Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Couple Good Mysteries

13993941

I started the book slowly and put it down for awhile, but I did finally pick it up and decide to finish it. And I'm glad I did. Sarah, the main character, grew on me. I didn't like her much at first, but she turned into a strong likeable character. I did speed read through the last half of the book. When I discovered that there was treasure and not so much secrets that they were chasing, I started to speed read assuming I wouldn't like it. However, I really liked it and slowed down about 75% of the way through to read it carefully. The ending was not tied up into a neat bow and I'm glad it wasn't. The ending was satisfying, but not complete. However, a large part of the novel and the way Sarah was written make the 'incomplete' ending the right one and the preferred one. 

If you like stories of family secrets, read this. If you like strong female characters, read this. If you like a setting by the ocean in the British Isles, read this one. 

It is not free of pain and is free of excessive and unnecessary romance. I was pleased on both counts, but not everyone would agree with me. So be aware of those factors as well.

The Charter [Kindle Edition]

Gillian Hamer 

Kindle Price:$3.90
  • Print Length: 396 pages

13599050

I liked it more as I read more. At first, I thought the main character was a bit childish and so were some of the scenes. However, I kept reading and it got better. The characters were more likeable and the writing got better. There was still a scene or two that I thought were unnecessary. That is pretty minor. The characters went through some really painful things in the book or had lived through them. I have to admire an author who will write her characters through all that. Overall, a pleasant read in a great setting with great characters.

Firefly Beach [Kindle Edition]

Meira Pentermann Amy Feiman 

Print List Price:$11.00
Kindle Price:$2.99
You Save:$8.01 (73%)
  • Print Length: 332 pages

These are just a couple books that I read and enjoyed. I was not asked by anyone to read them or review them.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Telling Room - Book Review

Let me apologize for the break I took in posting. I am currently 37 weeks pregnant, so I got busy and this fell behind. I hope to fix that. I have lots of books to be reviewing on here!

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese

How can you not fall in love with this title? It draws you to the book and you just have to pick it up and see what it is all about. At least it did for me! Then I learned that it was set in Spain and I was sold. This is a non fiction book. I suppose it would be considered a biography because it follows Ambrosio de Molinos for the most part. It is is also obviously about food and culture as well. The story draws you in and the characters are fabulous and real! The writing itself is a bit dense, so it is not a quick and easy read. However, it is a good read. Just be prepared to read it slowly.

My Goodreads Review:

The descriptions of Spain, the food, and the land are rather magical. The people in the story are powerful and memorable. The story is as much about the man who perfected the cheese as it is about the author. 

There were several words that were new to me and I had to look them up. I haven't had to do that very often and it was kinda cool to be experiencing new words. But that's beside the point.

We all have stories that are so close to us that we hesitate to share them with people. This is a story like that for the author, but he shares it anyway and I'm glad he did.

Book Details:

In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets — usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong. . . . By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale–like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta. What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing. Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 573 pages
  • Publisher: Large Print Press; Lrg edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
Price: $14.21

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where they have the information about the book. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life - Book Review

Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life
I was a bit hesitant to review this one. It sounded like an interesting story, but what if it was all these crazy ghost stories. What would I say about it? Thankfully this book is not at all like that. As a teacher, I know that custodian is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the building. Mr. Joe gives voice to all the custodians who do an amazing job and don't get the recognition they deserve. For that reason alone, I think everyone should read it. But thankfully, that's not it. Mr. Joe also lets us into his personal life. We see all the painful memories as well as the the happy ones.

My only caveat is that at the end he gets into some spiritual ideas that I personally disagree with. However, they are a part of his story and it is not my place to agree or disagree with it. I only say this to warn a reader who might be sensitive to various spiritual ideas.

My Amazon Review:

By definition a custodian has responsibility for or looks after something. Mr. Joe is a custodian in every sense of the word. He had a responsibility to the the school system he worked for and the meat plant before that. He looked after his family even when it was hard. He had responsibility for these stories and we are lucky that he has shared them with us. His narration is gentle and comfortable even when the stories are painful, embarrassing, and just hard.

There are ghosts in his stories and some of them are still living. There are ghosts that played tricks and ghosts that looked after him. There are ghosts of failed relationships and ghosts of painful memories. Mr. Joe has not had an easy life, but even in the telling he lets us know that it is all okay. 

An amazing story told in a beautiful way.

Book Details:

Do you believe in ghosts? Joseph Barnett didn t until he became a school custodian in a midlife career change. Joe had no idea that his first assignment, working nights in a school, he d be forced to confront his darkest fears. "Ghosts are part of my story," says Joe. "I believe in them; I have no choice. After you ve seen one ghost, you can go back and rationalize it. But after you ve looked a couple in the eye like I have, you believe. Otherwise, you doubt yourself. I ve done that, too and wondered if I was losing my mind but I know what I saw and heard. Here s something else I know: there are many ways to be haunted, and not all of my ghosts were dead. That s the other part of my story. It took almost becoming a ghost myself for me to see my life differently. I believe in ghosts, and I believe in myself. But back when this all started, I was just a guy trying to make a living."

380 pages
2013 Aug 1
Book length
Publication date

PublisherBettie Youngs Books (August 1, 2013)
LanguageEnglish
Price: $14.52



Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Golden Crystal: A Book Review

 Photo Credit: Amazon

The only caveat I will add to the review is that there were a couple places where I was confused or there were typos. I'm not sure which it was. However, I assume the copy I received wasn't the final copy and those things will be fixed.

My Amazon Review:

This book is a Sci fi Action Adventure Ancient History Thriller.June 28, 2013
As you can tell, it is hard to classify! A book that doesn't fit easily into a genre is a book that breaks some rules. And I like it that way!

Mr. Thacker has written a superb novel that I thoroughly enjoyed! The ancient history intrigued me. The sci fi marveled me. The action adventure startled me. And he even threw in a smidge of theology in a very simple and satisfying way. I loved the experience of reading this book. I loved the what ifs this book made me consider. And I fell in love with the brave and noble characters that save the day.

I generally do not read action adventure thriller books because the are a bit too brutal for my tastes. This book did have some brutality in it and at times I was uncomfortable. However the rest of the book was too compelling to stop reading.

If you are squeamish about death, read this book with caution. (I think you should still read it though.) If you typically don't like sci fi books, let this one change your mind. If you don't like historical fiction, read this one anyway because it most certainly isn't boring! And if you are uncomfortable with the mention or discussion of a deity in novels, you can skip the page(s). (But I wouldn't recommend that because I think the pages are too good to skip.)

I think there is something that everyone will enjoy in this novel, so I think you should read it!

Editorial Reviews

Review

In 1791, two men began planning the layout for the nation's capital city. One is shunned and resigns in disgrace, and the other is all but forgotten. Years later, an original copy of the plans long thought to have been destroyed is found, with hastily marked notations by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

During the second World War, American military scientists discover some fascinating properties of the hydrogen atom and its link to an ancient mystical number. The exact findings are never published, but a national laboratory is built in 1943 to further their research in covert silence. America is told it is a defense project, code-named The Manhattan Project.

An ego-maniacal entrepreneur and his company, Vilocorp, will stop at nothing to build the perfect human specimen. His firm's research has been getting closer every day, but they seem to have uncovered a horrific, ancient secret that has been locked away for thousands of years.

Now, it's up to two men to understand the mystery surrounding the events and ancient symbolism before Vilocorp unleashes a hellish fury upon the earth; one that hasn t been seen for ages... --From the back cover...

Book Details

422 pages
2013 Jul 1
Book length
Publication date

PublisherTurtleshell Press; 2 edition (July 1, 2013)
LanguageEnglish
ISBN-101490353135


Price: $14.18

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, Story Cartel, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Middle Earth and Paris: Two Reviews

I have lots of ideas about Sgt. Fiana Thrace and the Environmental Crimes Division. I have every intention of working on that story. However right now, I'm stuck in a reading mode right now. As such, I'm going to be posting some reviews of what I have been reading.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit Photo Credit: Goodreads

I somehow had the mistaken notion that this was a boys book and therefore not interesting to me. I was completely wrong! I'm actually a little sad that it took me this long to get over that faulty notion. On the strong recommendation of a couple friends and my husband, I finally caved in and read the book. I LOVED IT!!

My Goodreads Review:

I can not believe that it has taken me so long to read this book. The detail is a bit overwhelming at first. However, you quickly become immersed in this new world where the danger is there, but the story teller keeps your feet from the fire. You are at a comfortable distance from the danger so that you do not feel the need to stop reading. The character of Bilbo changes and expands in a natural movement with the story. The character of some of the dwarves, elves, and so on remain a bit illusive until the end. 

After reading this one, I am even considering reading the trilogy. 

If you have not yet read this book, do yourself a favor and read it. It is a delightful story that is well written and well paced.


Book Description

 November 8, 2012
This lavish gift edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic features cover art, illustrations, and watercolor paintings by the artist Alan Lee.
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies worldwide and established itself as a modern classic.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6964 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0395873460
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 114th edition (November 8, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009VN1Q00


(I reviewed this book on my own and did not receive a copy from any publisher.)

The Paris Lawyer

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I think a few weeks ago I mentioned that I wasn't a big fan a books set in France. This one unfortunately is no exception. 

My Goodreads Review:

It could be a great summer read for some people. The characters are all very unique and unlike any that I have read in other novels. The main character Catherine is fighting for the rights of others, even if she is doing it for her own reasons. The mystery does seem to be multi-layered. And the bad guy slowly reveals himself. 

I did notice there were a couple times when the point of view shifted to a different character unnecessarily. And several of the men were very creepy. Catherine was not really a favorite either. So I didn't finish the book. 

It wasn't for me, but maybe some who have a broader reading preferences would like it.

Book Description

 July 2, 2012

Winner of the Grand Prix Sang d’Encre crime fiction award in 2011, for the first time in English.

As a child, Catherine Monsigny was the only witness to a heinous crime. Now, she is an ambitious rookie attorney in sophisticated modern-day Paris. On the side, she does pro bono work and hits the jackpot: a major felony case that could boost her career. A black woman is accused of poisoning her rich farmer husband in a peaceful village in central France, where the beautiful, rolling hills hold dark secrets. While preparing the case, Catherine’s own past comes back with a vengeance. This fast- paced story follows Catherine’s determined search for the truth in both her case and her own life. Who can she believe? And can you ever escape from your past? The story twists and turns, combining subtle psychological insight with a detailed sense of place.

Product Details

  • File Size: 517 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Le French Book (July 2, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008H3QNSU


Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 3

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 1
Environmental Crimes Division: Part 2

After a long and largely sleepless night, Thrace had a file of information ready for the captain. When he entered the office, she was following him with the information.

"After much research, I have discovered quite a bit of information. First as I was looking for people who had access to Tae or its artifacts. Of course there are the scientists and high level politicians. However, I found a surprising group with access to Tae, garbage collectors."

The captain stopped fixing his coffee and turned to look at her. "Garbage collectors? How did that happen?"

"Fifteen years ago there was a movement to rescue items from Tae. As such they sent in garbage collectors to collect artifacts, elements, and other items from Tae to be used here. The plan was to live on the Space Fort for three months. They would take a ship to various parts of Tae to search for items. They would bring them back and clean them as much as possible. After three months they were to come back and further clean the items and turn them over to the Department of Science. However after three months the mission was considered so successful that they were assigned to the Space Fort for three more months."

"Six months at the Space Fort? I have never heard of anyone being assigned there that long. Three months is longer than most terms up there. What happened to them when they came home?"

"There was only one crew of 7 men. James Ardan, Bruno Blanda, Micheal Cyra, Nolan Gildava, Robert Lagash, George Motya, and Felix Sulci. They all made it back, but since then they have had very different lives. Bruno Blanda was from North Region and returned there. However within 5 years he was dead of an unknown disease. Micheal Cyra was from West Region. For the last 7 years, he has been in a home for the mentally unstable. George Motya was from Central Region. He came back and settled in North Region. He has also been dead from an unknown disease for the past 9 years. Felix Sulci was from South Region and settled back there. He has also been in a home for the mentally unstable for almost 10 years. Nolan Gildava was from the East Region and has settled back there. He has been living happily with his family since his return. James Ardan and Robert Lagash have lived in various regions and had various jobs. They haven't kept a job or a home for longer than 6 months since their return. Neither one of them have any family living. In fact for over two years now, they have not been heard from. I have been able to find no recorded evidence of them for the last two years."

"Is there reason to believe they are dead?"

"No sir. There were no hospital reports of them and their physical reports all say they are healthy with no disease or ailment known."

"So we need to find them."

"Yes sir. And I have an idea about that as well. Upon researching the groups who may be claiming that this yellow moss caused the destruction of Tae. I found one scientific article from 40 years ago written by Dr. Bartholomew Tharros claiming to have found evidence that what he termed Yellow Death Moss contributed to the flammability, poor air quality, and even famine that caused the evacuation of Tae. He never directly came out to say what was the evidence or where he got it. I didn't find any response to it or anyone that seemed to think he was correct in his assumptions. In fact there was no mention of it until about the time of the garbage collection project. They were not connected in anyway that I could find other than the timing. Then about 10 years ago a group was created called Yellow Fever. Their membership rolls are unavailable. Their meeting times and places are secret. The induction requirements are unknown. The only thing that we know is a few public statements made by Gerard Divici who claims to be their voice and nothing more."

"What has he said?"

"He hasn't said anything recently. The most recent statements I could find were from 3 years ago. At that time he claimed that this Yellow Death Moss was not only the destruction of Tae, but would also be the destruction of Geala. I have the full article as well as the other information I have found in this file." She said handing him the folder she had been carrying.

"Good work. I think the next step would be..."

"For me to sleep. I mean the interruption in the most respectful way possible. However in order to get all this information, I have not been home since about this time yesterday. So in order for me to function at my best, I need to go home and sleep for several hours. I'll be back after lunch ready to work."

Captain Jorns glared at her for a few seconds and then relented. He nodded his head and she was free to go. She went up to the roof and took off for home and her very comfortable bed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 2

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 1

As the sun rose high in the pale green sky, Sgt. Thrace awoke from her deep and restful summer. She slowly gathered herself and prepared to meet the day. She checked her phone and had a message from Jonathan.

Fi - I've got some results from the samples you dropped off yesterday. Stop by in the morning and we'll talk. I think we're on to something here.

She strapped on her weapon and her evidence tote. She locked the door and took off from her balcony. The morning was beautiful and calm. It was a good day for flying. She landed on the roof of the The Lab and headed down to Jonathan's office. As she walked in, he stood up from his desk and embraced her heartily.

"You have gotten some sleep. Splotchy isn't a good look for you."

"Thanks bro." She said rolling her eyes at her brother. "Now on to more important things. You said you found something for me."

Jonathan focused on business and led her into his lab area. "You brought by two samples yesterday and I've tested them both. The yellow substance you found was fairly easy to identify. It is a type of moss. It is very common and tends to grow in small clusters."

"That doesn't sound like something to be burned away."

"Well, that is debatable. Many believe it is this that caused the destruction of our first planet.  The fault in the theory is that the destruction is so complete on that planet that we have trouble proving what we know to be true. We can't even find concrete evidence of cities and societies. I don't know how anyone could know for sure what caused the devastation. We know that something used to live there, but we don't know who or what. I don't see how we can find evidence of such a small thing."

"So we have a conspiracy theorist. Lovely. What's his angle?"

"Hard to say. He could be torching the places he finds this in a misguided effort to protect our planet. Or he could be torching them as a method of proving their danger. Or he could be torching them in an effort to eliminate them and the conspiracy surrounding them. I can't even guess what side he is on."

"And the gel?"

"I ran almost every test I could. The findings are here he said sliding her a file of information. We did run into 2 problems. First, the test I didn't run requires norol. In order to run that test, your captain will need to formally petition the Director of Testing to use it. You know we have a limited amount of norol left from our escape, so it is only used in extreme cases."

"Is the test needed? What could it reveal?"

"There were 3 separate substances that I could not identify in gel. The test I could not run would reveal if any of the unknown substances were from our first planet. Considering his focus on this moss, it is not unreasonable to believe some of his materials would relate to Tae as well."

"Is there a chance that we can run the test?"

"I have only heard of it being used once and that was 25 years ago on the Killer Candy case. So the chances are small and they get even smaller when you consider the second problem."

"Which is?"

"The sample disintegrated."

Thrace's eyes grew two sizes and face took on a particularly angry shade of purple. "It what?!"

Jonathan held up his hands in a position of surrender. "It isn't my fault. The tiny beads that were in the sample were full of nitrogen. They were a slow release capsule to ensure that any of the gel remaining would disintegrate after a period of time. You were lucky to get that sample. So even if you get permission to run the test, you have to find another sample to test."

Thrace sank to the ground feeling very defeated. She sat there quietly for several minutes. Jonathan knowing his sister very well said nothing and went about other business. After some thinking, she stood and left the room quietly. She walked down the stairs and out into the street. She needed to focus on this latest development and not the air space. Although the offices of the ECD were only a few blocks from The Lab, she took the long away around. An hour later she arrived at her office with a plan. Before she could enact her plan, she was called into the Captain's office.

"Sgt. Thrace, where are we on the Arbor Arsonist case. I heard there was some new evidence found yesterday."

"Yes. I just received the report from Dr. Thrace at The Lab." She continued to tell her superior all of the information that she had received in the last few hours.

"Then it seems we are back at the beginning."

"Not exactly, sir. I have been thinking and planning. I think we have a few new areas to explore. If the unidentified elements of the gel are connected to Tae, then we can eliminate several portions of the population. There are only a handful of people who have access to anything from Tae or the ability to go there and get more. Secondly, we know that he or she is focusing on this specific type of moss. That can help us identify the next possible target for the Arbor Arsonist. And if Dr. Thrace is correct that many believe this is the cause of the destruction of Tae, then we could begin looking at some of these groups who either espouse these ideas or those who seek to destroy these ideas. If we can gather a list of their members, then we can compare that to those who would have access to Tae and narrow down our list of suspects considerably."

Captain Jorns sat looking at her for several seconds. "Good work, Sgt. Thrace. I'll expect a report on this tomorrow."

"Tomorrow sir? I'm not sure I can prepare all of that information that quickly."

"I'm sure you can. I'll expect to see you at this time tomorrow."

"Yes, sir." Thrace said as she quietly exited the room. She went to her desk and began the long work of researching all of these leads.