Thursday, January 31, 2013

Live Second by Doug Bender

I was looking for a new yearly devotional and was happy to find this new one.  It didn’t take long, however, to decide this wasn’t the one for me.  This seems to be an attempt to be a new and modern devotional, and it may very well be attractive to the under 25 age group. 

The first assignment of the week is to go to a website and watch a video.  For this review, I decided to try a couple of random videos.  The first two links took me to “page not found”.   The third was an odd lecture on a sensitive topic and a testimony.   I tried another and this one was rather long, but in the end was a beautiful testimony of God performing a miracle.  The backdrop for the videos is a single white chair in the middle of a room with a spotlight overhead. It reminded me of the old movies when someone was being interrogated by detectives.  There is also quite a bit of bouncing camera shifts for artistic value.

I was taught to put God first. This modern version is put self second. In the attempt to put self second, you bring the vision of self forward, and to me seems self defeating.

The e-book presentation has a QR code by each weekly entry which really seemed to be there just to prove how new and youth oriented it is.  I believe the movement is sincere. However, links to the website and the constant requests to tweet your thoughts using the website hashtag appears to be an attempt to get everyone to advertise the website which just happens to have books, materials and t-shirts for sale.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski

The Death Relic starts out strong in this archaeological mystery. Dr. Maria Pelati is invited to Cancun to discuss employment working for an archaeologist studying Mayan civilization, Terrance Hamilton. It is out of her expertise, but she is curious and decides to at least meet with Mr. Hamilton.  At their initial meeting, he steps out to retrieve some information and disappears.

The book is compelling as it introduces us to Maria, Hamilton, and her friends, Payne and Jones.  This is a “buddy” type story with Jonathan Payne and David Jones, long time friends. The information about the Mayan people and civilization was interesting, and the description of the area was done well.

Unfortunately, there were a few things that kept this from being a 5-star book for me.  First the crude language added nothing to the personalities of the characters and left me thinking they weren't as smart or sophisticated as they were supposed to be.  As the book progressed, the bantering between the two friends started to wear thin. It was like listening to the dialog of 14 year old boys, not adult men. Another distraction for me was the repeated references to a previous case and the relationships between the characters in some previous story.  If you have read his previous books, you may enjoy this one, but I came to a point where I just didn't care how it ended.

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Rally 'Round the Corpse by Hy Conrad

This would have to be my dream vacation.  Travel around Europe with a guided tour and collecting clues while trying to solve a crime. In Hy Conrad’s new book a real mystery develops during one of Amy Murano’s agency tours. Before the tour is over the writer of the mystery tour is found dead 

There is a little of everything in Rally ‘Round the Corpse with a real mystery, a light romance, and travel.  There was a good balance of dialog and narration, which is always an important factor for me. The writing is good with plenty of lighthearted banter.    The characters are a good variety of personalities and they are well defined. 

I also read his previous book, Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know, so I had a feeling I would be in for a delightful mystery experience with this book.

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eating Right in a Nutshell by Susan Whittaker

This is another e-book I picked up for my Kindle, but I was surprised by some of the content. Care must be taken when reading a book that makes health claims by someone who is not a healthcare professional. Although the book does have a disclaimer that it is for "educational purposes" and "not to be considered medical advice", the author makes several claims about diseases that simply are not true. There is also an encouragement to perform a regular home health care procedure that could prove to be dangerous.

I was especially interested in reading the Growing Your Own Herbs and Sprouts section, but that turned out to be 4 or 5 paragraphs about her failed attempts and then her on-going attempt to grow sprouts. There was not real information on the proper growth and care of herbal plants.

The author mentions  things she has seen on TV that she has tried for "gut flora" and a type of food fermentation, but no real instructions or additional information. I understand the author's own struggles with health made her want to help others, and we all want to eat right and be health, but do a little research before following someone else's experience and non-professional advice.

Link to purchase Eating Right in a Nutshell

Home Made Cookies Recipes for Beginners by Ravi Kishore

This book has a nice selection of recipes and they are definitely not just for beginners. The book is divided by cookie ingredient type with several recipes for each. There are several peanut butter, several oatmeal, several chocolate chip, etc. There are even fortune cookies recipes. Also included are recipes suitable for children and easy recipes using cake mixes. I found quite a few I'd like to try, but I think the recipes I want to try first are Red Velvet Butter Cookies, Fresh Toffee Apple Cookies, and the Homemade Fresh Lemon cookies.

Link to purchase Home Made Cookies Recipes for beginners

I provide a link to to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dinner at Deadman's by C. J. West

Picker, junker, hoarder, whatever they call them these days, Lorado Martin’s hobby is collectibles and antiques. When someone dies, he arranges for the estate sales, adds to his own collection, and makes a little money off of the sales. He makes his living building and maintaining homes for recovering addicts. He also employs some of these same addicts and helps them with their fight to stay clean. The death of an elderly woman from one of his sales haunts him, especially when he finds a note hidden in one of her belongings – with his name on it. 

Dinner at Deadman’s is an intriguing mystery that unfolds slowly to introduce each character and their role in the story. I appreciated the fact that although these characters were working to improve their community, they were also realistic people with major flaws. 

There were several things I really liked about this book. The mystery takes several rabbit trails as Lorado misinterprets events that take place. The author details the physical and psychological permanent damage from drugs that has take place in these recovering addicts. I also found interesting Lorado’s mixed feelings in helping these broken people, but also seeing them as takers in society compared to his father’s work ethic. That part of the book really stood out to me.

I did have two issues that were difficult for me. First, all of the women in the book are pretty much defined by their breast size. Then there was the beginning of the book. It was not a pleasant start. The overly descriptive bodily function was difficult to get through, but if you can get through that first chapter, you will find a satisfying mystery with interesting characters.

Link to purchase Dinner at Deadman's

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Concrete Kiss by David Grace

Detective Ned Danes is in a bind. He can keep quiet and an innocent man will go to jail or report misplaced information to the DA, make an enemy, and lose his job.  Fortunately, he has an old friend, FBI Agent Phil Abbot, who can help him out.  The bond that develops between these two men is an "I've got your back" friendship.

I liked the character of Ned Danes, and his work with cold cases drew me right in to the story.  I was a little disappointed when Ned fell into the background and Phil Abbot's story came to the front, but was pleased as the story progressed and the two of them teamed up again.

The character of Phil is an FBI agent who has adopted an autistic child with a tragic past.  She is able to communicate through her computer and uses her hacking talents to find a killer.  During Phil’s investigation a situation arises in which he now needs Ned’s help.  The back and forth with these two characters was a major theme of the book.  Just when I thought the story was wrapping up, Ned stumbles upon the answer to another cold case.   

Although I had a problem believing that FBI Agent Phil would allow his child to be involved with some of the illegal hacking, I still think The Concrete Kiss is another great book by David Grace.

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Real Ghost Stories from the South by Kevin Bozard

This is a fun quick read with short stories from the state of South Carolina. There are some ghostly stories, some urban legends, and some just odd occurrences. I enjoy these local stories which, although mirror stories from other locations, always adapt to the atmosphere from which they are being told.  I found this little book while browsing for books for my Kindle. I also picked up the followup More Ghost Stories from the South by the same author, but I haven't read it yet.

Link for Real Ghost Stories from the South

I provide a link to to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Hard Act to Follow by Henry Bushkin

A  Hard Act to Follow," is a non-fiction literary account of Henry Bushkin's tenure as Johnny Carson's lawyer, business partner, and friend. The book gives genuine insight into the 'Carson behind Johnny' with candid personal vignettes about the two, during the rollicking years when Johnny was the undisputed king of television. This is an engaging, eye-opening, anecdote-packed story about a young lawyer and his client, one of the biggest celebrities in the country. This funny, unfiltered account gives readers a look at the Johnny Carson that none but a select few really knew.  -Goodreads

Johnny Carson was king of the nighttime talk comedy show. Although several have tried, no comedian has replace that night time-slot in the same way that Johnny did so well. From his childhood disappointments to his multiple marriage problems, Mr. Bushkin's brings to light the private side of Carson's life.  It is an honest telling of his life and trials, but not a particularly flattering portrait of the man.  It is difficult to identify with the out of control lifestyle that high profile stars lead, and Johnny certainly battled his demons.  Even more surprising  is that a lawyer would spend his life running interference and cleaning up the messes left behind.

Language and adult situations alert for this book

I received an electronic copy of this book in return for my honest opinion of the book

For more information about the book see A Hard Act to Follow

Isle of Shadows by T.L. Higley

Tessa is a courtesan or high class prostitute longing for freedom. When her master dies, she uses his misfortune to create a new life for herself.

T.L. Higley is a very good writer, but this book didn't hold my attention.  The one thing I missed in his book was the sense of location. As I read another of her books, Petra: City of Stone, I was there at that location and could see, smell, and feel the locality. I also couldn't identify with the main characters.  

Well written, but not the type of book that draws me in, and a disappointment.

I received an electronic version of this book through the "bookSneeze" program.
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