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Circle of Stones: Review

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When I first finished this book I thought to myself, “what a good book”. Yet, the more I really thought about the book, the more faults I found in the book.

This story follows Nik and Jennifer, along with a barrage of other characters who interact with the main characters or are in some way related to Nik and Jennifer’s story. While Nik, an extremely talented art student, is in Vancouver visiting his grandmother, a heavy drinker with Parkinson’s disease, he receives an urgent message from the love of his life, Jennifer. Nik is forced to cut his visit short and fly back to see Jennifer, but when he arrives home he finds Jennifer, a beautiful and talented dancer, missing leaving no trace of where she went. Thus begins the story of Nik, searching across Canada for the love of his life.

As the reader follows Nik and Jessica’s story, they meet a host of other characters, big and small. Each chapter is from a different characters perspective, whether it’s Nick’s grandmother or a misunderstood teenage artist. While I thought that the array of characters was really interesting and unique, I also found it very frustrating. It’s not often that authors choose to have the story of the main character told through the eyes of someone they met on the street or through brief glimpse and incomplete story lines, so I thought that was incredibly interesting. I loved being able to glimpse the actions of the main characters through the eyes of other, minor characters who would only portray their view for the chapter. The part that I found so incredibly frustrating about that style was that not enough closure within the minor characters’ stories. I would have liked to have read more about each minor characters story, or had less of their personal stories to begin with so that I was not left wanting more.

The main reason that I wanted more from each minor characters’ chapter was because Suzanne Andrew did such an amazing job of creating relatable characters. Many of the characters within the story are facing real life challenges that impact many real life people throughout the world and they react to the situations in ways that I would expect most people to act. I loved reading about the struggles the characters were facing and how they overcame or coped with those struggles.

This is one of those books that reads like a Hallmark movie, so Hallmark take note, this would make a fabulous movie for your channel. And please have it end the same way because (not giving anything away) the ending was lovely.

In the end, if the author writes another book that continues the stories of the minor characters, I will gladly pick it up and read it, but if the authors next books are similar in style to this one with no closure for the minor characters, I will be staying well away.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sting of the Drone: Review

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This book, while dealing with an important issue, is also a great, action-packed thriller. 

The plot of this book is really great. The story revolves around multiple sub-plots that all come together at the very end. This book kept me on the edge of my seat right up until the very end, waiting to see what would happen next.

This book deals with the issue of drones, although at times it is hard to tell whether the author is in support of drones or not.Sting of the Drone presents the issue from both sides, that of the people controlling the drones and that of the people living in the aftermath of drone attacks. This book, while not exactly changing my opinion on anything, definitely gave me something to think about and educated me better on the use of drones around the world.

The characters in this book were mediocre. While I don’t think the author set out to create outstanding characters, rather than inform the reader on an issue, I found myself not caring at all about the characters. While I did feel that the characters always seemed to act in a realistic manner (so props to the author on that one), I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters, making this book feel more like a nonfiction read than a fiction read.

The writing in this book was pretty good. I found that once I picked the book up, I had a hard time putting it down, which for me is the mark of a good author. The author does a good job of writing technical information in a manner that the reader can understand and keeping the information exciting and relevant.

The one thing that I didn’t like about this book was the formatting. Each chapter, usually, takes place in a different location with a different set of characters (although they are all connected). While it was stated at the beginning of each chapter where the chapter took place in, I found that I had to flip back a few pages to occasionally remind myself where the chapter took place in. It took me about half the book before I really got in the habit of paying close attention to where the chapter took place in.

In the end, I would say this is a pretty good book that brings to the light a touchy subject. This is definitely a good book to read if you’re looking for a fiction book that will still teach you something about a current issue.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Invention of Wings: Review

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The Invention of Wings is one of the best fiction books that I have read in a long time. In fact, I think it’s one of the best fiction books that I have ever read.

The story alternates perspectives between that of Handful, a slave, and that of Sarah, the slave-masters daughter. Along with the stories of those two girls, the reader also is exposed to stories of other slaves, stories of Sarah’s family, and stories of the abolitionist movement, all through the eyes of two women.

The story itself is fantastic. The Invention of Wings is a powerful story that gives a human element to the tales of slavery and the abolitionist movement. This is definitely one of the better books that I have ever read about slavery. While there isn’t much too much action within the plot of this book, what there is instead is real-life trials and challenges for the characters to face, regardless of whether they are held captive by slavery or just by their own mind.

The characters in this book were all exceptional. Handful, especially, was a remarkably dynamic character and I loved reading the chapters that were from her perspective. All of the characters seemed realistic and it was easy to imagine them as actual people. Their reactions to the situations they were faced with, while not always what I wanted them to do, were exactly what I would expect a normal person to do.

The characters also showed remarkable growth throughout the story. Growth in characters was always something that teachers talked about in school but I never understood or read an example of until I read this book. Each of the main characters in this book grew in some manner, whether it was just expanding on traits they already had or finally moving away from the traditional role, each character greatly moved forward.

The writing in this book was absolutely wonderful. The author does a fantastic job of writing descriptive phrases throughout the book. It was so easy to visualize what the characters were seeing and what they were talking about that I almost felt as if I were watching the story rather than reading it. Also, her tone of writing for each of the characters completely matched what I would expect the character to sound like if they were telling the story, making this book a true joy to read.

This is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a heartwarming book about friendship and strength through slavery. I would also recommend this book if you’re looking for a fantastic fiction read, this is definitely one of the standout books of the year.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.