Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

"The small, fragile bone I held in my hand not only proved that a murder had been committed, it also told us how it happened. A rush of excitement surged through me. I liked to think of it as the wholesome satisfaction of a fruitful scientific inquiry. The truth was, though, it was more like a drug. Other people were hooked on cocaine or cigarettes or runner's high; I was addicted to forensic discovery."


Dr. Bill Brockton is one of those genuine characters that I instantly liked. He's a forensic anthropologist and head of the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and he's a bit of a bone geek. Death and decay are his life. He searches for the truth that's written on the bones of the dead, and he's very good at his job. (Though not as good at telling jokes.) He's also a character with a lot of depth and authenticity.

His latest case involves the corpse of a young woman found in a remote cave in the mountains of Appalachia. The secrets he uncovers about her life, and her death, "reopens old wounds and rekindles an old feud" that started decades ago. Carved in Bone is a compelling mystery, with good suspense and a lot of forensic science. (Some might not like the detailed explanations about Brockton's work and how he examines the bones of the dead, but I found all those science-y details fascinating.) And the pace really picks up towards the end. This turned out to be a 4-star read for me.  I'm really looking forward to checking out the next book in this series.

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 10, 2018

A few of my favorite Christmas-y things...

Favorite cartoon character from a Christmas special:

Max!


Favorite last-minute gift suggestions from John Atkinson:




Second favorite character from a Christmas special:

Snow Miser:  "He's Mr. White Christmas...He's Mr. Snow!"


Favorite rendition of a Christmas carol:





Third favorite character from a Christmas special:

The Abominable...who really needs no introduction!



Favorite Christmas chocolate:


Favorite childhood Christmas book:




Happy Reading...and All things Christmas!















Friday, December 7, 2018

The Dover Demon

As teens, Sam Brogna and three of his friends encountered the Dover Demon on a deserted country road--something they never talked about later, not even with each other. Was it a cryptid, an alien, or something else? Now, thirty years later, they're about to find out.


This book doesn't have the big in-your-face monsters like some of Hunter Shea's other novels (think They Rise and Megalodon in Paradise to name just a few), but I liked the subtler sense of horror and suspense in this one. And I loved the characters, especially Sam and his 17-year-old son, Nicky. They have such a great relationship, from working together in their comic book store to binge-watching horror movies. They were my favorite part. The non-stop action in the last half of the book is pretty good, too. But what the "Dover Demon" turned out to be in actuality wasn't very surprising or unexpected. And I have to say, I didn't love the ending. Not that it was unwarranted, it just wasn't very satisfying to me. But I can totally see why Shea ended it the way he did! (I'd be more specific, but I don't want to give anything away.) So, while this particular book will never be my favorite Hunter Shea novel, I do think it's a pretty fun and entertaining horror story. (If you like that kind of thing.)  😊

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Brr!

It's the perfect time of year for some chilling suspense. And, as luck would have it, the Top Ten Tuesday theme for this week is Wintry Reads.

(Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.)

So, here are ten chilling titles that will keep you in suspense this winter season:

1. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo


2. The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg


3. Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg


4. The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza
5. The Girl in the Ice by Lotte and Soren Hammer
















6. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell


7. Snow Angels by James Thompson


8. Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman


9. Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason


10. Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons



So, grab a cup of hot chocolate and a warm blanket and ... Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Classic British Mystery...

"Publicity was Miss Cordell's bugbear. Respectable publicity was bad enough.... but shameful publicity! A death mystery! This was terrible!

Four Freshman at Persephone College--Sally Watson, Daphne Loveridge, Gwyneth Pane and Nina Harson--are intent upon forming their own secret society when they spot a canoe floating past them on the Cherwell with a dead body lying inside. It's their college bursar, Myra Denning. Now Sally and her friends are intent on protecting their college and figuring out how and why Myra Denning died. Of course, the local police and Scotland Yard have their own ideas.
"Undergraduates, especially those in their first year, are not, of course, quite sane or quite adult."
A British Library Crime Classic, Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay was first published in 1935 and recently reprinted in 2016. And I'm glad it was because it's an entertaining mystery. The four amateur sleuths reminded me a little of Nancy Drew and her friends. And I liked the 1930s references and the college setting a lot. And it's funny, too. The actual police, though, do the bulk of the mystery solving ... with a little help from the four girls.

While Death on the Cherwell isn't quite as good as an Agatha Christie, this lighthearted mystery is a lot of fun. I, for one, would love to read Hay's other two detective novels, especially if they're as enjoyable as this one.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Fairy Tale

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy stories involving the Fae, so I don't often check out books where they play a large role. But when my niece recommended A Fairy Tale by Shanna Swendson I couldn't resist giving it a try. And I'm glad I did. It's very entertaining. The two main characters, Sophie and Emily, are both spunky and smart. It reads fast. And it's fun. I actually ended up liking it a lot. It begins with Emily getting abducted by the Fae; her sister, Sophie, knows she must once again enter their Realm in order to rescue her. But Sophie has another role to play in Faerie...one she doesn't even know about. Yet.

Here are a few snippets to give you a taste of this fairy tale:

"According to Sophie's fairy indoctrination, time did funny things in fairyland. Emily could spend what felt like months here and return to the real world at the moment she left it, or she could spend what felt like minutes, only to return to the real world and find that a century had passed. Needless to say, she preferred the former option. It would be less detrimental to her career."
"If they'd told her they'd make her the greatest dancer ever in exchange for her sister, Sophie would never have agreed to the bargain. But she'd assumed she'd be the one to pay the price. ...She should have known. In all the stories, it was someone else who was taken as payment for a favor--a first-born child, a beloved daughter, a lover, a sister. ...Then again, there was always a loophole, a way to redeem the one who'd been taken or to sidestep the bargain entirely. She just had to find the loophole."

And then there's my favorite Fae, Eamon, who likes books and chocolate chip cookies:
"His silver hair gave him a shimmering halo. Although his face looked young, his eyes were ancient. They were the color of the mercury in old thermometers, a quicksilver color that shifted with light and motion. They were the most bewitching eyes she'd ever seen, and she felt as if she could have stared into them for hours--until she reminded herself that mercury was poisonous."

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Wrapping up Nonfiction November...

Yesterday, I returned all the nonfiction books I checked out this month to the library; all except for The Wright Brothers by David McCullough which I'm currently halfway through. That one I renewed. As for the other books I checked out, I managed to read all but one:  The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya will just have to wait until next year. The seven books I did read this month were all very interesting, and I'm glad I read them, but I have to admit, towards the end I found myself developing a bit of nonfiction fatigue, and I'm really looking forward to diving into the stack of fiction and fantasy books sitting next to my bed.  But before I do that, here are a few brief thoughts on the last two nonfiction books I read...and on the one I'm still reading:


"Safe now, the crushing strain of the preceding days lifted from my shoulders, I cried for my lost companions, I cried because I was grateful to be alive, I cried because I felt terrible for having survived while others had died."

After reading this book, I found myself wondering why anyone would ever want to try climbing to the top of Mt. Everest. I mean, they call the last 4,000 feet of the climb "The Death Zone".  But people do. And sometimes they die. Like the twelve climbers who died in that fateful storm in May 1996. And even though I already knew the story, I still found Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air a vividly compelling and harrowing read. And one I won't soon forget. 4 stars.


Five facts you may or may not know about the Spanish Flu:
  1.  It came in three waves with the second wave in the fall of 1918 being the deadliest.
  2.  It didn't originate in Spain.
  3.  It infected one in three people on earth.
  4.  It was a global pandemic, affecting almost every country and continent. (The one big exception:  Antarctica.)
  5.  Scientists figure it killed upwards of 50-100 million people; in contrast, 17 million died in World War I.
   
Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney is both interesting and informative. I liked the mix of science and history throughout this book, as well as Spinney's conversational narrative style. Plus, the chapters are short, which is always a bonus.  3.5 stars.



"Gentlemen, I'm going to fly."
--Wilbur Wright


While I haven't quite finished this one--I'm on page 178 and have about 100 pages still to go--I'm quite liking it. Wilbur and Orville Wright, two of "the workingest boys" ever, are such fascinating figures; I love how David McCullough has made them come alive in this biography. What they accomplished through their own hard work and determination is truly amazing.  4.5 stars.



Happy Reading!


The other nonfiction books I read this month:
Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford
Live Long And... by William Shatner
I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot by Joseph Cummins
Valley Forge by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin