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.

Don’t Breathe a Word: Review

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Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon is definitely one of the most engrossing and disturbing books that I have read in a long time. I was unable to put this book down until I had read every page, and when I was forced to take a break, the story haunted me- pulling me back into the pages. Don’t Breathe a Word combines horrible people and things that go bump in the night into a twisted story that will haunt the reader long after the story is over.

This book alternates perspectives between Lisa, a young girl who disappeared, 15 years ago and Pheobe, the girlfriend of Lisa’s sister, in the present day. The chapters from Lisa’s perspective gave the reader information on the actual events of the days leading up to Lisa’s disappearance and the chapter’s from Pheobe’s perspective revolve around Pheobe and Sam (Lisa’s brother) trying to figure out what actually happened to Lisa, as there are some strange occurrences that seem to imply that Lisa is still alive and back from “the world of fairies”.

The plot in this book keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, wondering what is going to happen next. The parallel story-lines of the past and present intermingle nicely, creating lots of tension to keep the reader turning the pages. The plot in this book also throws out tons of plot twists, especially at the end of the book, ones that the reader will definitely not be expecting.

The characters in this book are all fabulous. Each of the characters acts in a relatively realistic way and it’s easy to imagine the characters as real people. Most of the characters have had traumatic experiences in their lives so it is easy to justify all of their actions and it is easy to understand why the characters act the way they do. The fact that all of the main characters faced some sort of horror throughout their life makes this book that much more terrifying, from a real world perspective.

When I first began reading this book I was unsure about the writing style. The sentences were simple and not quite descriptive enough for my tastes, yet the story quickly sucked me in. Once I was glued to the story I found the writing to be polished and easy to read, definitely perfect for this type of book.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in a book that will haunt you long after you’ve finished the story or for anyone who is interested in books involving scary, mythological creatures and real world villains. I will definitely be reading more by this author.

Stolen World: Review

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I’m not a huge reptile fanatic (in fact, I stay far away from reptiles) so this was a fascinating look into an area I am not very familiar with.

The story of reptile smuggling is a fascinating one. The history of reptile smuggling goes way back, with no sign of slowing down. It was fascinating to read about the ways that the smuggling has advanced and regressed throughout the years and the way that the government tries to stop the smuggling. It was also interesting to get some of the information straight from the guys who were bringing the reptiles into the United States from other countries and hearing their perspectives on the trade.

The writing in this book was pleasant to read. Smith does a really good job of illustrating the events to the reader in a way that allows them to feel as if they were actually there. The author also does a really good job of describing the characters in the story in ways that allow the reader to visualize the characters and feel as if they actually know the character. The author also writes in a good, journalistic style that is easy and pleasing to read.

I would recommend this book for those interested in reptiles, conservation, or smuggling. This is definitely one of those books that is a quick and informative read that can be enjoyed by many.

Race Unmasked: Review

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A fascinating look into race and more specifically, the eugenics movement of the 1920’s and the idea of genetics behind racial differences. When I first started reading Race Unmasked I really struggled to get involved in the topic. The information seemed dull and the writing wasn’t pulling me into the book. Yet by about 30% of the way through the book, I found myself unable to put it down. 

There is a lot of really interesting information presented throughout this book. I have previous knowledge of a few things relating to eugenics, mainly what they teach in history class, but I really had no idea of the pure scope of the movement and how prominent scientists were reinforcing the movement with shifty research. Along with eugenics, I also learned a lot about the concept of race itself throughout that era. I had no idea how loose the definition and idea of race was within the scientific community and notable speakers during that time, and throughout history. By the time I finished Race Unmasked, I really felt that I had learned a lot about the concepts of race.

The writing in this book, while extremely academic, was relatively easy to read. The author relies heavily on quotes to bring the points across, which could be a challenge to read for some. I personally liked the heavy reliance on quotes. It really gave me an idea of exactly the scope of the information in the words of those who were for the eugenics movement and those who were against it. The authors comments in between each quote aided in connecting the information and making the book flow smoothly from piece to piece.

I would highly recommend this book to those interested in race studies and the eugenics movement. While I don’t think this book is for everyone, for someone with an interest in the topic this book is a great read.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Seven Modern Plagues: Review

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I don’t read very many books about sickness, so when a new one comes on the market I’m quick to grab it up and read it. Seven Modern Plagues is definitely one of the better books I’ve read about sickness in recent years and one that I will definitely be purchasing for myself when it is published.

Seven Modern Plagues focuses on seven major issues that have been afflicting the modern world, such as Salmonella, Lyme Disease, and West Nile Virus, amongst others. This book offers a comprehensive overview of each of the “modern plagues”, the ways in which humans have caused them and what we can do, if anything, to prevent ourselves from forming other, similar plagues. 

The information in this book is solid and really taught me a lot about the plagues and how we have caused them. I had never actually considered the possibility that certain serious health concerns could be caused by the actions of humans in such things as deforestation. This book will definitely make me look at any new plagues with a critical eye, wondering whether the actions of humans were responsible for the outbreak. Along with containing unique information, this book also contains strong scientific information. The author does a fantastic job of citing scientific studies and health information. I definitely appreciate it when nonfiction books contain strong scientific facts to back up the points being made in the book.

The author in this book is a clear and concise writer. Walters does a wonderful job of getting the point across in an easy to understand way. The author definitely understands how to write in a way that can be understood by a wide variety of people, regardless of their previous knowledge of the information. The author also does a good job of telling stories throughout the book. The way the author gave personal stories of the people who were impacted by the diseases definitely aided in driving the points in the book home. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in books about sickness, especially the ways that sickness is caused by human actions. I would also recommend this book to just a general reader, this is an important book to read so that we can (hopefully) stop anymore plagues before the infect us.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

The Secret World of Oil: Review

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The Secret World of Oil provides a comprehensive look into the lesser talked about aspects of a corrupt, global oil industry. Even if you follow current events relating to oil, this book will give you information on aspects of the industry you likely have heard hardly anything about.

This book was fascinating. I had no idea that the oil industry was so corrupt and that it was just a fact of life that the corruption occurs, no one is really set to stop it. I also learned a lot about the environmental aspects of the oil industry, which was fascinating. I know the basics of how oil drilling can hurt the environment but I never really understood the specifics. This book gave me all the specifics, as well as detailing other information about the tensions surrounding the environment and oil companies that really portrayed the environmental issues in a stronger light.

The format of this book was very easy to follow. Each chapter revolves around a specific topic, from the fixers to the environment, and each chapter flows smoothly into the next. Each chapter was also comprehensive, with small subtopics of information for the reader to understand the bigger picture of the issue in the chapter. This book is easy to follow and understand, for even the most novice non-fiction reader.

Silverstein writes in a style that is informative, yet still easy and pleasurable to read. The author writes in a smooth style that flows along the pages nicely. He also does a fantastic job of painting a picture in the readers head of the things that he saw while out researching the information and interviewing officials for the book. 

I would definitely recommend this book to all whom are interested in learning more about the oil industry, especially the corrupt side. I would also recommend this book to those who are interested in books about the environment. Oil is a huge part of our everyday lives and thus has a big impact on the environment, this book does a fantastic job of illustrating the issues the oil industry brings to the environment.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.