchase the book separately for under just $16 on Amazon.
Wedding Day Woes Romance Novel:
I don’t usually review erotic novels, but Stroke of Luck by Opal Carew (St, Martins December 2020) hit my desk, and I was captivated by the storyline. The story is fairly typical of a romance novel. The damsel in distress is ditched on her wedding day. Her ex-fiance is a vindictive creep who leaves her with literally nothing and nothing to go back to. Of course, she is saved by not one, but two hunky millionaires, one of which she knew in the past. But then the plot changes and there’s plenty of passion too. I’m not going to tell you more, but Ms. Carew has done a good job of keeping you surprised, until the end. If you are not an adult, this book is not at all for you.
The Bottom Line: But if you are an adult seeking escapism for a few hours (or days, depending upon how fast you read), you’ll find this novel, to be captivating.
Drama During the Dust Bowl!
What do you know about the dust bowl? I didn’t know much other than it was a terrible time for many farmers. However, after reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (St. Martins, February 2021) I have a much better perspective of how bad it really was. The Dust Bowl was the name given to the drought-stricken Southern Plains region of the United States. in the 1930s. The area suffered severe dust storms with high winds and choking dust destroying crops, homes, and livestock.
When the rain didn’t come, people from Texas to Nebraska lost everything including their homes and sometimes, their lives. Many fled West. The Four Winds is a well-researched novel, a can’t-put-it-down tale of a privileged but frail and overly-protected young woman who follows her passion and finds herself in a situation she didn’t count on. From there, the novel proceeds into her new life on a farm. Her husband leaves her without telling her where he’s gone. As the dust storms intensify Elsa Martinelli takes her two children and their belongings in an old truck to move to California. Once there, she again finds herself in a situation she didn’t count on but learns how to protect her children and herself, and become a “warrior.”
The Bottom Line: This is a gripping, attention-getting novel, on sale early February 2021. I saw this for sale early on Amazon.
Passion for Affirmations:
I’m a firm believer in affirmations. As I’ve mentioned in my advice stories many times, my favorite one is: “If I can think it I can say it. If I can say it I can do it…and I will!” Hopefully, 2021 is going to be a much better year than 2020, but we can all use some affirmations to help us really work on our New Years Goals.
If you haven’t really thought about affirmations, or have never used them, let Affirmations for Happiness by Kelsey Aida Roualdes (Adams Media November 2020) be your guide. Affirmations are simply what they sound like: sayings that help you “affirm” a goal, a wish, anything you want. They can cheer you up, or help you to have a healthier, happier lifestyle, or to meet what otherwise might be a seemingly insurmountable goal that takes time and work to manifest. The affirmations in this book are simple (e.g. “I’m already winning” or I’m ready to experience more inner peace.” There are more than 200 in this book to help you remember the things to be happy about, and brighten your day. Under each affirmation are a number of other thoughts that you can think about to live more positively.
The Bottom Line: Cute and clever, it might help make this year even better. It’s a book to leave in your bedroom or bathroom. Choose an affirmation each day or evening. Buy it on Amazon.
Passion for Personal Ads/Swipe Left or Right?
If you think that personal ads are new, think again. Men and women searching for love and marriage have been posting personal ads for 250 years! MATRIMONY, INC. From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, A Story of America Looking for Love By Francesca Beauman (Pegasus Books October 2020) chronicles this search using real personal ads showing what it was like (and who might post an ad) in centuries and decades past. This is a well-researched book, although the author takes the liberty of suggesting what the circumstances might be for the person writing the ad, what s/he might be looking for, and who might answer.
The actual ads that are copied in the book are from old newspapers and hard to read (but better copies might not have been available). The book explores the social-economic history of personal ads through today’s more modern ways to make a love match or explore a passion.
You might think of people in the last century or the beginning of this one wouldn’t be so bold as to place or answer a personal ad, but many did. Today most people are seeking a true love match or at least a quality hookup. But even in the past men (and women) had certain standards. If you were placing an ad and were a male, you most likely would be seeking a woman who could produce children and some money in terms of a dowry. If you were a woman, you might be seeking a gentleman with means.
The Bottom Line: Personal ads aren’t a laughing matter, but the book has a light tone. It’s a fun read for anyone, especially those who don’t believe “the personals” or apps can’t bring two people together in a real and viable way. Buy it on Amazon
A Sneak Peek Review:
Advicesisters.com has reviewed some other books about women bumping up against the impact of their home country (mostly in the Middle East) on their new life in America. However, Concealed: Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America by Esther Amini (Greenpoint Press April 2020) is a wry look at somewhat dysfunctional immigrant parents and a totally modern American daughter. Amini had to struggle to maintain her independence and get the education she was entitled to. Her mother had a passion for clothes and her kitchen, but there was more to her than meets the eye. Her father was strict, quiet, demanding, and intimidating.
Amini writes with love and tons of wit about her family. But she wields her pen (computer keyboard) with a sharp and honest look at what makes her parents tick, and how it affects every aspect of her life. The Bottom Line: I’m not surprised that the author is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Well Done! This is a fun read and well worth your attention. I found it for advance sale early on Amazon.
Books I Didn’t Personally Love, But Worthy of Note & You May Share Their Passion:
Driven to Drive?
My mother was a nervous driver. As a consequence, so am I. But Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road by Matthew B. Crawford (William Morrow June 2020) Crawford has been working on cars since the age of fifteen and currently drives a 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. There’s a certain “car snobbery” infused into the stories. They’re entertaining, but not all of us want to fix our own cars or find ourselves without the high tech conveniences that are generally built into modern cars.
The author eschews such things. For many of us, there is no “zen” in driving, we just want to safely get where we need to go. The Bottom Line: This is a beautifully written book, but I ran out of “gas” reading it. However, if your passion is driving or fixing cars, you will relate to the author’s passion. It just wasn’t for me.
The Lady and the Psychopath:
There is a certain type of author who bears his or her soul to “help” others. Burning Desire: The Psychopath and the Girl in Black Prada Shoes by M.L. Stark is supposedly semi-fiction. I can’t tell which parts are true, and which parts are written just to titillate the reader. “Mary” has lots of issues, one being under the spell of someone who really does have the traits of a psychopath. Of course, she falls in love with him. However, there is a certain sort of person who allows him or her-self to be taken advantage of. Of course, this man is a lying heartless user, but she allows herself (or at least can’t manage to stop herself) from being used.
The “author” (Mary) initially is raped in a doctor’s office but doesn’t tell anyone and doesn’t scream for help. Of course, he’s the one she falls for. If you want to read it, the kindle version is just $5 on Amazon. The book is full of passion but grim from beginning to end. This is book one of a trilogy. The Bottom Line: I can’t imagine what is going to come next but I’m pretty sure I don’t what to know.
Tzarina: A Novel by Ellen Alpsten (St. Martins Press November 2020) is 480 pages and should be half that long. True, it’s a magnum opus in the style of Dr. Zhivago, but it’s not easy to get through. The story is as gripping as the writing is awkward. Catherine Alexeyevna was the first woman to rule Russia in her own right. This historical fiction novel is about her passion (considerable) rise to power (astounding).
I got through about 3/4 of the book and I’d had enough Sex, violence, and intrigue to keep me for a long time. The Bottom Line: If you have a passion for royalty, note that the book is full of violence, graphic sex, some rapes, and more. plus a very complicated but interesting story. get it on amazon