Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Beautiful Blue Death

by Charles Finch

First off - I love this cover and I'm not sure why.  Is it the colors?  Or the old fashion apothecary bottles?  Or is it because it makes good use of the 'rule of thirds?  It's probably all those mixed together because I can't pinpoint any one reason but I do find it very appealing.

A Beautiful Blue Death is the first of the Charles Lenox mystery series.  I love it when I actually start a series at the beginning.  The first part is a slow going as the stage is being set and the characters introduced.  I rather like Lenox, a Victorian gentleman who is also an amateur sleuth.  A dear lady-friend of his asks him to look into the death of a former domestic. Joining the story as an aid to Lenox is an alcoholic, washed up doctor.  At that point in the book I threw up my arms in despair as I realized this was merely a remake of Sherlock Holmes.  Add to the mix of characters a brother who works in the Parliament.  "Oh no," says I.  "This is really too much!"

I continued reading, however, and discovered that, although Lenox, the doctor, and the brother resemble the Sherlock characters, there were qualities in the characters that endeared them to me and I also grew interested in the plot.  As Lenox narrowed down the list of suspects and was convinced of the guilty party, that person turned up murdered.

I look forward to reading the next in this series and watching the character development and the relationships between the major characters.

Just checked and discovered there are already six books in this series.  I better get reading!  The covers continue to appeal to me so I am going to show them here as a reminder of the correct order.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The World of Poo

by Terry Pratchett

I have enjoyed reading several Pratchett novels but this little "fairytale for all ages" was not one of them.  Early on I thought first- or second-graders would giggle shamelessly if their teacher were to read this to them but closer to the end I realized they would be as bored as I was.

There were a lots of vocabulary words to talk about poo or going poo, such as doing one's business.  And I suppose there was even occasion for learning new things, such as hippos whirling their tail around so as to splatter the poo as far as they can to mark their territory.  This would be especially memorable if the children could watch a video in science showing such a thing.

That said, I would suggest not bothering with the book.  Talk to your husband, children, or grandchildren to learn what there is to know about poo.  It dawned on me as I wrote that last sentence that Pratchett is from England so maybe the husbands, children, and grandchildren over there don't talk about these things in polite company.  Thus, the need for this book.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Under This Roof

by Paul Brandus

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book that read more like a novel than a nonfiction.

Under This Roof's main character is the White House with leading characters being 21 presidents of the United States.  Brandus tells about the condition of and changes made to the White House over the last 200 plus years.  Also included are major events during those presidents's years in office.

I was not a good history student and I blame it on my history teachers.  I wonder if a really interesting teacher had primed my curiosity if I would have become an history teacher instead of a science teacher.   At this stage of my life I love history and can't seem to get enough.

I have had a few interesting conversations with my brother, who is an American History teacher.  I called him just the other day with questions that arose from reading this book.  One was about the Louisiana Purchase that occurred during Thomas Jefferson's presidency.  I was confused when Jefferson sent Lewis & Clark to explore this new territory.  I am familiar with the Lewis & Clark trial and knew they explored all the way to the coast of Washington but I thought the Louisiana Purchase dealt with Louisiana and a few states around Louisiana.  I did some exploring online and talking to my brother.

It wasn't long before I called him again asking why the British were burning the White House and what caused them to turn east again?  I knew there was a War of 1812 but I couldn't have told you who we were fighting.  I assumed the U.S. won.  He told me the winner is in question and also, reminded me of the Johnny Horton song, The Battle of New Orleans, that I listened to again.  Wow! I have so many loose history events bouncing around in my brain that need connecting!

As you can guess, this pattern continued throughout my reading of Under This Roof.   Lots of online searching to answer more questions and to settle a few conflicting ideas.  A fun, and interesting process.

Under This Roof is an overall glance at some major events in history and how they tie-in to the White House and the presidency.  Don't expect in depth explanations of events.  Do expect interesting tidbits about our presidents and their terms in office and what was happening to their residency.  Expect an interesting and compelling  read.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pop Goes the Weasel

by M.J. Arlidge

I very seldom stay up late to finish a novel, even a compelling mystery, but I did just that with this book.  I couldn't put off knowing who the killer was even after my "pep talk to self" that I could savor the mystery longer and when I woke up I would have that delicious reveal waiting for me.  Believe it or not, that little pep talk usually works.

This is book 2 in the Helen Grace series.  I can't wait to get my hands on book 1, Eeny Meeny.    Checking online I discovered there is a 3rd and 4th book, too.  Oh, yea!

Pop Goes the Weasel is a dark thriller.  Definitely not a cozy mystery. Arlidge drew me into the story within the first few pages and my interest level continued throughout the book.  The main characters are flawed and fleshed-out.  I look forward to getting to know more of Helen's history and I hope we get to meet up with Robert again in a later book.

In this book someone is killing men who appear to be upright citizens of the community but are hiding some dark secrets.  The killer send these mens hearts to their family or business.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Saving Sophie

by Ronald H. Balson

I picked this book up after reading half of an unsatisfying mystery and was immediately impressed with the writing and story.  There are complexities in the plot that provided interest and encouraged me to continue reading.  And I thought about the book when I wasn't reading.

Jack Sommers is grieving his wife's sudden death when his in-laws take him to court in a child custody suit.  Lies about Jack's character and his ability to care for Sophie are bantered about but eventually proven false and he is granted custody.  But several weeks later his wife's parents kidnap Sophie and take her to live with them in Hebron, Israel which is a West Bank Palestinian Settlement.

Things are looking bleak for Jack but they get worse.  He disappears from work on the day of a big business deal when $88 million dollars goes missing.

Artfully woven in to this plot is a subplot that deals with college basketball racketeering.

After reading a book like this I go online to search for other books by the author, in hopes there are more to be enjoyed.  Luckily, Balson has written a previous book, Once We Were Brothers, that also has a 4.5 rating.  Yay!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Corridors of the Night

by Anne Perry

I have been reading Perry's William and Hester Monk series from the beginning.  I love this series but I think this is my favorite.  Each book fleshes out the characters and their relationships which makes them seem like dear friends.  And it's always nice to check in and find out what's going on in their lives.

William is Commander of the Thames River Police, a job which is difficult at best but with the amnesia he suffered years ago, the job has some unusual stresses.  He is never sure what is relationship is with certain people that become involved in his cases - people that act like they have a history with Monk.

In this episode Hester is kidnapped because of her outstanding record as a nurse.  She is needed to care for 3 children who have also been kidnapped and her help is required to help save a wealthy, but arrogant man.  The man is dying from a blood disease and must have transfusions of blood that has been taken from the children.  Even though blood transfusions had been tried in the past they were never successful.

As a retired biology teacher I was interested in the antiquated machine and methods involved in the transfusions.  Questions of morality were raised as to the extent science or medicine can take to make progress.  At what cost does the advancement take?

This is the 21st book in this series but I think it would be just as enjoyable as a stand alone.  The feelings for the characters may not be quite as strong but they will develop quickly.  Hester and William Monk are very likable.  The historical aspects of the book are interesting as the book is set in Victorian England.

If I was to rate this book, which I am always hesitant to do, I'd give it a 4.75 out of 5. 

I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising