Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scholarly Study of Police Special Operations Groups

Good cops do go bad. The question is why do young men and women who start with high ideals of community service succumb to temptation and turn into bad cops. The author, Soctt Silverii, spent most of his career in SWAT Teams, special operations groups or SOGs. Other special operations group involve undercover work for drug trafficking and other high risk areas. Silverii brings an insiders knowledge to the study of why good cops go bad.

Silverii's thesis is that the idealistic young cop is assigned to a SOG often because he or she is such a good cop. Then through a series of transitions the cop transfers his allegiance from the general police force to the SOG. Because of the nature of work in the SOG the cop is exposed to temptations and often encouraged to participate in activities he or she knows is wrong, but helps to bond with his group. The group effectively becomes the standard.

Silverii bases his analysis on interviews with cops from across the country. It's fascinating to read what they think about being in a SOG means and how it changes you. He believes that they talked to him, rather than other investigators, because of his background in the SOG.

He also give an extensive overview of police history in the United State. I found it fascinating, and it helped to explain how the police have evolved over time.

If you're interested in the psychology of closed groups, or police specifically, I recommend this book. The writing is scholarly. I believe it is based on his doctoral dissertation, and it reads that way. However, anyone familiar with social science research will not find that a problem.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Murder, Mystery and Mischief at a Paranormal Conference

Emily Castles is bored by her office job, but when she agrees to attend the Belief and Beyond Conference to try to detect a murder before it happens, she gets more than she bargained for. Perspicacious Peg believes she has received a psychic message that Edmond Zenon, a famous skeptic, will drown when he performs his walking-on-water stunt. The anticipation is increased because Edmund has offered 50,000 pounds to any psychic who can prove the paranormal exists. With all the psychic activity and an offer of a large cash reward, there's plenty of room for mischief.

The book is a fun read. The setting in Torquay at the Hotel Majestic is a good back drop for the psychic conference participants including those out to prove the paranormal exists. Emily is an intelligent young woman who manages to keep her head as more bodies are discovered. Madame Nova, Perspicacious Peg, and Dr. Muriel to name a few are delightfully eccentric characters who add color to the plot.

The early chapters of the book are a little slow; introducing main characters and setting up the scene at the conference. However, after Edmund performs his trick, the pace picks up and Emily is kept busy finding the connections between the murder victims.

If you're looking for good escape reading, you'll enjoy this book.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Devotional Bible with a Study Guide

The Spiritual Renewal Study Bible has become one of my favorite resources. Each book starts with an overview of the history and setting. I found this very helpful in understanding the context of the book. Following the overview is a section on the Spiritual Renewal Themes of each book and Essential Facts. The three sections give a comprehensive view for studying the book.

I particularly enjoyed the character profiles which examine the problems and spiritual rewards of each person. There are also a series of devotionals highlighting the keys to spiritual renewal and devotionals on the scripture. Using these in addition to the study of each book gives a comprehensive look at what the book is saying to Christians.

I highly recommend this Bible for anyone interested in serious Bible study. Whether you belong to a Bible study group, or work independently. This Bible gives many resources to increase your spiritual awareness.

I reviewed this book for the Thomas Nelson Book Look Blogger Program.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Everything You Need to Know for Everyday Cooking

The New Family Cookbook is a treasure. Not only are the recipes mouth-watering, it's filled with helpful information on other aspects of cooking. The book opens with a section on Kitchen Tips followed by sections on how to measure, choose knives, and use cutting boards. Although I've cooked for a long time, I learned something from reading them.

The recipes range from appetizers and salads through main courses and desserts. I particularly like the section on casseroles. It's an area where I'm always looking for new recipes because they're easy to prepare and keep well. Each section has numerous colored pictures of the dishes. I think I could gain ten pounds just reading about all the delicious desserts. In addition to pictures of the dishes, many recipes have an illustrated section on how to prepare the dish. I find it helpful to know exactly what to do step by step.

Another helpful feature is the designation of the recipe as fast, or it gives you the preparation time. When we're all so busy, it's helpful to know which recipes can be prepared quickly, particularly if you get off work late and have to fix supper.

An interesting feature at the end of the cookbook is a list of kitchen equipment that they recommend along with the price. This section is followed by a shopping list giving recommended ingredients. Altogether, this is an excellent kitchen reference. It would make an excellent shower or wedding gift, or a present for someone setting up their first apartment. However, the book isn't limited to new cooks. Even cooks who have been at it for years will find interesting tidbits of information scattered among the recipes.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stage Magic and Real Magic

Reve is happily married to a magician. Together they have perfected an act that has received acclaim both is Las Vegas and in the country. Their three daughters are growing up and Reve thinks life is almost perfect until she accidentally shoots her husband during one of their magic acts.

Although she is not found guilty of the murder, Reve finds life difficult without her husband. It becomes worse when a stalker starts sending pictures of the children. Fearing for their safety, she returns to her childhood home, Hawley Five Corners. This is a strange town that was apparently abandoned by the residents, including her ancestors, under mysterious circumstances. Although she feels safe there, the feeling doesn't last when the man who murdered her husband finds them and the stalking begins again.

The stage magic from the opening chapters of the book turns to real magic when Reve and the girls move to Hawley Five Corners. Reve has always known that she has a special talent. She can disappear. In fact, all the women in her family have special talents. However, once she is living in Hawley she learns the history behind these talents.

If you like books that rely on a mysterious backstory, you'll love this book. The evens in Reve's life move forward, and as they do she learns the history of her family. The only problem with this is that there are long passages of backstory. If you prefer lots of action, you may be disappointed.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

A Comprehensive View of Queen Victoria's Life

Queen Victoria was a complex woman. One of the strengths of Wilson's biography is that through the use of her letters and journals he is able to show us the internal life of the Queen.

Victoria was married, presumably happily, to Prince Albert. They produced nine children, and his death left her prostrate. Albert was a strict Victorian husband treating Victoria often as a child and using severe methods to raise the children. Although Victoria loved Albert, her love for her children was less pronounced. Her relationship with her heir, Bertie, was particularly fraught with unpleasantness.

After Albert, she engaged in two relationships that could be described as scandalous. She spent many years with John Brown, Highland John, and may have been married to him, but if so the record or such an alliance has been destroyed. Her later relationship with Munshi, her Indian Secretary, paints the picture of a lonely old woman taken in by a successful conman. However, seeing Victoria in these three relationships makes her more of a real person.

The author is adept at bringing the political situation into the biography. He shows how Victoria both shaped events and was shaped by them. For me, this was the best part of the book.

I did learn some interesting things about Victoria's childhood. She believed that she had a lonely childhood, but using her journals, the author shows that she grew up with the stepbrother and stepsister, the children of her mother's first marriage.

This is a long book and the writing is often scholarly to the point of dryness. However, if you're interested in Queen Victoria or the Victorian Age, it's well worth reading.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Science Fiction that Relies Heavily on Physics

Ye Wenjie, a young astrophysicist, suffered during the Chinese Cultural Revolution seeing her physicist father killed by an out of control group of young students. For awhile she buries herself in the forests as part of the Construction Corps, sawing down irreplaceable old trees. This experience like the Cultural Revolution convinces Ye Wenjie that humanity is not redeemable.

Her father's past as a famous physicist follows her into the Construction Corps. Before she is convicted, she's whisked away to a remote antenna station to serve as a technician. She intends to spend the rest of her life there, but events push her into the forefront of a new revolution, one to discredit science.

The book moves back and forth between Ye Wenjie's experiences and Wang Maio's. Wang is an applied physicist working on nanomaterial. He is drawn into the investigation of why so many famous scientists are committing suicide. At first he doesn't see how he fits the mold, but as the investigation progresses he gets caught up in the three body problem.

This is one of the best science fiction books I have ever read. The background relies heavily on physics which makes it fascinating. The author does an excellent job of weaving real concepts into his story. If you enjoy physics, this is a must read.

Wang and Ye are good characters. Wang grows as he faces the looming catastrophe. Ye is an enclosed woman who hides deep secrets. However, my favorite character was Da Shi. Unlike the scientists, he is a pragmatic observer who doesn't worry about theory. He looks at life. His common sense is one of the most refreshing parts of the book.

I highly recommend this book. It's the first book in a trilogy. The other two books are not available yet. If you like reading really good science fiction, you'll love this book.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.