Rewired is the story of how one doctor changed the ways amputated arms’ nerve ending are left to allow the amputee to actually feel the fingers of the prosthetic. It also shows what doctor’s feel when working with a patient.
Melissa is an animal lover. When her two dogs cornered a raccoon on her fence, she went out to encourage the raccoon to leave. The raccoon did but first bit her on one side of her right arm and then scratched the other side. At the small hospital in the Midwest near her home, her doctor, Dr. Seth, assured her that he could save her arm. After a series of medicines and surgeries, that proves to be impossible. Dr. Seth pilots a new type of surgery allowing Melissa to be able to feel her prosthetic’s fingers. She is the first in the world with this ability.
While Melissa’s story is fascinating, the best part is seeing the emotions of Dr. Seth as Melissa is going through weeks of painful surgeries. We think of doctors as omniscient. That they don’t have feelings. However, Dr. Seth has many feelings about how he has let his patient Melissa down. This is a very Christian book with Dr. Seth taking no credit personally for his innovative surgery but instead attributing all of his contribution to God.
Rewired is recommended as an inspirational story of how one physician overcame long odds to create a better prognosis for all arm amputees. 4 stars!
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Christian, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: amputees, Jan 8 2019, memoir
The author won the Edgar Award for best crime novel four years before the Belting Inheritance was published in 1965.
An orphan is brought to stay at Belting at twelve. There is the formidable Lady Wainwright, and her two adult sons, Stephen and Miles along with Stephen’s wife, Clarissa. Lady Wainwright is haunted by the wartime deaths of her two older (and favorite) sons, Hugh and David.
Flash forward six years to the orphan returning home from school before his scholarship in the fall. There is a man claiming to be David returned from a Russian gulag. As Lady Wainwright is contemplates changing her will, both Miles and Stephen try to prove the interloper a fraud to preserve their inheritance.
I enjoyed the many twists and turns of the plot in this slow moving tale. However, there is absolutely no way to guess the denouement because crucial information is kept from the reader until the slam bang ending.
While not for armchair detectives, the Belting Inheritance is a good post-Golden age British mystery. 3 stars.
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Jan 8 2019
Pleasurable cozy read set in the world of yoga, infertility, and homeless teens. Murder Likes It Hot is a good choice for a late night book reading session.
Kate owns her own business, Serenity Yoga. She and her newlywed husband Michael, who owns a pet store, are having infertility issues. They need money for ivf so Kate takes a part-time job at the teen center teaching yoga once a week to troubled, mostly homeless, teens. While there, she meets Rainbow, a young runaway, who comes to Kate’s house for help. Kate only allows her to stay if she gives her the gun that her stepfather alleged she stole from him. When she hears Michael insist on calling the police, she flees taking her gun. The next day, Kate looks for Rainbow at the teen center but instead finds the police investigating a staff member’s death from a gunshot wound in the chest. When a gun looking suspiciously like Rainbow’s is found behind the center’s dumpster, the police suspect Rainbow for the murder. Kate feels obligated to clear Rainbow’s name by solving the crime.
Murder Likes It Hot is an enjoyable evening cozy read. The characters all have clear motivations. Most seem like they would be good friends in real life. This is the sixth book in the Downward Dog Mystery series. However, this entry can be read as a stand-alone. I reviewed the previous book, Pre-meditated Murder, and rated it 3.5 stars. I liked it slightly better than this entry as this one doesn’t have the humor of the previous entry. Still it is recommended and rated 3 stars.
Thanks to Midnight Ink for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, Jan 8 2019
Doesn’t everyone want to be an Avid Indoorsman? Sitting on your couch watching Netflix or playing video games with no special wardrobe required. Sure beats sweating in out in a pickup basketball game in expensive gear. Or worse, hunting, fishing, or camping. If this appeals to you (or perhaps to you as a not-so-subtle gift for your spouse), then you need to buy the Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman.
Beginning with a 20-question test called the Indooreagram to determine how close you are to achieving Avid Indoorsman status, the book is genuinely hilarious. An example: If you were to encounter a bear, what would be your first inclination: A)Eat the bear alive; B)Run as fast as you can; C)Make yourself bigger to scare the bear away; D)Look for snacks to share with the bear to make friends with it; or E) Use the Scare Bears Away app on your iPhone. Another question’s best answer to what is your definition of exercise: E)Shopping for two hours on Amazon for a treadmill-no purchase required. Note I paraphased a bit. However, if you found those funny, then you will love the Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman. When I took the test, I had already achieved the Avid Indoorsman level even though I would never, ever go anywhere where bears live. I respect Yogi and BooBoo’s privacy.
The Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman is the perfect bathroom read. A little goes a long way so 5-10 minutes per day (and seriously if you spend more time in there, you should eat more fiber) is about right. 4 stars!
Thanks to Harvest House Publishers for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Christian, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: humor, Jan 8 2019
You awaken in a cold sweat with a fast-beating heart. Was that just a dream? It takes you several minutes to calm down. Still, the dream’s story continues to haunt you until the next feverish dream occurs. This is the feeling you will have after reading each story in the marvelous Mouthful of Birds.
Twenty surreal stories populate Mouthful of Birds. Translated from Spanish, they have the taste of another country’s mindset, while still being relatable to anyone human. The writing is luxurious as if each word was thoughtfully selected so kudos to the translator, Megan McDowell. The plots vary widely, which is good as that means there is something for all tastes here. The title story is about a young girl who must eat live birds to survive. It is left to the reader to surmise why. In The Test, a man is forced to kill a dog on a job interview.
The author, Samanta Schweblin, was a Man Booker finalist in 2017 for her short novel, Fever Dream. These stories are equally good. For those that like thought-provoking plots, Mouthful of Birds is a delight. 4 stars!
Thanks to Riverhead Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: Jan 8 2019
In the near future, the Coming Storm is not just the latest superstorm to hit the East Coast but also a reaction to the federal government’s over-the-top response to immigrants.
In 2023, the United States is fighting a war at home. Poor, mostly immigrant neighborhoods in New York City have been made into cages enforced with barbed wire fences and armed sentry towers run by the federal paramilitary group, FSU.
In the meantime, larger and larger storms have hit the city flooding it up to second stories and crushing iconic areas like the Coney Island boardwalk.
Concurrently, the government is running a secret project called Palindrome to modify soldiers’ DNA to make them supersoldiers. Using CRISPR, a real method discovered last year that can do exactly what is described in this book.
Jenna was a scientist on the project until she refused to use her technology to experiment on humans. The FSU knows there are traitors within the project and arrest all the scientists that worked on it for questioning. When Jenna escapes, the chase is on to find her.
The Coming Storm is non-stop action. There is very little down time for talking about plot. The plot itself is definitely “ripped from the headlines” containing an expansion of our current immigrant paranoia, global warming, and DNA manipulation using real science. However, I found the action rather exhausting. Pro-Trump readers will not like the obvious negative references to his wall policies that are constantly being beaten into the reader’s head. This plot would make a great action movie like First Blood, Transformers and even Alien vs Predator. If you like those type of movies, you will adore this book. From me, however, it gets 3 stars.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: DNA, immigration, Jan 8 2019
Jessica is an Anonymous Girl in a New York City. She works hard as a freelance makeup artist, while waiting for her big break into Broadway plays. She has had a bad experience with her last off-off-Broadway theater makeup position but hopes to move past it soon.
Working as a freelance makeup artist doesn’t pay much over what the clients tip her as her agency takes most of the fee. Jessica is perennially broke. When Jessica hears a client talking about a psychological experiment that pays $500 for a two-hour session, she sneaks into the session using her client’s name. How hard could a series of questions on ethics be? However, the questions seem to get very specific and very personal quickly. As Jessica opens up more and more, the therapist behind the survey, Dr. Shields, offers Jessica additional money to participate in studies in the real world. Her first is to seduce a married man in a hotel bar. As Jessica is increasing sucked into Dr. Shields’ web, she struggles to free herself.
The first two thirds of an Anonymous Girl had me reading at a breakneck speed just to see what would happen to poor Jessica. Then the plot made a few turns that just didn’t seem believable. Plus there were absolutely no redeeming characteristics in some of the characters. Toward the end, I even stopped sympathizing for Jessica. This book is great until it isn’t. However, I still give it 3 stars. I just wish the ending was better.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jan 8 2019
In Au Pair, twins Seraphine and Danny are born and the same day their mother throws herself off a cliff saying they took my baby. The twins have an older sibling, Danny, who was also a twin. His brother, Theo, fell off the cliff two years earlier.
Year later, their father is killed in a tragic accident. While going through his papers, Seraphine finds a photograph dated with her birthdate of both their parents, Edwin, but only one of the twins. When she asks Edwin if he remembers which twin is pictured, he doesn’t know but that his au pair, Laura, took the picture.
Seraphine decides to find Laura. However, when she eventually finds her, she won’t talk.
The Au Pair is a suspenseful thriller with a laid back southern gothic vibe. The reader is compelled to keep reading to find out what really happened on the day of Seraphine and Danny’s birth.
The style of alternating chapters of Seraphine’s current search for answers and Laura’s experiences in the month leading up to the births is a great way to ratchet up the tension. The conclusion is excellent too. Overall, the Au Pair is recommended for all thriller and romantic suspense fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to Berkley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: gothic, Jan 8 2019
First, there was Superman to help mankind. Then, Batman arrived to fight crime. Now, it’s The Janitor because everyone knows they’re Invisible but have access to everything. The Janitor, playing soon at your local multiplex starring Ben Affleck.
Paul decides not to reenlist as an Army Special Forces Military Intelligence Officer (aka spy) because he wants to return home to reconcile with his father. However, when he arrives his father is dead.
The police arrested his father’s business partner for fraud and manslaughter. However, crucial physical evidence is lost in the courthouse forcing a mistrial. The partner vanishes two days later. The detective on the case not so subtly tells Paul that if the evidence is found, the case will be retried.
Paul uses his spy craft to acquire a job as a janitor in the courthouse so he can find the evidence files. While working there, he hears various tales of woe and becomes a vigilante. He calls himself, The Janitor.
Okay, it sounds pretty campy. You can almost see the big red Pow! and Zonk! in your mind as you are reading Invisible. It begins completely differently with Paul’s last job for the Army. I would have preferred more of that story. However, the janitor story was entertaining. It seemed very cinematic. You do root for Paul though his side trips to fix everyone’s problem before resolving his own are distracting.
The author, Andrew Grant, is the younger brother of Lee Child. He has written two series, both are trilogies, so I expect to see a couple more books in The Janitor series too.
If you like superhero movies and thrillers, this novel will be perfect for you. If you like thrillers, Invisible is recommended as a breakneck read with a likeable lead. 4 stars!
Thanks to Ballantine Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jan 8 2019, Superheroes
A young girl’s body is found 30 years after her disappearance in She Lies in Wait.
Benners, Connor, Brett, JoJo, Coralie, Topaz and her younger sister Aurora go camping. One evening of drinking, drugs and sex later, Aurora is missing. Despite an intense searching effort, she remains an open cold case.
When Aurora’s body is found 30 years later buried on the very campsite where she disappeared, the police reopen the case. The friends all maintain that they saw nothing unusual the night Aurora disappeared but could they be covering for one another?
It is hard to imagine She Lies in Wait was written by a debut author. The rollercoaster plot had me guessing everyone but the victim was either the murderer or complicit in the crime. The police managing the case were equally clueless. Watching the police group wade through piles of data seemed much more realistic than in most police procedurals.
She Lies in Wait is an excellent British police procedural. It recommended to anyone who enjoys playing armchair detective. 4 stars!
Thanks to Random House for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jan 8 2019
The unnamed narrator of Looker is having a bad year. After years of unsucessful infertility treatments, her husband has left. Her job as adjunct professor has shrunk to only one poetry class. Despite having a PhD in Literature, she can’t find another job.
The professor falls into an increasing obsession with her famous actress neighbor. She envisions them becoming great friends despite never meeting her formerly. As her fixation grows, the professor watches the actress and her family through their uncovered windows day and night.
Marketing Looker as a thriller is a mistake. For the first half of the book, I kept waiting for a murder or something exciting to occur. It never did. Instead, I realized this a story of woman’s descent into delusion and insanity. Readers who like woman’s fiction will gobble this short novel up in one sitting. However, thriller readers will be bored silly. 3 stars.
Thanks to Scribner Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: Jan 8 2019, women fiction
For decades, performers have known they have made it big when they hear, It’s Showtime at the Apollo!
More than just about the Apollo Theater in Harlem, this fact-filled graphic novel tells the story of African-American music in NYC from the Harlem Renaissance after WWI through the present. All the greats from all the eras have played the Apollo—Lena Horne, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Gladys Knight, Nicholas Brothers, James Brown, the Jackson 5, Sammy David Jr., Funkadelic and L.L. Cool J.
There are some interesting little known facts. Who knew that February in the 1960s was reserved for the drag show, the Jewel Box Revue? Or about the bomb threat that forced the Revue’s closure? I also learned where the famed Tree of Hope stump came from and why it is lucky.
Most graphic novels do not have so much text. Showtime at the Apollo reads more like an illustrated history than a true graphic novel. Even when the pictures alone could tell the tale, there is a text box labeling what is depicted. The artwork is clear. It is easy to recognize the famous faces.
For anyone who is interested in musical history or the story of African-American entertainment in New York City, this is a fantastic choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Abrams ComicArts, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: history, Jan 8 2019, music
Whether you follow a keto or gluten-free diet, Keto in an Instant has spectacular recipes you will want to eat.
After a short introduction to the keto diet and the Instant Pot, the book has a multitude of recipes for breakfast, dinners, soups, stews, sides, salads, snacks, appetizers and desserts. Most of your momma’s comfort foods are here. Meatloaf, chili, carrot cake, and beef stew are just a few examples. Your favorite snacks like buffalo wings, poppers, and artichoke dip are also included. My personal favorite is the Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Flatbread that looks exactly like real bread but has only 135 calories and 2 net carbs per serving. The author suggests using the flatbread for pizza crust too.
Due to the low carb count in these recipes, none have more than 500 calories per serving with most less than 300. Most of the recipes take less than an hour to make and much of that time is when the Instant Pot is cooking by itself. There are full calorie, protein, net carb and fat counts for each recipe. For those people also avoiding dairy or soy, there are easy options to substitute ingredients. Best of all every recipe has a full-color picture to drool over.
Keto in an Instant is great for Instant Pot owners who are also keto, gluten-free or just want to eat healthier while losing some weight. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Alpha, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Cookbook, gluten-free, Jan 8 2019, keto