Monday, May 2, 2016

Storm Chasing and Romance

Drew McGovern was waiting for Colby,her fiancee, to return from a storm chasing trip when she received the devastating news that he'd been killed. He survived the storm chasing trip, but died helping a stranded motorist. With the help of her friends, Drew recovers from the tragedy, but she isn't sure where her life is going.

When Colby's storm chasing team invites her to come on an expedition, she eagerly accepts. She wants to see what attracted Colby. Although she isn't looking for romance, one of the team members, Aiden, Colby's best friend, attracts her.

Aiden is equally attracted to Drew, in fact, he's wanted her for years. However, he's uncomfortable acting on the attraction feeling that it's disloyal to Colby.

For me, the best part of this book is the storm chasing setting. It's unusual, and there's just enough danger to make it interesting.

Drew is an empathetic character. You can't help but root for her to get over the tragedy and move on with her life. Although she knows noting about storm chasing, she proves herself to be a gutsy lady.

I wasn't as impressed with Aiden. He starts the story as the brooding Alpha male out to make it with any woman he can convince to come to his bed. However, as the story progresses and he and Drew let their mutual attraction grow, he becomes a more likable character.

I recommend this book if you enjoy hot romance in an unusual setting. One caveat is that some of the sex is fairly explicit. If that bothers you, this is not your book.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

When Selling Real Estate Becomes Deadly

Sam Turner, a newly minted real estate agent, is glad to get any chance to show houses. The derelict old Victorian at 13 Aster Lane doesn't seem like a great prospect since renovation would be extremely expensive, and the house is rumored to be haunted. Sam is surprised when shortly after viewing the property she gets requests for three showings and one potential buyer places a contract without even seeing the house. The problem shows up when she goes to the house for the showings and discovers the body of one of the prospective buyers.

The plot in this mystery is unique, but too much time is lost getting to the murder. The first twenty percent of the book is taken up with Sam's life. She lives in a dingy apartment with her son, Max, who plans to take part in a race unique to Arlinda, the town they live in in Northern California. I became bored with Sam's commentary on her life and the people she meets. I'm sure the author thought she was being cute and sarcastic, but it became tedious.

The pace is slow. If you enjoy hearing about the race and Sam's love interests, including her ex-husband who shows up unexpectedly, you may enjoy this novel. However, if you're looking for a fast paced mystery give this isn't your book.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Cookbook with a Path to Healthy Eating

My favorite idea from this cookbook is to plan your meals thinking about nutrition rather than calories. The authors give good suggestions for how to implement that strategy. They start the book with their philosophy for eating well and eating healthy. If you think of eating healthy as lots of tasteless dishes with no sugar and little salt, you'll be surprised at how delicious these recipes are.

In addition to the philosophy of eating, the book gives you a one-week reboot program complete with menus and a shopping list. The menus contain snack items as well as main meals. I particularly like the snack recipes. Avocado Boats are one of my favorites.

We eat a lot of soup so I was delighted to try some of the soup recipes. Roasted Squash Soup is a favorite. I also like their suggestions for using leftovers in snacks and lunches. Many of the recipes call for Bone Broth. The authors provide a recipe, but it doesn't work well for people who eat little meat since it calls for six pounds of bones. If you typically shop at a supermarket instead of a butcher shop, it may not be easy to get bones, even if you're buying them separately from the meat.

The recipes are easy to follow and most of them don't take a great deal of time. The authors include tips that are useful in guiding you away from the more obvious mistakes, and the pictures are excellent. My dishes never look as delicious as the pictures, but I keep trying.

I highly recommend this book as a path to healthy eating.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Unique WWII Story

Bryan and James, two Brits on a reconnaissance mission over Nazi Germany, are shot down. They manage to board a train carrying high level SS officers. To keep from being captured and shot, they throw two of the patients off the train and take their place. Impersonating the officers, they pretend to be too shell shocked to speak and are taken to a mental hospital. The competing problems for the two men are how to avoid detection and how to maintain their sanity with the shock treatments and pills they are given.

Even as fiction, this book is not convincing. The plot is full of fantastical adventures starting with the two airmen being able to clamber aboard the hospital train. Part of the reason the plot didn't work for me is that the characters are not well developed. It's hard to differentiate them and as a result it's difficult to become emotionally involved.

The research is good. It adds another dimension to the horrors of the Nazi medical establishment, but the pace is inconsistent. In the first half, harrowing action scenes are followed by scenes with little action. In the second half the pace is more consistent and faster, but still it didn't draw me in.

The book was written in 1997 and is very different from Adler-Olsen's other novels and not as well done. The writing in the first half is particularly choppy, but perhaps this is due to the translation.

I can't recommend this book unless you're interested in unusual stories of WWII.

I received this book from Penguin-Random House for this review.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Moving Story of Crime and Forgiveness

Misty, out for the evening with her long time boyfriend, Scott, expected to have a wonderful time. Scott was home from the Navy. Misty hadn't seen him for awhile, but she was hoping that he would soon propose. The evening didn't go as planned. They ended up arguing and uncomfortable with each other. Misty drove away, expecting to spend the night with a girlfriend. Then, realizing that Scott might call and wake her parents, she stopped at a payphone to call him.

Keith, hopped up on drugs and alcohol, planned a robbery with a friend. They needed a getaway car and decided to steal one. Misty, standing by the phone booth near her car was a prime target. He approached and spoke to her. Unlike his usual method of operation, he didn't cover his face and she got a good look at him before he shot her in the head, the bullet penetrating the carotid artery. He left her for dead.

After a trial where Misty was the main witness, Keith went to jail. Misty, however, was tormented by PTSD symptoms and thoughts of vengeance. Eighteen years later, Misty forgave him. They met and have been working together in the Bridges to Life ministry telling their story.

The book is a series of first person accounts by Misty and Keith each telling their side of the story. The toggling from one account to the other breaks the narrative flow, but it's not difficult to follow. The good part is that you get to meet both Keith and Misty and understand what drove the events of that night and the subsequent forgiveness.

Although Misty's situation was much more traumatic then that faced by most people, her desire to finally find peace by forgiving her assailant is very moving. I recommend this book for anyone who has been hurt and is struggling with the question of whether and how to forgive.

I received this book from PR by the Book for this review.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Naval JAG Officers Caught in a Mystery that Could Have Come from the Pages of the Newspaper

Lieutenant Commander Caroline McCormick, a Navy JAG attorney, is up for transfer to another post. She's missing Lieutenant Commander P. J. McDonald. They were almost engaged, but when P. J. moved on to DC to work in the prestigious Code 13 section at the Pentagon, he didn't suggest that they make things permanent. Now it's Caroline's turn for a new post. She's hoping for a European assignment, but instead she unexpectedly gets assigned to Code 13.

P. J. is assigned to work on an opinion for the Secretary of Defense on a billion dollar contract setting up a Navy drone command, but the catch is that half the drones will be assigned to Homeland Security. The mob isn't excited about having drones monitor the coastline, and the contractor is pushing hard to get the contract approved by Congress. Using the drone project as background could have come from the pages of current newspapers.

Caroline steps into the controversy when P. j. is shot and killed. When another Code 13 officer is also killed, the Navy needs to solve the mystery fast. Caroline volunteers to take P. J.'s place writing the opinion. Now she's in the sights of the killer.

This is a fast paced murder mystery with a romantic element. I enjoyed the settings in Washington DC and San Diego. They are very realistic. The military background was also very realistic. These were the best parts of the novel. I found the romance rather strained. It adds to the tension and gives a reason for the involvement of senior Navy personnel, but it didn't ring true for the character's motivations.

The mystery pits Caroline and her associates against two ruthless groups, the mob and the contractor. Having two groups interested in either stopping the contract or getting it signed immediately keeps you guessing about who is responsible for the murders.

If you enjoy fast paced mysteries with a military flavor this is a book you shouldn't miss.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rediscover Your Creativity

So you've retired and the plan was to do all the things you never had time for. Many of these things involved reawakening your creativity, but where do you start. Sometimes it's easier to give up thinking I just don't have it anymore. This book will change your mind.

Julia Cameron is the author of many books on creativity. Perhaps the most familiar is “The Artist's Way.” Building on her initial finding that Morning Pages, writing three stream of consciousness pages every morning, can clear your mind and help you focus on what you want to do, Julia has broadened her program to include memoir writing, solo walks, and artist dates.

This book lays out a twelve week program employing all her tools to help people restart their creativity. Although the books is aimed at people who are retired or shortly retiring, the book can be helpful to anyone at any age. The book does focus the examples on older people, but the problems of seniors hold true across the age spectrum.

I highly recommend this book. I discovered the "Artist's Way" over 10 years ago and have been writing Morning Pages ever since. I had always wanted to write. Writing Morning Pages helped my focus on how to get started. I have now written seven mystery novels. This program can work for you, too.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.