Watersheds of World History: Review

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I set out to read Watersheds of World History very enthusiastically, but have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the overall book. While I still enjoyed reading the book, I was left wanting more.

John L. Taylor starts out by introducing the reader to the Fertile Crescent and the start of civilization. The story then continues all the way up through the Second World War, touching on the most important world events throughout history. Honestly, this book is a good overview of things of historical importance, but I was left wanting more.

The author states in the preface that: “There are no footnotes in this book, no maps, no references, no images, and no dates to memorize. The text is simply a clear summary of basic information available to everyone in hardcover and internet encyclopedias.”… Now, I can see how some readers might enjoy that aspect of this book as world history reads just like a story, but as an avid nonfiction reader I found that style of book to be unfit for my tastes. I was uncomfortable reading a book without any references, footnotes, or maps and because the majority of information in this book was information I already knew, I didn’t find myself wanting/needing to look up any further details.

On the back of the book the author states “to be enjoyed by everyone but especially by those who have little or no background in world history”, which definitely is a demographic I would recommend this book to. Watersheds of World Historyis a literally just a summary of basic world history information, talked about briefly and simply. I would definitely say that this book will not be appreciated as greatly by those with a solid background in world history, although they might be able to appreciate the storytelling aspects.

Alright, enough with the information bashing and onto the author’s writing itself. I found that Taylor did a really nice job of conveying information to the reader in an easy to understand manner. He does a good job of portraying the information in a logical format and one that would be easy to follow for readers of many ages and backgrounds. The information in this book does read just like a story, allowing the information to be absorbed by the reader without them having to focus on learning all of the facts.

The other point that I feel I should note is the formatting of this book. Some of the paragraphs in this book were bolded while others were just normal text. I found myself confused as to what the bolding of certain paragraphs was for, as I couldn’t find any noticeable pattern between the bolded paragraphs. Maybe that was just a fluke with my review copy though.

Although I found myself disappointed with the amount and quality of information in this book, it wasn’t altogether a bad book to read. I would have been happier reading this book before I’d read monstrous accounts of world history as this would be the perfect introduction book to get people interested in world history. I would recommend this book to younger audiences or those that haven’t read much about world history.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sorrow Bound: Review

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While Sorrow Bound by David Mark is the third book in a series, it certainly proves itself as a standalone book. This story had me hooked right from the get-go, with palpable characters, frantic plot, and marvelous storytelling.

The story follows Detective Aector McAvoy as he discovers the slain bodies of some young women. Originally attributing the killings to drug dealers, the police department quickly changes their minds as more details of the killings (and more killings) shed new light on the case. McAvoy sets out to stop the killer, all the while dealing with his own problems at home.

The characters in this book are absolutely tangible. I felt as if I was living right there with them, throughout the pages of the book. The love and loyalty that the characters expressed for each other was easily identifiable throughout the story. I felt as if the characters were all real people, people that I knew in real life. Throughout the story I enjoyed reading more about the lives of the characters because of how real they felt.

The plot of Sorrow Bound was fantastic. Fast moving and deep, the plot carried me away like a swift river, not letting me go until the final pages. There are plenty of plot twists throughout the book and many parts that will leave you guessing, glued to the pages until you find out what happened. This book definitely contains a masterfully woven plot.

Mark certainly understands how to write a good police procedural or thriller. There wasn’t a part of the story where I was confused or unsure as to what was going on as Mark smoothly conveyed information to the reader in a clear manner. I will definitely be looking for more works written by David Mark.

I would highly recommend this book for those looking for a good police procedural or thriller. I wouldn’t go with this book if you’re squeamish about dark and depressing topics, although it’s a highly good read.

Priorities

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Sorry for the radio silence folks. I have been (and will continue to be) taking a break from reading/reviewing to focus on schoolwork. I will hopefully resume reviewing around August 1 but will then be taking another break around September.

Thank you for your ongoing support and I look forward to catching up on reviews once I’m done with schoolwork.

-Jennifer

The Lazarus Curse: Review

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A fantastic mystery set in London that masterfully blends natural science, the cruelties of slavery, and voodoo into a heart pounding adventure that will leave the reader chilled to the bone.

The Lazarus Curse follows Dr. Thomas Silkstone as he finds himself smack in the middle of a deadly adventure when he asked to catalogue the specimens brought back by an ill fated expedition to the new world. When an important journal disappears and the only remaining member of the expedition party is murdered, Silkstone is thrown into a mystery that will expose him to the cruelties of slavery and the cruelties of people that spans the world.

This story is one that will haunt the reader long after the pages have finished turning. Exposing the reader to not only the cruelties of slavery in England, but to the wickedness of the human being, The Lazarus Curse is a book that will have the reader turning away from the story in horror and eagerly awaiting more in equal parts.

This is the first book that I have read by Tessa Harris and I have to say that I really enjoyed her style of writing. She writes in a manner that is descriptive, without being overly so. Her descriptions of London and the horrors that befell the characters were vivid and easily pictured, yet it was easy to imagine all of the extra pieces without her having to explicitly state what everything looked like exactly. Harris also writes passages of immense action in a smooth and easily followed manner. At no point during the story was I at a loss as to what was going on, the author definitely understands how to paint a clear picture with her words.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in fascinating stories that masterfully blend the world of natural science with that of slavery and voodoo. The Lazarus Curse is a fast paced story that will not disappoint.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

The City: Review

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I was a little apprehensive when I first began reading this book. I’d read quite a few Koontz books prior to reading The City and the start of this book just didn’t feel like a typical Koontz story. After I got about a third of the way through the book however, that feeling changed greatly. The intrigue picked up and I found myself sucked into the story and the characters.

This story centers around a man, Jonah Kirk, as he recants some strange goings on that happened in his childhood. Johan Kirk’s childhood was tumultuous to say the least. Although able to find escape in piano and music, Kirk dealt with a disappointing father and rather sinister mystery involving some pretty shady people. Although at the beginning of the story I found myself wondering when the mystery and excitement would pick up, it quickly does, carrying the reader along on a journey through a few scary years in the life of a young boy.

The characters in this book are all dazzling. Even when I wasn’t able to relate to the characters (which didn’t happen often), I still found myself lapping up the descriptions of their everyday lives. All of the characters were realistic and spellbinding, reminding me of those people you encounter in everyday life that just seem magical for some reason.

The writing in this book wasn’t exactly typical Koontz writing style, but that doesn’t mean that the writing wasn’t enjoyable to read. The writing in this book seemed so much deeper and more elaborate than a typical Koontz novel, which just added to the spellbinding element of the story. I definitely enjoyed reading the writing in this book.

I would highly recommend this book for those interested in reading books featuring bewitching characters and a marvelous storyline. While it’s important to go into this expecting something a little different than the typical Koontz novel, this book still delivers a marvelous read that can be enjoyed by many.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Twelve Minutes to Midnight: Review

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The title and cover of this book caught my eye while cruising through the library today. While I normally don’t read children’s books, this one certainly caught my eye and I’m glad that I read it.

The plot of Twelve Minutes to Midnight is rather original. A young girl, Penelope, is a writer but she must keep it a secret as the story takes place during a day and age when female authors were rather uncommon and frowned upon. Not only is Penny a writer (and publisher), she also gets caught up in a mysterious investigation involving inmates of an asylum who are writing mysterious phrases at 12 minutes to midnight. Penny sets out to solve the mystery, with the help of a few of her friends.

While the storyline seems relatively predictable at first, I can guarantee you that there will still be some plot twists and that you will realize by the end, that the author thought the story out way more than seems apparent at the beginning. I definitely enjoyed this thriller for kids as it wasn’t too intense and scary, yet it still held some good intrigue and edge-of-your-seat moments.

Edge writes in a style that meshes nicely with this type of story. He writes in a manner that is suspenseful, without being too scary or intimidating. His writing is also easy to read and understand. Another aspect that I liked about his writing style is that he doesn’t hesitate to use a few words that kids might not be as familiar with, yet it was easy to tell within the context what the words meant.

I would definitely recommend this book to those with kids ages 9+ who are looking for a good mystery, especially one that is set in the past, yet still relates to the future. After reading this book, I might just have to check out the next book in the series.

Inside The Criminal Mind: Review

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Inside the Criminal Mind provides a fascinating and insightful look into the inner workings of the criminal. This book touches on the mentalities that apply in a general way to all criminals and then explains in more depth in relation to each criminal type (whether it’s burglars or pedophiles).

Samenow’s main point is that the criminal has a “criminal personality” which has been present to the relations of the criminal since they were young. Thus, one can potentially identify criminals as youths or can justify finding a criminal guilty (even if they plead temporary insanity) by using their past history to demonstrate that they have a criminal personality. This book does a fantastic job of explaining and using examples to demonstrate exactly what classifies as a criminal mind. Samenow illustrates, using quotes from criminals and those with a criminal mind, exactly what goes on in the minds of most criminals and how they feel about things.

While it’s obvious that the author stands behind his idea of a criminal personality, he recognizes that it doesn’t apply to all cases. Near the end of the book Samenow recognizes that there are actually people who commit crimes of insanity, who didn’t really have control over their actions due to their mental state. He points out that although that can happen, it’s extremely uncommon and is usually very easy to tell whether the person was actually in control of their actions. I appreciated that the author recognized other types of criminals, versus just focusing on those with a criminal personality, because there are always exceptions to the rule which needs to be recognized.

Samenow writes in a style that is very pleasurable to read. He writes in a manner that, while academic sounding, is still easy to follow and understand. There wasn’t a moment in this book where I was confused as to the point that the author was trying to get across as he is very clear in his message and intent. Samenow also brings examples of the criminal personality to life through actual stories and quotes from the criminals, bringing the message home to the reader.

I would recommend this book for those interested in psychology or understanding the criminal mind. This is a highly informative book that really makes me think about what shapes the criminal.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.