Sep 152015

I think I’m entering a dry spell! I’ve read a few good books lately (see below) and I have a few books on hold (that are a very long wait right now) but other than that I don’t have anything I’m really looking forward to reading right now. I need some ideas! Send them my way!

1) Five by Ursula Archer

I’m not sure how this book even got on my radar but I’m glad it did! It takes place in Austria. The main characters are police detectives Beatrice and Florin. A woman’s body is discovered and there’s a strange tattoo on her feet–letters and numbers. They discover it’s coordinates and one of their young assistants introduces them to the world of geocaching. The coordinates lead to a cache where they discover body parts from a second victim. Then the race begins to solve the murders and catch the killer before too many have to die. It was a REALLY clever story and the ending, or “whodunit”, was very creative and well done. It was a good book!


2) Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

In the last book the story left off with a terrible tragedy to Detective Jimmy Perez. I wasn’t sure how they were going to deal with it in this story but they did it well. Perez was grieving, living in his depression, but a murder on his island starts to bring him out of his funk. A new detective comes to town, Willow, and she’s good. She manages to pique Perez’s interest in the case and he begins to assist with small interviews and tasks and then he’s wrapped up in it. The story was pretty good and left me guessing until the very end.


3) The Lost World by Michael Crichton

I was 10 years old when I first read “Jurassic Park”. We were camping at Alta Lake in Washington, where I swam in the lake and spent hours wandering around the campground hiking trails. I also read the book three times–because I loved it so much and I also ran out of books to read, so just read Jurassic Park a few more times. :) For some reason, I couldn’t remember if I’d ever read The Lost World. I saw the movies. But couldn’t remember the book–so I got it at the library (and still couldn’t tell if I’d read it or not!).

It was a fast read, not quite as good as the original, but still exciting. I liked it better than the movie, of course. It was easy to follow and a real page turner and I found the science discussions around extinction and the dinosaurs on the island in the “lost world” fascinating.

4) The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I LOVED this book. So many feelings, so many tears. Happy and otherwise. It was such a good read and sadly, it was kind of a short book so you can read it in a day or two and then…the book is over. :(

There are two stories. The first is about Vivian (or Niamh) in the 1920’s. Her family comes to New York through Ellis Island from Ireland. Tragedy strikes and she’s suddenly an orphan. She’s put on a train with other orphans and the train goes from New York to the Midwest, stopping periodically in towns where random strangers pick and choose which orphans they want to adopt. Of course, a lot of them are picked to be basically slaves and housemaids, not as kids to be loved like family members. Vivian’s story is both poignant, horrible, tragic and happy. She’s placed with several different families before finally finding one that cherishes her.

The second story is modern times. Molly is a foster kid that is 17, about to age out of the system, and bouncing around foster families that are just doing it for the money. Molly and Vivian meet and their story intertwines.

The books is so good. I cared less about Molly’s story and wished it had focused entirely on Vivian, but it came together in the end and I didn’t mind it so much. Read this book!


5) The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Sherman McCoy works on Wall Street and is a “Master of the Universe”–except he’s kind of a despicable person. Cheating on his wife. Among other things. One horrible night, him and his mistress are involved in a hit-and-run in the Bronx and a good kid in the projects is injured, and may be dying. Larry Kramer is an assistant DA, also kind of a despicable person but trying to do a good job, gets the case. It’s New York in the mid 80’s, it’s racially and politically turbulent and a fascinating look back in time. Sherman’s world implodes and the story is about his fall. It was a good book, a bit dated, but still relevant in a lot of ways. In the end you kind of feel sorry for him!


6) Thin Air (Shetland #6) by Ann Cleeves

I think I am finally caught up on this series! BUMMER! Detective Jimmy Perez is back, and so is the new inspector, Willow, that was introduced in the last book. They team up again to investigate a disappearance and a murder. A group of posh friends travel from London to Shetland for a friend’s wedding. They stay in a house together and Eleanor spots a mysterious child dancing in the fog and thinks it might be Peerie Lizzie. 70 years ago Peerie Lizzie disappeared and her ghost has been haunting the island, except the myth evolved into almost a blessing–if a childless woman spotted Peerie Lizzie in the fog, she would suddenly be able to conceive a child. Eleanor recently suffered a late miscarriage and has been depressed–until she sees the ghost. The story continues when Eleanor disappears and then her body is found. Who killed her? And who is this “ghost” that her friends keep seeing? It was a really good story and I loved the main characters who returned!

So that’s what I’ve read lately. Read anything good lately? I need some recommendations!

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Aug 252015

I should have just started numbering these posts this way from the beginning! It would have been easier. But oh well, I’m starting now. :)

It’s been a busy summer and I’ve gone through a bit of a dry spell lately. I read some books that weren’t that great or just so-so. But here is a wrap up of a few that were worthy of sharing. If you want to follow my reviews on Goodreads, friend me!

1. Spillover by David Quammen 

Non-fiction science book! I do love science and I particularly love viruses and outbreak type books. I don’t know why, because I’m a huge germaphobe. You’d think it would freak me out too much to read stuff like this, but it doesn’t. I find it fascinating. The Hot Zone is a great book. Outbreak is one of my favorite movies. :) I heard about this book on a science podcast I listen to (Talk Nerdy) and got the book from the library right away!

This book is very well written and while it’s scientific, it’s not over your head hard to read. The subject? Zoonosis.

“Zoonosis is an animal infection transmissible to humans, There are more such diseases than you might expect. AIDS is one, Influenza is a whole category of others. [pg14]….When a pathogen leaps from some nonhuman animal into a person, and succeeds there in establishing itself as an infectious presence, sometimes causing illness or death, the result is a zoonosis. [pg 20]”

He goes on to give some examples of zoonosis: SARS, Ebola, Bubonic plague, bird flu, swine flu, monkeypox, Marburg virus, Lyme disease, West Nile fever, rabies, hantavirus, Lassa fever, anthrax, the list goes on and on.

Each chapter is a different story of an animal getting sick from something and passing it on to humans. The first chapter is about the Hendra Virus in Australia, which originated from flying foxes (what a great name for bats!) that moved to horses and the humans. There are several chapters on Ebola, one on Marburg and also AIDS.

The chapter on AIDS was particularly fascinating. It discussed some of the origins of it and how they think it moved into humans. They think the sooty mangabey monkey might be the original host. And boy is it a cute little guy–such a shame!


“The sooty mangabey is treated by local people as an annoying but edible sort of vermin. Sometimes also, if they’re not too hungry, they adopt an orphan juvenile as a pet. What brought the sooty mangabey to the attention of AIDS researchers was coincidence and an experiment on leprosy. [pg 400]” They did some research and “the unlucky three also developed simian AIDS. Suffering chronic diarrhea and weight loss, they wasted away and died. [pg 401]” They did a bunch of other tests on the sooty mangabey monkeys and “revealed that the virus was ‘endemic’ among them. Not just among captive sooty mangbeys but also in the wild. They were infected but healthy, which suggested that the virus had a long history in their kind.”

“‘A plausible interpretation of these data….is that in the past 30-40 years SIV from a West African sooty mangabey (or closely related species) successfully infected a human and evolved as HIV-2.’ It was official: HIV-2 is a zoonosis. But what about HIV-1? Where did the great killer come from? The logical inference was that HIV-1 must be zoonotic in origin also. But what animal was its resevoir? [pg 402]”

Overall the book was packed with information about a lot of different viruses. If you like science and this type of history, give it a try!

2. Dry Bones: A Walt Longmire Mystery Book 11 by Craig Johnson

So good! I LOVED the latest installment of this series. There was quite a big surprise in the book, I won’t give it away, but it came out of nowhere and was really well written. The main story was about a complete T-Rex skeleton discovered on Native land and the fight that follows on who owns the bones. There’s a murder, a mystery and as usual in these books there’s magic and adventure. One of my favorites of this series I think.


3. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen 

I’d give this book 3.5  out of 5 stars but because the ending was really exciting and really well done I’m rounding up to 4 stars. The story is about a new department in the police unit solving “special cases”–basically a cold case unit. The first case investigated is about a congresswoman who mysteriously disappeared 5 years ago.

I was on the fence for the first part of this book. It started a little slow but the biggest issue for me was the main character, Carl. He wasn’t likeable at all. He was kind of a giant ass and just didn’t come across well. Sure, he’s the jaded, burned-out cop clique with his demons but at least with Harry Hole (for example, another series from that area of the world) you liked Harry despite of his flaws. Not so much with Carl. I just never warmed up to him throughout the book.

I loved his assistant Assad. The story was unique and kind of crazy! (I don’t want to give away any spoilers.) Overall I liked the book and couldn’t put it down once the action ramped up.


4. Red Bones by Ann Cleaves

This is book #3 in the Shetland series and detective Jimmy Perez is back to investigate an “accidental death” on the island. Was it a drunk accident late in the night that shot the old woman? Or was it something else? This book brings back characters from the other two books but also introduces new characters. There’s also an archaeological dig going on on the property of the dead woman. Then there’s another suspicious death. The book was fast moving and I enjoyed the story. The ending was a bit sad but not disappointing.

5. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

I’ve read a few of the Temperance Brennan books but not in order and I decided to start from the beginning. This is book 1 in the series and it was quite a good read. If you watch “Bones” you know it’s based on these books. Another thing I’ve seen some of–a few episodes here and there but never from the beginning–and now I’m starting to watch Bones on Netflix from the beginning (thank you back injury, right?). I find it confusing because Bones is VERY loosely based on the books. So don’t fear spoilers if you want to read the books. The characters and story seem very different than the TV show.

This book was fast paced and I liked the main character a lot (honestly, a lot more than the tv version). The mystery was interesting with enough plot turns to keep the pages turning but not confusing. I will keep reading the series!

6. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

Loved loved loved this book! It’s another one in the Armand Gamache series. This time Armand and his wife are staying at a rustic lodge to celebrate their anniversary. Another family (rich) is staying there as well for a reunion and surprisingly some friends from Three Pines show up too. Everything is going along fine when suddenly there is a murder. It was a cozy whodunit and it reminded me a lot of the movie Clue. :) The mystery was so fascinating and I loved all the new characters. The ending was very satisfying and I was bummed when I finished the book!


7.  Blue Lightning (Shetland #4) by Ann Cleeves

Book 4 in the series. This time detective Jimmy Perez brings his fiance back to the Fair Isles to meet his family before their wedding. It’s a very remote island and of course there’s a murder he must solve! As the story unfolds you discover the murder victim was not a nice or good person, cheating on her husband with everyone…so who killed her? Then there’s another murder and Perez needs to figure out if they are connected. I don’t want to give away a spoiler but the ending is SHOCKING.

Pg 17 Thursday-book
Stay tuned for the next installment. I have a few books that I’m really excited to start reading soon!