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.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Can a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet Lead to Alzheimer's?

The thesis of this book is that a high-carb, low-fat diet can lead to the development of Alzheimer's. For years the scientific and medical community has been recommending a high carb diet, but perhaps this is missing the point that the body, and particularly the brain, needs fat. The medical profession has been so obsessed with cholesterol that statins are routinely prescribed. These drugs are designed to reduce cholesterol, but what if cholesterol isn’t the culprit?

The author presents a succinct summary of the scientific data on nutrition and the relationship with brain function. I recommend reading this if you’re concerned about your probability of developing Alzheimer's or that of a loved one. The section is written in easy to understand language. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand it.

In addition to the scientific information, the book provides strategies for developing a high-fat diet, including foods to include, foods to avoid, and even how to deal with restaurant meals. It also includes cooking recommendations.

I highly recommend this book. The research is comprehensive. The suggestions for diet are reasonable, and the ideas provide a counterbalance to the fear of cholesterol and fat.

I received this book from Net Gallety
for this review.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Firefighter Tamed by Love

The only thing Finn likes more than being a firefighter is being single and having his pick of the available women. Rory is a fledgling attorney trying to establish her independence and make a name for herself in her mother’s law firm. At the opposite extreme from Finn, Rory hasn’t had time for romance, and she’s very naïve.

Finn’s parents would like him to settle down, but it’s the furthest thing from his mind until he sees Rory. She is one of the attorneys representing the fire company, and Finn can’t take his eyes off her. The only problem is that she’s the captain’s daughter, and he has made it his mission to keep Rory away from an entanglement with a firefighter.

Finn is sure the captain doesn’t like him, and when the captain gives him responsibility for Flash the firehouse dog, Finn is convinced of it. The beauty of it is that Flash, who has more energy than he knows what to do with, attracts Rory’s attention and leads to a meeting and cooperation between Finn and Rory to tame Flash.

This second book in the Boston Love Series can be read as a standalone novel although some characters appear in both books. I enjoyed the characters. Finn is a sexy guy, and it’s fun to see him trying to cope with the idea that he might want to settle-down with one woman. Rory has little experience dating, but when she sees Finn she knows what she wants, and her thoughts are not remotely innocent. However, my favorite character is Flash. How can you not fall for a lovable dog who does everything wrong?

If you enjoy a tender romance that will make you laugh and cry, you’ll like this book. The characters do a lot of growing over the course of the novel which makes you keep reading to see if they can overcome their personal limitations and find happiness in love.

I received this book from Loveswept for this review.

A Young Man Dies in an Immigration Retention Center

Hayden McCarthy is a young attorney on her way to making partner. When she’s assigned a wrongful death case against the US government, she wonders whether this will assure her route to partnership or be a roadblock.

The case involves a young man killed in a detention center in Texas. His mother and younger brother crossed into the US legally. Hayden wonders why the older brother was forced to take the illegal immigration route. The mother brings the case wanting to know what happened to her son.

 The case exposes divisions within the law firm that frighten Hayden as it becomes apparent that someone wants this case to disappear. Hayden’s life is complicated when she meets her cousin’s roommate. Andrew is attractive, and they’re drawn to each other, but Andrew’s father is a famous congressman, and Hayden doesn’t feel she fits in.

This is a romantic suspense novel, but unlike so many this one spends most of the time unraveling the mystery instead of examining the love life of the main characters. There are no steamy bedroom scenes and the whole novel has a thread of faith running through the characters thoughts and actions.

I recommend this novel if you enjoy a well-written mystery with plenty of suspense. It’s not particularly hard to guess what the underlying problems are, but the pace is fast, the characters interesting, and there are enough twists to keep the story interesting.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Secret Codes Embedded in the Hebrew Old Testament

A persistent tradition says that coded messages are embedded in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Timothy Smith was led to explore this tradition by a confluence of dreams and experiences in his life. What he found shocked him and led to a years long search to understand why he had found the codes and what it meant.

The book reads like an adventure story from Timothy’s dreams to his year in the Canadian wilderness, and finally, to finding his name and his wife’s in a section of Genesis that had special relevance to his family. The stories are intriguing and the messages he finds in the Old Testament after rearranging the columns in a particular are even more so.

I enjoyed the book. It was easy to follow Timothy’s adventures. His reactions to his findings are presented in more detail than how he found the codes. He does describe in several areas how he discovered the coded messages, but the description is not very technical; I suspect by design. It left me with an unsatisfied feeling of not knowing precisely how he came to find the messages, except for the first one that was his name. Although probably not appropriate for a general audience, I would be interested in reading a more technical description of how he discovered the codes.

I recommend this book if you enjoy puzzles and adventure stories. It is particularly intriguing that it appears ancient tradition has some basis in reality and that coded messages are contained in the Old Testament.

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Can Life Be Better than Completely Fine?

Eleanor Oliphant has a life, and she thinks it’s fine. She works five days a week as a finance clerk, and spends her weekends with pizza and vodka and calls from Mummy. Then her computer breaks down, and she meets Raymond, the unkempt IT guy at her office.

Eleanor has few social skills, she says exactly what she thinks which is often off-putting. Raymond sees through this and a friendship begins. When Raymond and Eleanor help Sammy, an elderly man who has collapsed on the sidewalk, the trio begins a friendship in which they all help each other. Raymond, knowing that something troubles Eleanor encourages her to get counseling. This changes Eleanor’s life as she reconnects with her childhood.

This book is filled with unusual characters that worm their way into your heart as they struggle with their lives and help each other. Eleanor’s character may be hard to follow at times if you have experienced depression. The author has done an excellent job of making her problems real. As she connects with her childhood, she finds that perhaps her existence wasn’t so completely fine after-all.

I highly recommend this book if you like characters who struggle with an overcome severe problems. I think you’re remember Eleanor, Raymond and Sammy for a long time.

I received this book from Penguin for this review.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Finding Your Way Home

Melanie, a novelist, is suffering from writer’s block. She has a novel to finish. The deadline is approaching, and she can’t seem to make the story work. The economy is bad and Craig, her husband and a well-respected builder, is having trouble making ends met when no one is buying houses.

Craig does have one construction project, but it adds to the stress in their marriage. He’s building a house for Serena, a beautiful woman. He’s not interested, but Melanie can’t help fantasizing about it. The fantasizing is part of the problem in their marriage. It makes her a good novelist, but when she lives more in the world of her story than with Craig, he feels abandoned. When a friend offers Melanie a cottage to get away and finish her novel, the problems escalate.

There is an interesting sub-plot involving Melanie and Craig’s neighbors, Jill and Marcus. Jill’s behavior is becoming increasingly erratic with nightmares and OCD. It’s a beautiful story of how Marcus stands by her to get her issues resolved.

The story is told from the first person perspective of each character. The presentation gives a picture of each character’s struggles with his or her own issues and how they view the other person. It makes for a very rich story.

In the end, home is where your heart is and both couples in the book struggle with what that means for them. I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it for the insights into troubled marriages and how having faith helps in difficult times.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.