Book Review – Under Lying by Janelle Harris

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This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

This book covers the following topics and/or genres – Fiction / Thriller / Suspense

Under Lying is a suspense-thriller that focuses on the sudden disappearance of a couple’s little girl. Susan and Paul’s daughter Amelia goes missing during a house-warming party. After Amelia’s disappearance, the relationship between Susan and her husband slowly begins to disintegrate. Paul appears as if he is pointing the finger of blame at Susan and others. There are a lot of moving “parts” at this point in the book, a lot of characters and actions to consider with nothing looking too obvious. Other minor characters are introduced during the party such as Helen, a neighbour that seems friendly and supportive of Susan during the ordeal.

The book is split into two timelines, the past and the present. I wasn’t too keen on the flicking back and forth between the two. I would have preferred that the author didn’t separate the timelines and rather integrated the past into the present without having to define it in separate chapters. I think this segregates the flow of the story way too much and is almost distracting.

In the past timeline, Susan is a student with a twin brother, also a student. Susan’s brother, Adam, goes out to get champagne for their 21st party, and a terrible accident kills him. Susan goes through the various phases of grief, even attending a bereavement group at her old primary school to try and cope with the loss. This is where we meet Jenny, also coping with loss in her life and the two become friends.

I found it hard to feel sympathy for Susan. Early on in the book, I felt nothing but an annoyance for her. I understand this character has endured a lot, but for some reason, she reads like she is just overly-needy and I find that aspect of her difficult to like. Losing a child is a severe topic to tackle, and I commend the writer for choosing this as a foundation for the book. It’s abundantly clear early on in the current timeline that Susan is either very good at acting like she’s grieving for her daughter or entirely truthful about it. I think this aspect of Susan’s personality is both the best and the worst part about her. I also would have thought that after losing a brother as a teenager and a twin at that, Susan would be slightly more experienced in dealing with this level of grief.

Turning to the husband, Paul, he isn’t as engaging as Susan, but there is an air of “what the hell is going on” with him throughout the first half of the book that keeps you wondering about his motivation. Lots of questions arise, which is mirrored in the actions of the detectives assigned to solve the case.

The first major twist in the story comes about half-way through the book, and it’s not very subtle either. I did feel that there was a bit of a “jump” in the plot development, almost like the author was trying to rush through the rest of the story to get to the end. That said, this particular plot twist does what it was intended to do, which is to catch you completely off-guard. It seemed a little “out of nowhere”, but I think the author fully intended for this to happen and for the most part, it works well.

There are several twists throughout this book, but I didn’t feel the others were as impactful as the first. Susan doesn’t escape my original thoughts about her which makes it a lot easier to get behind the person she became as the plot progresses. By the end of the book, I expected to feel a little more relieved than I did, relieved that the story was over and that I didn’t have to continue reading about a character I didn’t enjoy.

I was a tad disappointed at the end as the book had so much promise, which kind of dwindled right after the first twist is revealed. I found myself more invested in the main character than the character deserved. And the ending felt like something was missing or unfinished – perhaps unfinished business or justice unserved.

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Book Review – F*ck No by Sarah Knight

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This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

This e-book was provided for review via Netgalley for an honest review

This book covers the following topics – Non-Fiction / Self-Help

Publisher’s release date: 31 Dec 2019

How does someone get better at saying “No?” Why would you want to be better at saying no? According to Sarah Knight and her successful series of books that tackle everything from not giving a f*ck to putting oneself first, there is a myriad of tricks and practices everyone who has problems with saying no can learn out of the safety of their lounge.

How is this book written for the audience?

Sarah Knight has made a successful career out of helping people face their fears and shortcomings, and she continues this stride with her latest book, F*ck No!: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, or You Just Don’t Want To. Sarah is a TED speaker and a New York Times bestselling author. So what makes it so easy for some of us to say no, and why is it so hard for others? Sarah speaks from personal experience as a full-time corporate book editor who got tired of giving authors lousy news daily. Ask yourself if you have ever been the person that always has to please everyone? Or the push-over that always caves when they should stand their ground? Or even the overachiever that takes on way too much work for minimal reward or none at all? If you can relate to any of these scenarios, you will benefit greatly from reading this book.

Some of the highlights of this book included the following advice that Sarah offers unapologetically to the reader:

– Building real, applicable boundaries for yourself and those people in your life you find it hard to say no to. These people can be family members, friends, bosses or colleagues. It doesn’t matter because Sarah’s advice can be moulded around to fit with any relationship that you have.
– Having personal policies that help you to apply the boundaries you’ve created to real-world situations.
– Dealing with those people that won’t take “no” for an answer and how to continue being in control when you don’t feel in control
– Dealing with the guilt of saying “no” in a responsible way that can come in many shapes and forms
– Approaching the “fall out” or consequences of saying “no” and working to move beyond these limitations

The language used – is it simple enough to understand for the everyday reader?

One of the essential concepts in Sarah’s book is that not all situations and examples will be something you can relate to. This book is structured in such a way that you can skip and re-read sections that are relevant to you and your life. After all, this book is all about improving yourself, and only you know where that improvement needs to be applied.

As an example, I’ll use my own experience here – I don’t have a single problem with telling telemarketers “no” or telling door-to-door sellers “no, but thank you!” But some people might. Sarah has thought about her material extensively, and I do mean that this book is extremely comprehensive and covers just about every situation you could imagine and then some. So again, you can pick up this book and apply what you’ve learned to Sarah’s material – look at the chapters you want to look at and ignore the rest. Or, if you’re a completionist (like I tend to be), read the entire book and apply only what you know to be relevant when required. It is that simple.

That said, however, the language used in this book may be a little “blunt” for some readers. Not all readers will appreciate the way Sarah uses certain words (mostly slang and swear words) in her writing. So this book won’t appeal to everyone. But I enjoyed the stripped-down nature of the book, and its rawness made it easier for me to feel comfortable reading about difficult situations. I prefer the no-nonsense approach.

What can be gained from the book – does it educate the reader?

I didn’t choose to review this book because of any particular need that I had other than I wanted to read it because I thought the subject matter would be interesting. And I also appreciate the way that Sarah approaches her material. But the further into this book I progressed the more I began to realise that this book is addressing experiences I have had. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe or like I was choking because of the pressure other people in my life were putting onto me. I remember the horrible feeling that crept over me whenever I said “yes” to a person I didn’t like. I remember how annoyed and disgusted with myself I felt because I had given into the guilt, yet again. I am one of the people that Sarah has spent a considerable chunk of her career trying to reach out to. Perhaps something subconsciously was telling me I needed to read this book. Maybe the experience can be the same for you too. This book could be a revelation or could provide clarity into your shortcomings or even deeper than that.

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Book Review – Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business by Scott N. Schober

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This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

This e-book was provided for review by the author Scott N. Shober via BookTasters.

This book covers the following topics – Non-Fiction / Cybersecurity / Hacking / Cyber-crime / Cyber-awareness / Cyber-safety

As the title of the book suggests, Cybersecurity really is everybody’s business. Being aware of cyber-crime is something that I’ve become more and more interested in over the years as a digital citizen, and it’s something that everyone needs to be exposed to in a relatable way.

Onto the review:

Is this book written for the right audience – would this book make sense to someone that knows nothing about tech or cyber-crime?

Scott’s book is an ideal place to start if you’re curious about cybersecurity for small businesses. If you’ve already made yourself familiar with Scott’s previous book, Hacked Again, this book is a solid next step in advancement and understanding of the world of cybercrime and how it can impact you as an individual and your business.

If you’re a novice when it comes to cybersecurity as a topic, you’re probably better off reading Scott’s previous book first, which is about Scott’s personal experience of being hacked called “Hacked Again.” You can view a sample and purchase that book here on Amazon.

For any small business owner with a basic understanding of what cyber-crime is, this book should be next to your bed and on your reading table. Scott is extremely good at taking a step back from the complexity of cyber-crime and hacking and applying an expert’s opinion in such a way that makes it extremely easy to digest. While the world of hackers can be a scary place, Scott tackles this fear, breaking it apart bit by bit by discussing real-world scenarios and offering valuable advice on how to best avoid these situations.

One of the most important things I’ve found as someone acutely aware of how easy it is for hackers to commit such crimes is that there isn’t enough information out there for the little person. There is very little information available for people who don’t own businesses or have large bank accounts with thousands of clients. What I like about this book is that Scott knows that there is a considerable lack of understanding that exists among the general public, and he is actively trying to share what he knows to combat and bridge that gap.

Scott’s message is that you don’t have to be technically savvy to understand how critical cybersecurity is. If you don’t think you have something a hacker may want, think again. If you have money or data to exploit, you’re a target, and that’s pretty much everyone.

How is the language used in this book – is it simple enough to understand?

There are certain parts of this book, such as the reference notes, and real-world examples of cyber breaches and attacks that maybe just a little too technical for the average reader. These details are more suited for someone who may have a technical background and understanding of significant data breaches such as the Mirai Botnet DDoS attack in chapter 15. Unless you’re interested in the in’s and out’s of how a DDoS attack is carried out and why, you won’t need to understand what a DDoS is. But Scott is adept at recognizing that some people may zone out as soon as the words “data breach” are mentioned, and that’s important because it means he understands his audience and caters to that very well. By separating the reference notes at the end of each chapter, you can easily skip the more technical details if it’s not your thing.

What can be gained from reading this book – does it educate the reader?

Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business is easily one of the most educational books out there about the real-world implications of cyber-crime. Awareness is key to opening the door and that’s really all that Scott is trying to do, to make people, everyday people, more aware of the threats they face. We are beyond becoming digital citizens, we are digital citizens. We live our lives online. If you think of how much time you spend connected to the internet every day, you will begin to understand that all of that time online has to amount to something – and that something is data. Data is a very valuable commodity. If you’re buying goods online, that means you’ve given up your credit card details (your data), your name, your address and that’s really all that’s needed for a hacker to impact your life in the worst possible way. Identity theft is real and it can happen to anyone. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Scott does a great job of chipping away at that “iceberg” until it’s bite-sized and much easier to navigate. For small business owners, this book is a must-have. And if you’re interested in the topic of cyber-crime and more importantly, cyber-crime prevention, protection and safety, this book is definitely for you.

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