Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An Amusing Con Reminiscent of White Collar

Nick and Kate are together again. They first appeared in The Heist in which Kate chased Nick around the world before
catching him. Now he's working for the FBI, after they sprang him from jail, and Kate is his partner. Their first assignment is to steal a bronze rooster from Carter Grove, ex White House chief of staff, and current CEO of Black Rino, a security company that does the dirty work for the administration. The problem is that the rooster is located in Carter's palatial mansion, and the security is the best in the world. For Nick, that only makes the challenge more interesting.

The pace is fast, the characters interesting, and the dialogue amusing. Kate, an ex Navy Seal, is a tough lady. Nicky is brilliant and hot. The sexual sizzle is there, but it doesn't detract from the plot. Nick loves the challenge of doing the impossible; Kate tries to be the voice of reason, but she loves the excitement and danger as much as he does.

If you liked White Collar or The Grifters, you'll find Kate and Nick an amusing new pair of con-artists. The book is a quick read with lots of excitement and amusing puzzles. If you just want to be entertained this is the book for you. I loved it.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Wealthy Family Faces Tragedy in the WWI Era

On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, Daisy Lennox is caught up in the suffragette movement. In her wealthy family, this is a scandal. Daisy doesn't want to cause her parents pain, but she also wants to do what she believes is right. Her friend Ruby tempts her to come to one of their demonstrations. When Daisy sees Ruby being taken away by the police, she gets into the fray and ends up in custody herself.

The scandal of Daisy's arrest is overshadowed by another family tragedy. Her father's partner embezzled a great deal of money, and the firm is bankrupt. The loss of their fortune causes the family to move to their country place on the outskirts of Pendleton Hall. Here Daisy becomes reacquainted with her childhood sweetheart, Rupert, heir to Pendleton Hall.

Daisy and Rupert become engaged, but on the eve of their wedding war is declared and the wedding is postponed indefinitely. Daisy becomes a member of the FANYs, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. She loves the challenge and volunteers to serve in France where the bloody battles are being fought.

If you loved Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey, this is your book. Daisy is a wonderful character. She knows how a young lady is supposed to behave in upper-class society, but she wants to be her own person. She shows her grit when she first becomes responsible for the family in their move to the country and later in France.

The book is fast paced and the plot is well structured. It may even make you cry. If you enjoy romantic historical novels, Dilly Court may become you new favorite author. She's mine.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A First Born Girl Forced to Live as a Male

The Madronians conquered the R'tan and now force them to live by Madronian customs. In the Madronian culture, first born females are considered worthless garbage. The only way a first born R'tan girl can survive is if her father declares her male. Tiadone is a first born girl, declared male at birth. She has been raised as a male and now must face the male initiation: bonding with her Rapion, a large bird, and becoming a boarder patroller.

Although successfully passing her tests, Tiadone has female feelings that she struggles to hide including sexual feeling for her best friend and partner, Ratho. The only one who seems to understand her and accept her completely is her Rapion, Mirko.

The book is a fascinating presentation of gender identity issues. Set in an ancient culture, it raises issues of how women find their identity and accept their unique qualities in a male dominated culture.

I thought the author created a very believable world quite different from the present day. It's fascinating to read about the rites performed by this
primitive people. My favorite was the twining that takes place between the human and the Rapion.

Unfortunately, the book is rather slow. Tiadone goes on patrol with Rathko and has adventures, but it has a sameness that gets rather boring. The characters are interesting, but didn't really draw me. While I like the book and found the topic interesting, I had trouble staying interested. I recommend this book if you enjoy reading about unusual worlds.

I reviewed this book for Book Look Bloggers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Action and Adventure in the Land of the Giants

Thomas is now and old man serving as Forest Warden for the giants. Dark shadows creep into the land. Roving bands of brigands terrify the villages, enslaving the people and stealing their possessions. Thomas' grandson, also named Thomas is a rebellious teenager, but when his sister Rose is kidnapped by the brigands, he, like his grandfather, accepts responsibility and vows to find her and bring her back.

Book Two is much more of an action adventure than Book One. We meet more characters: Samantha, a girl taken as a slave, but with a mission; Herdshepard, a giant who has lost hope; Big John, leader of a band of brigands; and many others.

This is a more complex story than Book One. The interactions of both good and bad characters and particularly the responsibilities of the giants makes for an exciting story. The book is an excellent choice for reading aloud and can be enjoyed by both parents and children. The lessons make
good discussion topics particularly with middle grade books verging on becoming rebellious teenagers.

I highly recommend this book. It's as delightful as Book One and the illustrations complement the text well.

I reviewed the book for PR by the Book.

A Hero's Journey

For hundreds of years giants have helped Thomas' village, but one morning they disappear. The townspeople are frantic. They can see a track showing where the giants went, but no one is brave enough to leave the village to find the giants until Thomas steps up. He doesn't want to be a hero. He doesn't want to leave his wife and daughter, but it's the right thing to do.

This tale is a true hero's journey. Thomas follows the giant's path, experiences adventures, and learns valuable lessons. Although the book is written for children, it can also be enjoyed by adults making it a perfect read aloud book. The lessons are easy to understand and make good discussion topics.

The illustrations are delightful They make Thomas and his adventures come alive. I highly recommend this book for all ages.

I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Child's Eye View of Growing Up in a Large Family

With nine siblings growing up on a farm in the Maine woods, Helen Peppe had an unusual childhood. The farm boasted a variety of animals, but as every farmer knows some of the animals become food for the family. Helen had great difficulty with this as a child because she wanted to love all the animals. The tension between feeding the family and Helen's love of animals is a theme that is repeated throughout the book.

Being the youngest in a very large family, no one had time to give exclusive attention to Helen. She grew up gathering her ideas of life from watching what people did, overhearing scraps of conversation, and asking numerous questions of anyone standing still. I found it fascinating to see how she looked at her family since it was a very unique point of view.

The book is filled with anecdotes, some amusing, some sad. My favorite was catching the pig the family found walking along the road when they were on the way to spend time at a summer camp. Catching a pig and holding on to it can be difficult and highly amusing.

Although I enjoyed the book, I found the writing unsatisfactory at times. I got tired of reading the rather drawn out descriptions of her siblings, such as my hair-twirling-pretty sister, each time they appeared. I wish she'd used pseudonyms. My other quibble was in the disjoint character of some of the incidents. For example, in the barn fire chapter, we start with a rather lengthy description of Helen's desire to steal some of the pink pie when everyone's back is turned. We move from that to the barn fire and then back to the pie. While I'm sure this is the way it happened, reporting on life can make a good story disorganized.

This is a humorous book with some heart warming aspects. Although the author's tends to ramble, it's illuminating to see how a child views the world.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Blessings of Growing Old

Old age doesn't have to be a frightening time. Many people as they age experience health problems, loss of loved ones, and loneliness. However, as Arnold points out, there are many ways to make a difference and fill your life with purpose. Even for the old, life can be rewarding.

The book is organized around a series of stories about how seniors handle the problems of aging. Arnold challenges us as we get older to become more joyful. Loss of independence, disease and loss of friends can lead to clinging to the past and feeling depressed about what is no longer possible. The people whose stories fill this book have gotten beyond that point. In spite of the circumstances they have learned to thank God for the gift of life and to give to others.

My favorite chapter is “Finding Peace.” As the possibility of death becomes a reality, many people look for peace, but peace can be illusory if we are burdened with old hurts and grudges. Arnold counsels facing these problems rather than letting them fester. Confronting problems can lead to a breakthrough that brings peace to our last days.

I loved this book. The stories of people aging with grace is very uplifting. In fact, the advice in this book could help people of all ages. I highly recommend it.

I reviewed this book for Handlebar Marketing.

More of a Character Study Than a Murder Mystery

It's the dead of winter in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Danny, a gentle, mentally challenged man, brings a bird he carved to his friend Mindy for her fortieth birthday. When he enters her trailer, he finds her lying on the floor dead. Being found beside the dead woman, Danny becomes the main suspect. He escapes and a manhunt through the frozen forest ensues setting off a string of progressively more violent incidents.

I thought the book would be about finding the real murderer. However, the author tells us almost immediately who killed her. Since we know who committed the murder, this isn't a typical murder mystery. However, the chase through the woods brings together an interesting cast of characters: the aging Sheriff, his violent deputy, an alcoholic State Police Officer, Danny, and the people he works for at the laundromat.

The author moves from one character to another so we see the unfolding action from a variety of perspectives. Danny is perhaps the most unusual character. The author did a good job of showing us the world through the eyes of a mentally challenged man. The other characters are well drawn, but more stereotypical.

The pace is fast and the book is not long so it's easy to get through it quickly. I recommend the book for the characters. The plot is not strong and the level of violence can make it hard to read. If you're not a fan of violent scenes, this may not be your book.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Scientists Discuss Their Beliefs about Creationism

Creationism is a major schism between science and religion. Books on both sides of the argument make a case for one or the other. In this book, Stafford chose a different path. He tells the stories of eleven scientists from a variety of backgrounds and scientific disciplines. Each scientist has excellent credentials and works in the main stream of scientific research, or started their careers that way.

The scientists beliefs range from:
  • Young Earth Creationists – who believe the earth is less than ten thousand years old and Noah's flood explains the earth's geology and fossil distribution.
  • Intelligent Design Creationists – who believe the earth is much older than ten thousand years, but requires an intelligence to explain the development of life.
  • Evolutionary Creationists – who believe that God is responsible for creating life using the method of evolution.

The scientists' stories and how they came to their beliefs are diverse, but each has thought seriously about the problem of creationism and has come to their belief through a struggle with scripture and with science.

I enjoyed this book. The author respects both science and religion, and t's an easy book to read and understand. The scientists tell their own stories, but in the last chapter Stafford presents his own views. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in science and creationism, but I think it would be most useful for young people struggling with their beliefs and career choices.

I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.