Friday, October 31, 2014

History of the World in 1,000 Objects

What a truly fun and amazing book. First of all be aware that this book weighs a bunch. When the package first showed up from Amazon I didn't think it was a book, it was just too heavy. But upon opening it up here was this treasure inside that is becoming one of my favorite fun things to look through, read and learn from.

No I have not finished the entire book, that will take a long time. But what is so amazing are the pictures of the items that are being described and the stories that they tell.

The book is laid out by different time periods of history. Then within those time periods they have amassed pictures of items from pottery to petticoats. Then they describe each item and it's relationship to that period of history.

As a reference book this will be a fun addition to any library, your children can start looking through it and find items of interest that will help them create even more informed essay's on history for their education. I think also that this will help teach kids and adults alike about history in a fun way. It truly is a stunning piece of work and one that you will not want to hide away, but place on a coffee table and keep handy for times of learning and enjoyment.

I think also this would be a great addition to a home library for those who home school, your kids will love it.


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Shadows of Christmas Past, by Christine Feehan


This being a romance novel written by a secular writer means that there are some sections that my Christian readers might not appreciate. Let me again say that you can just skip those three to six pages of text and move on in the story and not miss a thing. But before you let your teenage read you might want to read it yourself. With that said, here is my review:

Maia Armstrong has a gift. She is the perfect veterinarian. She seems to be able to heal any wounds on any animals. She also has an uncanny ability to calm the animals down while she works with them. So, why if she is so good does she travel from place to place filling in for other doctors? Why doesn't she have her own clinic?

Oh, and did I mention that she is beautiful? Not only that she is a great drummer. When she is not working she likes to go to the local bar and fill in with local bands as their drummer. She is really good.

Then there is Cole Steele. He is aloof from everyone. He is hard, strong willed, intimidating and is a bad boy to the bone. He left home as soon as he could because of an overly abusive father. Since he has been away he has spent time in jail, intimidated way to many people and seduced his share of woman, never settling down.

But he has returned to town because his father has been murdered and he has discovered that he has a half brother, Jase, whom he has never known about or meant. His fourteen year old half brother needs a guardian. Cole returns to fill that role.

Oh, and as an aside the murdered father has left each of his sons 32 million dollars as their inheritance.

But the town people think that Cole probably killed his father and is planning on killing his half brother to get the full inheritance.

Cole and Jase go to town to have dinner and run into Maia. To say that Cole is intrigued is a light statement. He is captivated.

Through a series of events Maia, Cole and Jase will end up spending Christmas together. Will it be a disaster or will it be healing for to very hurt young men?

The story is very well written. The tension that is raised is amazing. The characters are each developed in perfect harmony to the story and the secrets of each ones past comes to the surface as they learn to trust each other and care for each other.

This is just a perfect Christmas read for anyone wanting that special heartwarming story.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hello from the Gillespies, by Monica McInerney

What a fun book to read. It is rather long, but it is so enjoyable that you won't feel like it has taken you that long to read.

Each year Angela Gillespie writes a Christmas Letter to send to all of the family and friends. She and her family live in Australia and are posted at an Outback Station. The letters always give fun stories of the family, facts about the children and their antics and laughable issues of what happens on an Outback Station.

But with the kids grown and for the most part gone, there is more time to sit down and think about the Christmas letter. Unfortunately Angela gets a bit to honest and writes a letter that gives out more of her frustrations and the honest truth about life in the Outback than what she intended. The letter gets sent and well as you can imagine it strikes a nerve with it's readers who are a bit shocked and amazed at the honest letter that they have received.

The consequences are enlightening and funny. The truth of the letter brings more response than any other Christmas letter they have ever sent. The drama that will unfold will keep you intrigued, inspired, laughing, crying and well, just feeling good that there are honest families in the world that have had some of the same struggles that your family has had.

This is a Christmas Letter worth reading.


Woman with a Gun, By Philip Margolin

A story about a novelist writing a story about a picture. What a unique concept. The picture on the front cover is a photograph in an art gallery on the East Coast. It captures the eye of Stacy Kim, a receptionist at a law firm, but an aspiring writer. She is intrigued by the picture and wants to know the story behind it so that she can write a novel based on the events.

Margolin, then takes us back to the story behind the picture. He takes us to the evening that Raymond Cahill is murdered. His wife Megan is the woman holding the gun, standing on the beach, still wearing her wedding dress from the events of earlier in the day. She has no memory of what happened. She was hit on the head and has lost all thoughts of what went on.

A neighbor, Sally Moran, happens by on her way home from work, a camera in hand, because she is a photographer, and she snaps the picture of Megan holding the gun.

The book then goes into the investigation about the murder. Not only is there one murder but then another in quick succession. But neither will get solved as the one witness can't remember a thing.

Then we switch to ten years later and Stacy Kim arriving on the scene, in Oregon, wanting to interview those involved in the murder and in the taking of the picture. What she doesn't know is that she will stir up long kept secrets and that murder will start again as the killer wants to keep the secret hidden.

The novel is very intriguing. It is unique and has plenty of unanswered questions throughout the book that will keep you guessing and working at figuring out who the real killer is and what the motive was.

I guarantee that you will enjoy this and that the real answers, while they may appear easy to figure out, will actually turn out to be hard to finalize and the motive, well that will be even harder to guess until the end.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Crude Carrier, by Rex Burns

This story is about a father and daughter Private Investigator's firm that is employed by a family whose son has died aboard a super tanker in the Indian Ocean. The Rossi's want to know what happened to their son and where his belongings have gone. They are frustrated as the Maritime Company will not give them any information other than he fell down a ladder and died and was buried at sea. They just want more information so that they can have closure.

As James and Julie Raiford start their investigation that will take them from Denver Colorado to London England and a SuperTanker off the coast of Saudi Arabia. What they start to uncover as they look into the situation is that there are discrepancies in the stories and that someone seems to want to cover things up. A local investigator that was first working on the case has been murdered. While there appears no direct link to the case of the dead sailor, they can't be sure that it wasn't.

The Raiford's will uncover a larger criminal problem than anyone can imagine. It may cost both James and Julie their lives as those behind the criminal acts are not bothered by murdering anyone investigating or talking about the incident.

What I enjoyed most about the novel was the author's description of the supertanker and life aboard the vessel. Also his knowledge of the maritime trade is well researched and gives some real depth to the story. I knew very little of these oil tankers but learned much while reading the novel.

I think the story is well developed, the characters well documented and the life of a sailor very detailed and given to the reader in a way to make you angry with the officers (the elite class) and sad for the deckhands (the poor and impoverished). How else can you put it when the officers are getting wealthy but the deckhand works for room and board and $1.00 a day.

I'm looking forward to reading some of Rex Burns other novels. If they are developed as well as this one they will be fun to work through.

So, why only 1 star? Well, while he developed the story well I felt that it could have had a bit more development and a more interesting ending. But that doesn't detract from the overall story and it is still highly enjoyable reading.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dead Drop, by Jesse Miles

Jack Salvo takes us back to the days of Jim Rockford and the Rockford files. He is a private eye who has a penchant for getting in a bit over his head, or does he?

As a Philosophy Professor at the local Junior College we find that Salvo has a different take on life than most people, a logical take on things. But this logical take gives him an analytical mind that suits itself well for a detective. He is able to think outside the box and put the pieces together quickly and well. He also seems to be a pretty good judge of people and their character.

In this novel Jack is hired by a local aerospace company to find the person in the company who has been embezzling money from their accounts payable system. There are four employees who are suspected of the crime and he has to narrow it down. Jack is to report to a committee about what he finds. On that committee are two women, Darcy and Lilith. Jack thinks that Lilith, the Asian gal is cute, but she is a bit sarcastic just like him and it appears that they won't hit it off, maybe. Then there is Darcy who takes a shine to Jack, she is good looking, but he is more intrigued with Lilith.

So, we have a crime to solve as well as kind of a romantic triangle. But the crime gets a bit more involved. There will come to light that there was a earlier embezzlement for more money, but who would have done that one? Also there will be murder and maybe a crime boss involved.

All the twists and turns make for a nice crime novel with a "Dragnet" type of feel for it.

I love the novel and all of the descriptions of Los Angeles that come along with it. The scenes are all accurate and as a former Los Angeles resident I loved the memories that they brought.

The only thing I kind of give the author a few minor minus points is that he has a tendency to use three compare and contrast descriptors in a row several times in the book and it seems a bit cheesy, but then again, that's what makes it kind of like an episode of "Dragnet" or the "Rockford Files."


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spectrum, by Alan Jacobson

This book will be available on October 7, 2014.  I want to thank the publisher and author for allowing me to have an advance copy to read. I really enjoyed the book.  Below is my review.

Karen Vail is a cop’s cop. She is everything a department wants in a new recruit that can be molded into a model cop. Unfortunately she breaks the mold. She has good instincts and is able to always think outside the box. That is what brings her to the attention of Isidore Proschetta, her training officer at the academy.

He teams her up with Carmine Russo, a Detective, and well, the rest is history. Russo takes Vail under his wing and starts to teach her everything he knows. Unfortunately for him she knows more than he does at times. She thinks differently.

Vail will eventually leave the NYPD and join the FBI and become part of the BAU, Behavioral Analysis Unit. She will become a Profiler that will set the stage for many new things in the FBI and law enforcement.

The main gist of this novel is a Serial Killer, Hades, who is giving the NYPD all kinds of grief, especially Russo and Vail. It will take them over20 years to come to a conclusion on this case. But getting there will be quite the adventure for all involved.

The story is well written. The details are amazing. The outlining of the BAU and how the FBI started to bring this together is great. Karen Vail is just down right amazing.

The novel has two story lines running. One from the 1970’s and then Vail’s career staring in the 1990’s. But eventually the two stories will come together and bring you all the info you need to start making assumptions about who the serial killer is.

I won’t say much more about that as I don’t want to give anything away.

My only concern with the novel was the length. It at times seems to be a rambling narrative that takes us to places that we don’t know why we have to go there. But in the long run it all pulls together and makes plenty of sense.

While I think it is a bit too long, I wasn’t bored. I wanted to get through the book and find out all that happens. I was hooked.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves law enforcement books. You will get hooked and love it.