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!

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“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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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Jul 212015
 

Here is the latest installment of books! As always, if you’ve read something lately that you love, let me know! I am always on the lookout for new titles.

1. A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back in Three Pines in book #2. This time, he’s there to investigate the murder of a very unliked woman who is mysteriously electrocuted in front of the whole town. But how did that happen and who did it?

All the characters from the first book are back in the second and I’m so glad. The curious little town is so quaint and the characters are so well-written it’s a joy to read, even if the books are about murderers!

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2. The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

This book was on my “must read” list even before it was published. I was so excited when it finally came available at the library. The premise intrigued me — Angus and Sarah have identical twin daughters, Lydia and Kirstie. After a tragic accident, Lydia dies and they slowly try to rebuild their lives after this horrible event. The family moves to a remote Scottish Island and suddenly Kirstie is telling them that they got it wrong that day–that she is Lydia and Kirstie was the twin that died that day.

What is a parent to do? The book is so incredibly creepy on many levels. Each family member is slowly unraveling and clearly going insane and I can see why that would happen. Sarah has been noticing strange things and even before her daughter confesses that the “wrong” twin died, she’s already wondering if they got it wrong.

Their dog is acting strangely–treating the surviving twin the way he always treated Lydia when she was alive. How do you explain that? Kirstie (who claims she’s Lydia) insists she sees her sister and talks to her. Is it a ghost? A hallucination brought on by grief the little girl can’t fathom or explain because she’s so young? Personality traits in Kirstie are now presenting themselves as Lydia. Favorite toys, behaviors, reading ability–everything points to the girl really being Lydia but how is that possible?

“‘Kirstie is here again,’ she says. ‘She’s in my room. I don’t want to see her anymore. Mummy, make her go away.’ I want nothing more than for Kirstie to go away. And maybe Lydia too. I am frightened of both of my daughters, the two ghosts in this house, the two ghosts in my head; The Ice Twins, melting, one into the other…’I don’t believe what Lydia says, Mummy. She says horrible things.[pg 288]”

The book was creepy and gut-wrenching at times. Mostly creepy. I highly recommend this. I read it in two days.

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3. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

I wanted to give this book 4 stars because I liked the characters and the story was different, but…the book could have been better.
What I liked: the story was different and interesting. Alice falls at the gym and hits her head, wakes up and finds that she’s lost the last 10 years of her life. She’s unaware that she has three kids, that she’s separated from her husband, and apparently a very different person at age 39 than she was at 29. Very interesting premise!

What I didn’t like: yet another book from this author where there are three women telling their story. The formula is tired and I’m over it. She needs to write differently. STOP! It’s annoying and I wasn’t as interested in the other story lines as I was with Alice. Also, for the first 30% of the book I was very impatient and irritated that we didn’t know why Alice didn’t have her memory. Maybe that was the point, but I didn’t like that part.

Despite all of this, I still enjoyed most of the book and I liked that there was almost this alternate universe going on–it kind of reminded me of the movie Sliding Doors.

4. World Without End by Ken Follett

Looking for a rip-roaring good time that takes place in medieval times? Complete with accusations of witchcraft, royal espionage, serfdom and the Black Plague. Then this book is for you. In all seriousness, this was a really good book. It’s long–1000+ pages–and sometimes a little slow, but overall it was a really good read. I loved the time period and the characters. It’s a book that spans a long period of time in the mid-1300’s and you follow the main characters as they try to survive in a difficult time.

It starts with Caris and Merthin as young kids, who are best friends and falling in love. The story follows them as they age and their careers “take off” and all the trials and tribulations they go through in England in 1340. Loved their story. Even Merthin’s brother, Ralph, the most evil person in the book you kind of like because his character is so well written and EVIL. Well done book!

5. Little Black Lies by SJ Bolton

I love this author! I discovered her last summer and read all her Lacy Flint books and loved them. This isn’t part of that series–new story, new characters and it’s really good. It takes place on the Falkland Islands. Sadly, I had never heard of them before this book and now I am absolutely fascinated and want to visit.

The main character is Catrin. She’s a diver and whale expert. The book is about young children who have been disappearing in the community and this brings up painful memories of the death of her two boys. The other main character is Rachel, the best friend who’s neglect lead to their death. Finally, Callum, Catrin’s on-again-off-again boyfriend. The story is told in such a unique way, from each person’s point of view, and the twists and turns were so unpredictable! The who-dunit was so well done! It had me guessing all the way to the last page. GOOD BOOK!

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6. Bones are Forever (Temperance Brennan #15) by Kathy Reichs

I’ve read a few of the books in this series over the years, somehow not in order. If it sounds familiar, I believe there is a TV show based on the characters (Bones). I plan on starting at the beginning of this series and re-reading the ones I have read.

Despite reading it out of order, it wasn’t necessary. I never felt lost or confused. If there was a main character I didn’t quite remember the author did a good job of giving the cliff notes reminders. I enjoyed this book a lot. The main character, Temperance, is a strong female lead character and the story had an interesting combination of science and mystery that never felt over my head or too dumbed down.

The story is about a mysterious woman who checks into an ER because of excessive bleeding, they realize she’d just given birth, but she disappears from the hospital before being treated. With some detective work they find her apartment and sadly, the corpse of a newborn baby. But that’s not it, they find two more mummified corpses in the apartment. Thus the search begins for this “horrible monster” that killed her babies…except, is that what really happened? No spoilers. But it was a good and very fast read.

7. Us by David Nicholls

This was a very charming, heart-warming book. Douglas is in his 50’s and his teenage son is about to graduate from high school when one night his wife says that she thinks the marriage has run it’s course. This was completely out of the blue for the middle-aged scientist who thought everything was going great. The three of them are also about to embark on a summer long European family trip to celebrate before their son goes off on his own journey.

They go on the trip anyways, the wife being cagey about when she was leaving him and why. He thinks this is his last chance to keep the family together. The story is told in little vignettes instead of chapters and the story of how he met his wife and their life together is intertwined with the current day struggles and their European adventure. It was a REALLY good book. I liked it a lot and read it in two days!

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