Friday, April 28, 2017

In Williamsburg, A Family Travels Back to 1775

The Sinclair family is on a vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia. They’re eager to explore the colonial town. The family begins their stay with a tour and meet reenacters at each location. The reenacters explain their roles and give a bit of history.

Suddenly the family finds themselves transported back in time to 1775. Each member of the family goes his or her own way meeting freed slaves, Indians, military leaders, and healers. In each case, the family member becomes an integral part of the action, actually influencing history. The people they meet are wise bringing an understanding of daily lives in the revolutionary period. The children learn about what was actually happening as the country prepared for war. The parents bring their skills to bear to heal themselves and help others.

The book is well researched and gives an in-depth picture of Williamsburg in colonial times. I enjoyed learning about each individual. I’ve read a lot of history, so this wasn’t new, but if you’d rather read a story than a history book, you’ll enjoy learning this way.

I was disappointed in the depth of the characters and particularly the dialog. A great many of the interchanges, particularly in the beginning of the book, were data dumps. I understand that the author was trying to teach as well as tell a story, but it did not enhance the atmosphere. The time travel seemed almost too facile. It’s a good device, but very much on the surface with no explanation of how it happened.

If you’re interested in the revolutionary period, I recommend this book. You’ll learn a lot of history. The documents from George Washington at the end are well worth reading.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.  

A Good Mystery, But Gory

Charlie (Bird) Parker and his wife Susan are having a difficult time. He loves his daughter Jennifer, but his arguments with Susan are driving him away. One night after an argument he slams out of the house to go drink at the local bar. When he comes home the worst possible sight meets his eyes. His wife and daughter are dead, and they’ve been brutally mutilated.

Charlie has no alibi and falls under suspicion. In the aftermath of the trauma he leaves the NYPD and without a license investigates crimes, hoping to get The Traveler, the man who murdered his family. His hunt takes him from New York to Virginia and Louisiana. In each place he’s met with violence and gruesome crimes.

The mystery is complex and peopled with unusual characters. That part made me want to read the book. However, to get the mystery you have to wade through gore. It was rather overdone for my taste. It took a long time to finish the book. I had to put it down and read other books to get away from the killing.

If you enjoy a good mystery, well written with quirky characters, you may enjoy this book. However, it is very bloody.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Near Death Experiences, Trance Mediums, Out of Body Experiences, and More

Surviving Death is a well research book covering the gamut of paranormal and afterlife experiences. The opening chapters deal with children who remember past lives. Much of this study has been done on children in Asia where belief in past lives is a part of the culture. However, the two cases cited by Kean take place in the United States. The cases of boys are well documented and unusually complete. One boy remembers his time as a WWII pilot killed near Okinowa, The other boy remembers his life in Hollywood.

The chapters on near death experiences, out of body experiences, and end of life experiences present a great deal of information, but if you’ve read extensively in the area, they don’t provide much additional information. However, the chapter by Pim van Lommel, MD which discusses non-local consciousness is well worth reading.

Perhaps the most difficult chapters to believe are those on trance mediums. The idea of whole body manifestations is difficult to comprehend, but the author includes her personal experiences as well as pictures of hands that materialized during séances in Warsaw, Poland in the 1920. The hands dipped themselves in wax and left glove like
impressions which were later filled with plaster of paris. The pictures are truly amazing.

The book contains not only chapters by the author, but chapters by other researchers as well as people who have experienced some of the phenomena. If you’re interested in survival after death, this book is a must read.

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Family Haunted by Secrets and the Plans for a Remarkable Machine

As a child, Miles witnesses the murder of his mother by a man in a chicken suit. Years later with a family of his own, he’s still haunted by the murder, but he has a way to find out who the killer was. His father left him the plans for a machine that can talk to the dead. The plans were stolen from Thomas Edison’s laboratory and kept secret for many years. Miles builds the machine and hopes to talk to his mother but a storm rises

Miles tells his wife, Lily, and his daughter, Eva, to get to high ground before the flood. He instructs his son to destroy the machine. When Eva wakes up, she has a gash on the back of her head and no memory of the flood. Her mother tells her that her father and brother are dead and that they must go into hiding to escape the killer.

This begins the story of Eva and her search for the truth about her family. The novel is partly mystery, partly paranormal happenings, and partly a thriller. Eva, a feisty teen, is the heroine of the story. After her mother is killed. Eva goes into hiding in a strange area called Burntown. There she meets oddball characters like the Fire Eaters, a group of women with mystical talents, Pru, a cafeteria lady with hidden dreams, Theo, a brilliant girl who owes money to a dangerous man, and others.

The story starts slowly. There are so many threads that need to woven together at the conclusion that it takes awhile to get all the characters and their stories on stage. I enjoyed the diverse characters, but I thought there were too many. The problem became obvious when the author tells the story from many different viewpoints.

The novel speeds up about halfway through and ends by bringing all the threads together for a surprising conclusion. If you enjoy mystery and suspense with a touch of the paranormal and a plethora of unusual characters, you may enjoy this book.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Juliet Solves Not One But Two Mysteries

Newly minted PI Juliet Langley has her plate full. She’s still managing the coffee house for her best friend, Pete Bennett. Now she is handling two jobs. Pete thinks it’s a lot, but he knows he can’t stop her becoming to be a PI. What he wants is for her to reconsider going back into the music business.

Almost immediately Juliet solves a case and then lands two more. Shane, one of Pete’s employees is devastated by the death of his girlfriend, a party planner. She was found dead at her desk from an overdose, and he wants Juliet to prove she was murdered. Juliet also works with Maya on a case to find out what’s happening in Gentry’s warehouse business. He thinks his partner is up to something shady.

The cases lead Juliet into the weird world of party planning where drugs, booze and sex top the list of entertainment. In the warehouse case, she goes on stakeout and meets up with her former lover, Ryder. They’re both suspicious about what’s happening at the warehouse.

The mysteries are fast paced and have enough twists to keep them interesting. Pete and Juliet are appealing when they team up to go undercover, as they do in the party planner case. Juliet shows her mettle and propensity for getting into tight spots in the warehouse case. These mysteries give you what you expect from this series.

The romance is disappointing. I feel the relationships are becoming strained. Pete and Juliet can’t get together and the reasons are becoming thin. The cops Juliet dates are another disappointment. She’s broken up with Ryder, who seemed to be a good match. John, the cop she’s now dating, seems too much of a nice guy to keep her interested for long. I enjoy the series, but the romantic tangles are getting old.

I received this book from Alibi for this review.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gambelli Investigates the Murder of the Prosecutor’s Mistress

Chief Inspector Gambelli is no particular friend of the senior prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice, Jean Michael Bertrand, but when Bertrand is accused of the murder of his mistress, he wants the best help to prove his innocence. Gambelli is not pleased at being dragged from the streets of Paris to the heat of a coastal island, but he agrees to help Bertrand even though the island is outside his jurisdiction.

The local officials have decided that Bertrand must have murdered the woman, but when Gambelli examines the body and starts to ask questions, they are forced to rethink their findings. Bertrand is released and Gambelli returns to Paris, but the case is far from over.

Gambelli is a typical detective. He is taciturn, has little brief for incompetent superiors, and is respected by his men. A hard character, he smokes and drinks too much, but his ability to follow the clues and get a resolution of the crime is exceptional.

I like books where the plot is intricate, and the investigator follows the clues to reach a conclusion. This book didn’t disappoint. Each time you think the case is resolved, a twist appears which sends the investigation in a new direction.

The background, both on the island and in Paris, supports the atmosphere of the case. The other characters, particularly Gambelli’s wife and his dog, enhance the story without taking it over. If you like detective novels, this is a good one.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Genetic Engineering and Human Trafficking Converge in this Thriller

In 2045, it’s possible to do discrete gene edits to change characteristic you don’t like. Gene manipulation is possible for not only embryos, but also adults. Kenneth Durand works for an Interpol unit concerned about the abuses of gene manipulation particularly when experimentation is being done of human trafficking victims.

Ken has discovered that an international crime figure, Marcus Demang Wyckers, leader of th Huli Jing, is behind much of the illegal vanity editing. Durand is on his trail when he is stabbed with a hypodermic needle on a crowded platform and awakes to find that he has been transformed into Wyckers.

The rest of the novel is Durand’s determination to bring Wyckers to justice, but is hampered by being a copy of the man himself.

For me, the book has both positives and negatives. I enjoyed the scientific descriptions of gene editing. The science is well researched and very interesting. The plot is quite thrilling, but unless you enjoy chase scenes, it is rather mundane.

The characters are disappointing. As in most novels that are primarily chase scenes, the characters are secondary to the plot. In this case, while Ken is an attractive character, there is little character growth and, the other characters are stereotypes.

If you enjoy science fiction with well researched science, you’ll enjoy this book, but if you’re put off by chase scene novels, give this a miss.

I received this book from Penguin for this review.