Tuesday, December 29, 2015


A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."


The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (audiobook) - Philip Pullman

"In writing about what has gone past, we help to shape what is to come. There are dark days approaching, turbulent times. If the way to the kingdom of God is to be opened, we who know must be prepared to make history the handmaid of posterity, and not its governor. What should have been is a better servant than what was."

This novel is a part of the Cannongate Myth series, which seeks to reimagine establish myths from a modern perspective. The quote above could easily be both the tale behind this book's narrative and the original story it aims to reimagine.

One For the Money (audiobook) - Janet Evanovich

This is the first Novel in a series. I think I will have to read at least one more before I make a final decision on the series.

Stephanie Plum is an inept bounty hunter who has backed into her profession because of unemployment and desperation. In the end she got her man, but I'm hoping she'll get better at her job.

But hey, what ever happens, I enjoyed Lori Petty as the narrator!

Life's Missing Instruction Manual (audiobook) - Joe Vitale

I'm not usually usually drawn to self-help books, but the title of this one intrigued me.


Although this book contained many helpful and uplifting quotes, they were then expanded upon in a way that was often simplistic and victim blaming.

Victim blaming makes me too angry to benefit from the nuggets of light.

Deja Dead (audiobook) - Kathy Reichs

This is the first of Ms Reichs' Temperance Brennan novels, and, wow, it contains a completely different characterization than the the TV show Bones. It's actually like reading a different series altogether.

I've just found a new series to munch on. Good pacing, believable plot, interesting & likable characters,  . . .

What more could you want?

An Appointment With Death (audiobook) - Agatha Christie

Occasionally I am pleasantly surprised to find that instead of simple narration, the audio book I'm beginning is actually a dramatization. This was one of those surprises.

The second surprise was exactly how much of the original story had been changed when PBS created its Hercule Poirot dramatization.

Both were good, but only tangentially the same story.

Does that count as two stories?

The Eagle Catcher (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

It isn't possible to write a believable story about Native Americans without the history of their victimization and the long term consequences being, at least tangentially, a part of the fabric of that story.

The plot of this novel was particularly salient, considering the American government recently gave away sacred tribal lands to a foreign government for drilling.

The plotting and solid writing in this novel made it worth the ride.

The Ghost Walker (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

How can a dead body just disappear? It's easier than you might think.

And Father O'malley fights to keep the entire Mission from disappearing.

The Hanging in the Hotel (audiobook) - Simon Brett

Have you ever been frustrated and irritated by the ending of a novel you read?

I can't tell you why I hated the ending without giving too much in the way of spoilers, but I hated it enough to abandon a series that I already considered marginal.

* Sigh *

The Dream Stalker (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

Is nuclear waste storage ever without mishap?

The Spirit Woman (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

The overarching theme in this novel is hard to miss: dysfunctional relationships and their repercussions.

Change is never easy, but it is inevitable.

The Thunder Keeper (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

I never thought of thunder as protective before, but I like the idea. It feels right.

Even in separate cities, Priest and Lawyer are drawn to the same cases.

The Shadow Dancer (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

Sometimes the past and present overlap, and the resulting image feeling just a little out of focus, off balance.

Killing Raven (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

New opportunities come with risks.

Wife of Moon (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

Sometimes the fight for justice leaves a bill too high to pay.

The Girl With the Braided Hair (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

The past is never really far away, and it doesn't take much to set it marauding through the present.

The Story Teller (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

Just because a story is old, doesn't mean it is untrue.

The Lost Bird (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

One of my biggest pet peeves in this life is people who insist that the past is behind us and we should just get over what ever it is that continues to cause us distress.

The Eye of the Wolf (audiobook) - Margaret Coel

As I read this one I was repeatedly reminded of the rush to judgement that exists in today's society.

The Clockwork Scarab (audiobook) - Colleen Gleason

I picked this novel up out of curiosity. It was staring the niece of Sherlock Holmes, after all.

It is my first steampunk novel and I found that rather cute. As certain contraptions were described I couldn't help but be reminded of Stephen King's The Tommyknockers, where simple things were rendered incredibly cumbersome by the use of batteries.

It had a lot of instances where the heroines, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker (Bram's sister), were rendered close to a swoon by the proximity of a male - not my cup of tea.

I haven't decided yet whether I will continue with the series.

Death du Jour (audiobook) - Kathy Reichs


It pays to be mindful of connections.

Break No Bones (audiobook) - Kathy Reichs

Change is hard. Endings are hard.

Cross Bones (audiobook) - Kathy Reichs

"The Torah, the Bible, the Koran. Each offers a recipe for spiritual contentment, for hope, for love, and for controlling basic human passions, and each claims to have gotten the recipe straight from God, but via a different messenger. They're all just trying to provide a formula for orderly, spiritual living, but somehow the message gets twisted, like cells in a body turning cancerous. Self-appointed spokesmen declare the boundaries of correct belief, outsiders are labled heretics, and the faithful are called upon to attack them. I don't think it was meant to be this way."

Good fiction, while offering us brief respite from the chaos of the world around us, cannot join us in turning our backs on that world. Instead, it gives us a lens through which we might better understand that world.

Bones To Ashes (audiobook) - Kathy Reichs

This time it's extremely personal for Doctor Brennan.

Bare Bones (audiobook) - Kathy Reichs

"Things are not always what they seem."

This quote sums up all the various plots and subplots in the novel.

On the Move (audiobook) - Oliver Sacks

Two for the Dough (audiobook) - Janet Exanovich

Wolves of the Calla (audiobook) - Stephen King

The battle with the wolves is over. I'm bruised and bloodied, but I survived.

The quest remains . . .

Oh. Wait! I only read the book.

No one ever just 'reads' the Dark Tower books.

On the Move (audiobook) - Oliver Sacks

I've read, and been enthralled by, nearly all of Dr. Sacks' books, but I never new anything about his life until now. He was a special person.

Time to do some rereading . . .

Two For the Dough (audiobook) - Janet Evanovich

Lori Petty's quirky voice as narrator certainly matches well with the voice that the author gives her main character.

This series falls between the hard core mysteries I love and the 'cozy mysteries' that help fill the void while my favorite authors are putzing around between publishings.

Song of Susanna (audiobook) - Stephen King

Twist I didn't see coming . . . No spoilers.

Needless to say, my interest has been reignighted and I'm looking forward to the last book in the series.

The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower VII (audiobook) - Stephen King

A lot of people didn't like the ending of the series, but it was really in keeping with the philosophy espoused throughout the books.

Remember . . . Ka is a wheel.

The last two books rekindled my enjoyment of the series (that I thought I lost somewhere on the beach with the lobstrosities).


The Twits (ebook) - Roald Dahl

Don't you just love books by authors who know how kids really think?

There is never any saccharine in a Roald Dahl book.

Devil Bones (ebook) - Kathy Reichs

We have a tendency to take things, and people, at face value, a dangerous habit.

Depraved Heart (ebook) - Patricia Cornwell

A seemingly invulnerable nemesis, undependable records, and family in peril make up the usual Cornwell plot arc.

Well written, if predictable.

The Crossing (ebook) - Michael Connelly

Yay! Harry Bosch is back, and bringing all his experience and expertise to bear even though he's out of the department - for the defense.

I'm still coming to grips with Bosch's steadfast defense of the department, even when he has experienced first hand the depth of corruption and malfeasance that it harbors.

It's strange to hear him referring to the defense side as evil, even as he watches the cruel damage the other side is heaping on the innocent.

The "department, right or wrong" thinking is something we are seeing in the real world today, and it's ugly.

The Promise (ebook) - Robert Crais

As always, Elvis & Joe deliver.

If I ever needed it, I would feel secure having them at my back.

One bright spot this time was Maggie, and Mr Crais did a wonderfully intuitive job of showing the experiences of a bomb/drug sniffing dog through her own eyes. My Petunia was captivated.

Brush Back (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"No," I said, "when you're struggling to survive, no one gets to label you a coward, not even yourself in your private thoughts."

As I read this novel I was reminded of two things. First, V. I. was one of the first strong, independent, intelligent woman detectives. And second, she's only gotten better with age.

(Even if she doesn't bounce back quite a fast as she used to.)

Bones In Her Pocket (ebook) - Kathy Reichs

This short story includes pleas for an end to puppy mills. In her notes after the story Ms Reichs includes many way we can all help.

The story itself, though short, was intriguing and held my attention.

Swamp Bones (ebook) - Kathy Reichs

Don't you just hate it when you end up working through your vacation because no one else can do the job as well as you?

Yeah. Me neither.

But I have to admit, Dr. Brennan does good work.

Bones On Ice (ebook) - Kathy Reichs

An interesting addition to the novella is an appeal for Nepali relief, specifically Nepali Sherpas and guides. She included links to several nonprofits, if you are inclined to help.

The story itself, because of the length, is necessarily more simple than her novels, but still entertaining.


Murder At the Monk's Table - Sister Carol Anne O'Marie

"He was set on being a detective inspector. As a lad he had watched hundreds of hours of detectives on the telly - Inspector Morse and that nice chap, Inspector Barnaby from Midsummer. Although they did seem to have an excessive amount of murders in Oxford and that little village, but that was England for you."

This is the last book in the Sister Mary Helen series. Sister died just a few years later of Parkinson's disease. They probably fit snugly into the 'cozy mysteries' category, but the writing was solid enough to feel like more than that, and I'm sorry I've come to the end of the series.

"May the Lord keep you in His hand
And never close His fist too tight."
- Irish blessing

I'll close this entry with two more quotes from the book, a blessing (above) and a piece of advice.

"There's so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us,
 that it little behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us."

Brain On Fire - Susannah Cahalan

This was an interesting memoir.

Left with little to no memory of the most harrowing experience of her life, Ms Cahalan was forced to piece it together through the memories of those around her.

It also documents the costs of misdiagnosis and goes well beyond her own story.

Her hope is that by taking her tale public she might help others.

Deadly Decisions - Kathy Reichs

Decisions we make continue to have ramifications, even decades later, and often in unexpected and regrettable ways.

Fatal Voyage - Kathy Reichs

Sometimes our actions set in to motion other actions, and the end result is far from anything we could have predicted.

Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs

Let me just say that pathologists and forensic anthropologists do an incredibly important job. And for those who repeatedly uncover the worst humanity has to offer, it must take a tremendous toll over time.

Monday Mourning - Kathy Reichs

"The beatings will continue until morale improves."

She's quoting a bumper sticker she sees while in near gridlock, but I'm beginning to think that this should be the motto on our money. What about you?

(Oh. The book was good, as usual.)

206 Bones - Kathy Reichs

"In 1993, in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled that a 'trial judge must ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence admitted is not only relevant, but reliable.'"

"Like the vast majority of my colleagues, I have sworn to a code of chivalry. The pledge: To protect the innocent from wrongful conviction; to help convict the guilty."

I am enjoying the Temperance Brennan series tremendously, and this entry did not disappoint.

Dr. Brennan does seem to take full advantage of her health insurance. I'm sure she's grateful for Canada's 'universal' system.

Spider Bones - Kathy Reichs

I needed a score card to keep track of who was who this time.

But it was worth the effort.

Flash and Bones - Kathy Reichs

Being a long time murder mystery junkie, I'm pretty good at teasing out at least the bare bones of the solution while reading a novel, but not this time.

I like when that happens. Well done, Ms Reichs.

Bones Are Forever - Kathy Reichs

I find myself worried that, because of all the concussions she has suffered, Dr. Brennan might end up with the same type of brain damage that so many NFL players are fighting.

This was another good read and I am sorry that I'll soon be caught up with the author and have to wait a year between novels.

Bones of the lost - Kathy Reichs

I have enjoyed this series immensely, and am sorry that I will soon be finished and have to wait a year between new novels.

If you could spare a few good thoughts for our intrepid Detective Andrew Ryan. He's been having a rough time of it for a while now.

Bones Never Lie - Kathy Reichs

Psychopathy: nature or nurture?

Dr. Brennan is drawn into a spate of child murders that bring back an old case.

I confess, I had a good idea about who the murderer was. But it was instinct on my part.

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