• Book Review: ODIN

    Author: David Archer and Black Banner

    Rating: 2 stars

    Book Blurb:

    Nobody has ever heard of ODIN.

    ODIN is about as secret as a government agency can get.

    Because within ODIN there is General Operations, which speaks for itself; ODIN 5i, which deals with intelligence gathering, and then there is ODIN 1i which deals in operations so sensitive not even the CIA can touch them. All three are run with an iron first by The Chief, a giant with a gigantic IQ. His top agent is Alex Mason, hard and cool – he’s a law unto himself.

    But when an ODIN 5i agent based at the US Embassy in Manila, goes missing, and his encrypted laptop disappears with him, the whole ODIN structure is put in peril. Then the agents he was managing start to disappear one by one, and things start to look ugly.

    So Alex Mason is sent to Manila, and what he finds there is the growing shadow of Chinese imperialism threatening not only America’s presence in the Pacific, but the security of the whole Western World…

    This is a job for ODIN 1i

    And for Alex Mason.

    Goodness no. This was not for me. Too much stereotyping of the Asian culture. Cringe – worthy. Too much chest thumping – I am a man’s man!!! Watch me be a man and do manly things. I could barely get through this. And it was boring at the beginning? Nope. I gave it one star because I could read it, and one star because I finished it. That’s it.

    No I do not recommend, there has to be better thriller series out there.

    Next!

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  • Book Reviews: Only In Atlanta Series

    Author: Katie Bailey

    Rating: 4 Stars

    There is a time and place for light, fluffy and uncomplicated happy endings. In my life, this was definitely that time.

    These two books were great closed door romances. I hadn’t read from this particular sub genre before, unless it was a classic romance really, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed all the romance without all the uh…”details”. It works – so if you are hesitant, I encourage you to give it a try. Idealistic and charming and funny, these were the perfect feel good reads for a tough time.

    I highly recommend and I will be reading more of Katie Bailey when I need a pick me up.

    Recommend!

  • Book Review: The Woman In White: Part 1

    Author: Wilkie Collins

    Book Blurb:

    One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins‘ The Woman in White was a phenomenal bestseller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Dickens, Collins’s friend and mentor. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall readers today.

    The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.

    At 672 pages, this book is quite the tome. I am halfway through and about to pick it back up – but thought I would pop in to say what an amazing read this has been so far.

    Though a classic written in 1859, it’s very readable. It’s written in multiple POV, and I believe it is one of the first books to do so. The suspense is palpable and when you read this book you are completely immersed in the characters and their motivations. I will say you care about these characters in a way you may not have had the book been shorter, so I don’t mind the length.

    Halfway through and I can see this being one of my favorite books of all time.

    If you haven’t read this book, please do so. I regret not starting it earlier.

  • Life Update: 11/29/22

    I have not posted and will not be posting for a bit due to a sudden death in the family. I took a break a bit ago due to caretaking and our dear loved one, after gaining her independence back, took a sudden turn for the worse and passed away last week.

    I will be looking to get back to blogging some time in December.

    Till then, hug the ones you love, tell them you love them just one more time… and happy reading.

  • Nonfiction November DNF: Primates of Park Avenue

    Author: Wednesday Martin

    Book Blurb: When Wednesday Martin first arrives on New York City’s Upper East Side, she’s clueless about the right addresses, the right wardrobe, and the right schools, and she’s taken aback by the glamorous, sharp-elbowed mommies around her. She feels hazed and unwelcome until she begins to look at her new niche through the lens of her academic background in anthropology. As she analyzes the tribe’s mating and migration patterns, childrearing practices, fetish objects, physical adornment practices, magical purifying rituals, bonding rites, and odd realities like sex segregation, she finds it easier to fit in and even enjoy her new life. Then one day, Wednesday’s world is turned upside down, and she finds out there’s much more to the women who she’s secretly been calling Manhattan Geishas.

    I got over 50% with this book before I just couldn’t do it anymore. I listened to it on audio and the narrator did a fine job, no complaints there. When this first started, this memoir was entertaining in that it felt like you were being let in on a world you had no access to. I empathized with the author on the “otherness” she felt while trying to be accepted in this ‘group’. As she began to change and conform to this new …society, I empathized less and less with each passing chapter. It felt more like a repeat of high school mean- girl dynamics and frankly, I’m too old for it.

    When faced with similar real life situations, I often ask the question of myself and my friends, why are you fighting so hard to belong to a group that is like…that. In this case mean, shallow, miserable, and condescending…

    I lost the desire to continue with the story, regardless of whatever epiphany the author comes to.

    Next!

  • Nonfiction November Book Review: American Sherlock

    Author: Kate Winkler Dawson

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb: Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities–beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners, and hundreds upon hundreds of books–sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career. Known as the “American Sherlock Holmes,” Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America’s greatest–and first–forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence, and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.

    Heinrich was one of the nation’s first expert witnesses, working in a time when the turmoil of Prohibition led to sensationalized crime reporting and only a small, systematic study of evidence. However with his brilliance, and commanding presence in both the courtroom and at crime scenes, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence. His work, though not without its serious–some would say fatal–flaws, changed the course of American criminal investigation.

    Based on years of research and thousands of never-before-published primary source materials, American Sherlock captures the life of the man who pioneered the science our legal system now relies upon–as well as the limits of those techniques and the very human experts who wield them.

    This was an ok read.

    I did like how the different cases were broken down, explaining how Heinrich utilized new scientific methods to narrow down the suspects. These methods seem commonplace now, mentioned regularly on shows like Law and Order or CSI. Like anything new, it wasn’t a perfect science and sometimes he seemed to get it wrong. The use of real cases left you with that uneasy feeling, as real life is not as neatly tied up as fiction. Was Heinrich right? Did that guy really do it?

    I did like the backstory for Henrich – you came to find out what drove him and his own struggles with OCD, financial woes, and spoiled children. That gave a needed human element to a very focused and stubborn character.

    Recommend!

  • Book Review: A Long Way From Chicago

    Author: Richard Peck

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Book Blurb: Each summer Joey and his sister, Mary Alice two city slickers from Chicago visit Grandma Dowdel’s seemingly sleepy Illinois town. Soon enough, they find that it’s far from sleepy, and Grandma is far from your typical grandmother. From seeing their first corpse (and he isn’t resting easy) to helping Grandma trespass, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry all in one day, Joey and Mary Alice have nine summers they’ll never forget!

    I really enjoyed this Newberry Honor Book. Starting in 1929, it tells the story of two kids who spend each summer with their grandmother in Illinois. It’s full of quirky characters and happenings and lessons, good lessons about caring for others, interdependence, not judging others just to name a few. I really liked it. Great slice of life stories with heart and a dash of historical fiction. The stories were funny and had some twists I didn’t see coming!

    Definitely recommend!

  • Nonfiction November Book Review: Stolen Focus

    Author: Johann Hari

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Book Blurb: In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions—even abandoning his phone for three months—but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention—and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.
     
    We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.
     
    Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus—as individuals, and as a society—if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.

    This was a great read. Some of this was not surprising and had already been well explained in books such as How to Break Up With Your Phone and Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World – both of which I highly recommend.

    This book, however, takes it a step further. While those mainly focus on technology’s role in our inability to focus, this book covers that subject as well as how diet, lack of sleep and even the modern change in children’s upbringing affect our ability to focus. The science was fascinating. I flew through this book- it’s very accessible.

    The author does not offer easy solutions. I found Deep Work by Cal Newport to give more hopeful and workable suggestions on how to reclaim your personal focus. But as far as explaining the whys of our loss of focus, the urgency needed to get it back, and why it is so very important – this book nails the landing.

    Recommend!

  • Nonfiction November Book Review: The Now Habit

    Author: Neil Fiore, PhD

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb: Featuring a new introduction and a new section providing strategies to understand and deal with the role technology plays in procrastination today, THE NOW HABIT offers a comprehensive plan to help readers lower their stress and increase their time to enjoy guilt-free play. Dr. Fiore’s techniques will help any busy person start tasks sooner and accomplish them more quickly, without the anxiety brought on by the negative habits of procrastination and perfectionism.

    To kick off Nonfiction November reading, I started with this book about overcoming procrastination. Overall it was good, I found a lot of the same principles from this book in the cognitive behavioral therapy books I have read. There is an emphasis on getting to the root of why you procrastinate, tapping into ways to make procrastination less rewarding for you by scheduling your guilt free play in a non-negotiable way. I liked some of what was said.

    There are sections of Feeling Good by David Burns that explained things similarly. If pressed I would recommend Feeling Good, because it covers a lot of the points here as well as other issues such as self- esteem, anger, and approval addiction. But this wasn’t a bad read as a supplement.

  • Book Review: Murder on St. Mark’s Place

    Author: Victoria Thompson

    Series: A Gaslight Mystery #2

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Book Blurb:

    As a midwife in the turn-of-the-century tenements of New York City, Sarah Brandt has seen suffering and joy, birth and death — and even murder. And the crime-ridden streets of the teeming city offer little relief from either…

    Thinking she has been summoned by German immigrant Agnes Otto to usher a new life into the world, Sarah Brandt is greeted by the news of an untimely death instead. It seems that Agnes’s beautiful younger sister, Gerda, had fallen into the life of a “Charity Girl”. Caught up in the false glamour of the city’s nightlife, she would trade her company — and her favors — not for money, but for lavish gifts and an evening’s entertainment. And now she was dead, victim, no doubt, of one of her “gentlemen friends”.

    No one cares much about the fate of girls like Gerda; but Sarah does. And she vows to find her killer. To do so, she turns to Sergeant Frank Malloy. As the two pursue an investigation that leads from the bright lights of Coney Island to the stately homes of Fifth Avenue, they find that their shared passion for justice may cost them dearly…

    This was a good continuation of the series. I enjoyed getting to know our two main characters better. Sarah and Sergeant Malloy are beginning to grow on each other. Their relationship is well done, entertaining and one of the reasons I am continuing with this series.

    As with the first book, I liked the historical facts sprinkled in with the mystery. I learned quite a few things. I always appreciate when the author lives up to the “historical” aspect of a historical mystery. The mystery was a bit predictable, but an element of it had a good twist.

    Will definitely be continuing with this series.

    Recommend!