Monthly Archives: February 2017

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Notorious RBGLike or dislike her, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a woman who daily continues to defy stereotypes. She’s eighty-three-years-old and stands five foot and one inch.
No one questions her intelligence. This dynamo is a legendary force fighting for injustices to make our country a better place.

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As being a Supreme Court Justice, her diminutive size is completely opposed to her immense influence of society today. Ginsberg always has defined life with her rules. She excelled in school. Unfortunately, her mother died of cancer the day before she graduated high school. Attending Cornell in the early 1950s as a woman who married with a degree in government.

Candy Pink by Adela Turin: Author, Illustrator: Nella Bosnia and Translator: Martin Hyams

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Candy PinkImagine a herd of elephants. Visualize the multitude of sizes inside the mass of gray.

In this particular herd, all the females have skin the color of candy pink with exceptionally bright eyes. What an obvious way to distinguish girls from boys?

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Apparently, this color difference occurs from eating only anemones and peonies in an enclosed garden. Although not exactly nutritious, these plants are not obviously harmful. Everyone is so proud of this uniqueness; the females even add pink clothing and accessories to intensify their pinkish beauty.

All the girls are expected to stay within the confines of the garden. Why would they want to leave? Isn’t being pink and dressed in pink collar bibs, pink bows on their tails, and pink shoes a perfectly pink life?

Storm Front (A Virgil Flowers Novel) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Storm FrontVirgil Flowers, the Minnesota state special agent, is really wrapped up in this one. It starts with an archeologist from the U.S. who is working on a special dig in the Mediterranean coastal region. The region is famous as being a historic religious are that was frequented by Hebrews, Muslims, and many other groups around the time of Moses and other famous people of that time and era.

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The American guy (not from birth as his ancestry is deeply entwined in this area) decides when the group of archeologists discover a supposedly very famous stele or rock that perhaps he should take it back to the states for its monetary value. No the others don’t know his plans but find out about the adventure once he has fled the country with the rock. His plan is to auction it to the highest bidder and use the monies for providing for his wife who is institutionalized for dementia or Alzheimer’s. He knows that he is dying of cancer and is worried about how she can survive without him.

Wilde Lake: A Novel by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

Wilde LakeThe Brant family are like Royalty in Columbia, Maryland in the early 1970’s. Andrew Jackson Brant is a state attorney who became “famous” when he tried a murder case and won without the presence of a body. He is raising two children on his own in the newly formed town of Columbia on Wilde Lake. His son AJ was eight when his daughter Luisa (Lu) was born and seven days later his wife Adele died. He relies on his housekeeper, Teensy, to perform the role of mother and homemaker.

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AJ Brant is a shining light in his high school. When he was eighteen there was an accident on the night he graduated from high school. He escaped with a broken arm, but another man lost his life. Was he innocent or guilty? Did his father’s name save him and his friends from further inquiry?

We fast forward to 2015 and Lu Brant has just been elected the first female state’s attorney of Howard County Maryland. She has recently been widowed with twins to care for. Lu returns home to Wilde Lake in Columbia to live with her father and Teensy who help care for the twins while she works. Her first case as state attorney is a murder where a woman is beaten to death in her apartment and a homeless man is accused. There are few murders in Hamilton County and Lou is eager to show her worth and prosecute him.

A Cast of Vultures A Mystery (Sam Clair) by Judith Flanders

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

A Cast of VulturesA vacant house in Sam’s neighborhood burns in what is at first considered an act of arson. When a body, presumed to be the arsonist, is found inside, the emphasis of the investigation turns to an arson gone wrong. However, Sam, and pretty much everyone else in the neighborhood knows the supposedly vacant house was in fact inhabited by several squatters who were well known and well liked by the neighbors. So when the body is identified and the police realize the man was acquainted with the squatters, their investigation shifts to include a harder look at those people.

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In a second plot thread, Sam is asked by a friend to help her find out where her neighbor has gone. He seemingly disappeared without taking anything with him. When the friend suggests a way they could break into his apartment to look for any clues, Sam is hesitant knowing her boyfriend Jake, a police officer, is not going to be pleased if he finds out. But when she weighs out the pros and cons of helping, she realizes if the missing person was her neighbor she would absolutely break in tho the apartment. I liked that the author gave readers the chance to see Sam reason this action out rather than just rushing blindly into a situation that most probably will lead to trouble.

Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon’s Odyssey by Bud Shaw

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Last Night in the ORHow does someone become a transplant surgeon?

Bud Shaw became a physician because his father was a surgeon. When his mother died of lung cancer, Bud became the son of a single-parent who had difficulty balancing raising three children with the demands of surgery. Naturally, Bud graduated from college, then medical school. Becoming a surgeon is challenging and demanding as well as humbling. 1981, in Pittsburgh, a young doctor was introduced into the world of liver transplantation.

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Shaw’s first experience was in the transplant world was in Pittsburgh during 1981. Ironically, the patient was a liver transplant surgeon from Texas who suffered from a congenital liver disease. He had traveled to Pittsburgh to for the procedure by the most respected liver transplant surgeon of the time. The donor’s liver had just arrived from Virginia.

For Shaw, who had just graduated from the University of Utah as a surgery resident, he was an excited thirty-one-year-old thrilled with being allowed to train with this transplant team.

For a prospective world-class surgeon, this is the opportunity of his life.
His first day was already a disaster. He received a phone call while driving across the country. Apparently, he was expected in the operating room last week. So much for leaving messages with the head surgeon’s secretary. Two days later, Bud and his wife made it to Pittsburgh. As they moved into a new home, the refrigerator broke along with his car being vandalized. Strangely, the nurse on the team wanted him to sign a petition stating that transplants were unethical. With the six procedures in six months resulted in six deaths.
His first time on the team was disastrous with the surgeon completely humiliating him.

Elementary, She Read: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Elementary She ReadIn Elementary She Read, author Delany introduces quite and interesting set of characters along with a new twist on mysteries set in bookshops. While Gemma Doyle is the protagonist of this new series, the history behind the story begins when Gemma’s Great Uncle Arthur seized the opportunity to buy a building at the famous address of 222 Baker Street.- though this Baker Street is located in West London, Massachusetts rather than London, England. With such a well known address, it was a given that her mystery loving uncle would open a Sherlock Holmes bookstore. When he found a bookstore alone wouldn’t make it, he expanded to include any and all things pertaining to Sherlock Holmes. Along the way, the opportunity arose to open a tea shop, named appropriately Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, next door but connected by an internal door. That shop is run by Gemma’s good friend Jayne. That is the story behind the story.

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In a nutshell, the main plot of Elementary She Read is this. The store is swamped one afternoon by a traveling bridge group, and while tidying the store after the group has left, Gemma finds an old Strand magazine that is not part of the store’s inventory hidden among the other magazines. Curious as to how it came to be there, she thinks back over the people who had just left the store and remembers one lady who was carrying a plain white plastic shopping bag that did not appear to be part of the group. She searches the store, finds the bag the woman was carrying and in it found a clue as to where the woman might be staying. Puzzled as to why the woman left what could well be a valuable magazine in the store, she puts the magazine to her home safe and sets off to find the woman. From there the plot follows a familiar path of amateur sleuths. Gemma tries to do the right thing and ends up finding a dead body or two and lands in the middle of a police investigation as a prime suspect. Eager to clear her name she starts snooping around trying to solve the murder, as well as unravel the original mystery as to why the magazine was placed in her store. The plot is well done with plenty of twists to keep readers on their toes. When the solution was finally revealed, I have to say I had figured out that the guilty person was involved but had not worked out how or why. I felt like Delany played fair with the readers by giving them clues to follow yet making the puzzle complicated enough to keep us working at it.

Inherit the Bones: A Mystery (Detective Gemma Monroe Novels) by Emily Littlejohn

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Inherit the BonesDetective Gemma Monroe is six months pregnant and her boyfriend is in Alaska on business leaving her alone, uncomfortable and as it turns out, in the middle of one of the biggest cases to hit Cedar Valley, Colorado in a very long time. She is called to the scene of a brutal murder at the traveling circus, where a circus clown has literally had his throat ripped open. Before long, it becomes apparent that the victim is not who the circus thought he was and that he might have been killed because of secrets he knew about a forty year old unsolved murder in Cedar Valley. As Gemma investigates the clown’s murder, she is drawn deeper into the forty year old mystery of the disappearance of two boys. In an odd twist of fate, Gemma and her boyfriend were the people who found the long buried bodies of the boys just a few years ago.

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This is without a doubt, one of the most skillfully written books I have read in a long time. The writing is so good that the story flows smoothly along making the twists even more jarring. The plot takes several interesting turns during Gemma’s investigation making it a difficult book to put down.
As for characters, Gemma is fairly complete for the reader. I’m sure in future books we will learn more about her and her past, but readers are left feeling they “know” Gemma. The supporting characters were interesting and enough of their personality was given to let us see them as people.

Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Unlucky 13If you have not read James Patterson any of his Women’s Murder Club stories this would be a good start. Unlucky 13 is one of those so you do have the assortment of professional women who make up this club. Lindsay Boxer, a San Francisco detective, is somewhat the main lead in this one but as usual her fellow members play significant parts along the way.

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And as usual Patterson has more than one plot going on as he normally does. The main one here is probably where Lindsay and her partner are trying to find who is planting some type of edible capsule in hamburger meat. It starts when a couple is found dead in their car and the middle of their bodies have actually been blown apart. Tests show some type of high explosive that is set off by gastric juices. In this case it has been encapsulated in a very minute fashion and then planted in hamburger meat.

That’s Not Normal by Mar Pavon and Illustrator Laure du Fay

Reviewed by Teri Davis

That's Not NormalHave you ever been teased about something that you could not change? Do you have a big nose, red hair, large ears, or big feet? At some time in your life, you probably have been teased about some feature that distinguished you. It is a fine line between having a distinguished, unique gift or an embarrassment which you cannot easily or quickly change. Why can some people accept their physical differences as gifts while others see these attributes in humiliation?

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Elephant has an abnormally long trunk. Fortunately, he is friendly and helpful to all the animals. He uses it to help others and even himself. Whether using it to shower and blow dry his baby, helping Old Monkey to climb a tree, using it as a sling to rock Little Antelope to sleep, hanging Zebra’s stripes to drive, assisting ants in crossing the river, being a neck warmer for Giraffe, or drawing hearts in the sand, Elephant looks for ways to be a friend and using his natural ability to help others. “Only Hippopotamus made sure to remind everyone that elephant’s long nose…WASN’T NORMAL.”