Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Perish From The Earth - A Review

Perish From The Earth

Perish From The Earth Cover.jpg

Jonathan F. Putnam

A Review

Blending a great deal of history with a believable, though fictional, story, takes talent and skill. Jonathan F. Putnam had done just that.

My acquaintance with Lincoln began and ended with his Presidency. “Perish From The Earth” takes the reader back to an earlier time in Lincoln’s career when he served as a circuit riding lawyer in Illinois. We are introduced to his best friend and roommate from that era, Joshua Speed. Similarly, we are introduced to Lincoln’s co-workers, prosecutors, and judges. Others from that era that make an appearance also have their roots in the history along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The mid-19th-century river boat culture takes on a life of its own as the story develops. Wrapped in a mystery and a courtroom scene in the town of Alton, IL, worthy of a great 20th-century writer, the who, what, where, and why’s, that make this story engrossing, readable, and exciting.  

For any fan of Lincoln, for any fan of historical fiction, and for any fan of great courtroom drama, this book should quickly become a must read. The author hints that more may be coming - I do not want to wait, I want more now!
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Death In D Minor - A Review

Death In D Minor - Cover.jpg

A Review

Henery Press has another winner.

Gethsemane Brown is up to her ears in murder again - but this time it also involves art forgery (both textiles and oil paintings) and two gentle ghosts. She finds herself and her brother in law charged with murder and in the middle of a ring of forgers that has done its work on both sides of the Atlantic. And while processing crime clues, her landlord is about to sell her rented lighthouse for an obnoxious price to an obnoxious real estate baron. She will need help from her friendly ghost, Eamon, the original owner of the property where she now resides; except, the wrong ghost shows up.

I am not a believer in ghosts, but if I could enjoy Casper as a child, I can also enjoy Eamon and Daniel, the ghost of a 19th-century sea captain who knew the artist whose work was being forged. In fact, he blamed himself for her death. Throw in a couple of eccentric FBI agents, and members of the Irish Guards (i.e. police), and the author has an interesting tale that should capture the interest of a number of readers. Though this is the second book in a series, it can easily be read as a stand alone novel. I had reviewed the earlier book and did enjoy the further development of the characters in the author’s second book. Whether you have read the first book or not, Murder In D-Minor is fun reading.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Time To Stand - A Review

A Time To Stand

A Time To Stand-cover.jpg

Robert Whitlow

A Review

After a brief prelude involving field workers in the South in the years immediately following the civil war, the book opens with the robbery of a local convenience store. That robbery set a sequence of events in motion that would result in Officer Luke Nelson, a local, white, policeman being charged for assault of a local, and apparently innocent, black young man.

The officer's defense would fall into the in the hands of the very white and credentialed Theo Grayson, Esquire. At his side would stand Adisa Johnson, a relatively new attorney who had just won her first big case in the city of Atlanta. But Adisa’s credentials were less than stellar - she had been fired shortly after winning her case because of a less than outstanding interview with a local reporter. And she was black.

The story revolves around the motives and circumstances which drove Officer Nelson to shoot the young man. But at the same time, it explores the thoughts and feelings of those living in the deep South as black, white, rich, and poor, interact on a daily basis. Can the law, in the face of community challenges, remain neutral and focus on finding the truth in spite of the cultural preconceptions which lie within the small town of Campbellton?

As in the past, Whitlow writes a compelling story that will hold the reader’s interest from beginning to end. It will draw those interested in the practice of law, the cultural struggles of the South, and the personal struggles of men and women living in that environment. As is typical, Whitlow weaves the personal faith of the characters into the story - some with no faith, some with a growing faith, and some with strong faith challenged by the circumstances of this case. Whitlow does not tend to pick up characters and further develop their stories in future books (he has done this, but it is not his usual practice), but I would love to see how this particular set of characters continue to develop over time. We get a glimpse of life in Campbellton a year after the main story’s closure - I would like to see how these characters have challenged their community two to five to ten years into the future. Alas, that will probably take our own imagination.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls - A Review

Beneath Copper Falls


Colleen Coble

A Review

It is not often that I ask to review a book that I do not want to read, but having read two chapters of this book, I know that this book is not for me. Those two chapters contain three episodes of physical abuse.

Now, I normally enjoy a romantic thriller; I enjoy most episodes of Criminal Minds (most, not all). But I also have lived with my wife for almost a half century as we both have struggled with the repercussions of the physical abuse that she and her mom experienced during her childhood. This book starts out with a sufficiently dark tone that I am choosing to not read it.

The publisher offers a gotcha - the reader must review the book and rate it. So my one-star rating is the value of this book to me. I recognize that others will like it more than me, but given my history and that of my wife, this book is not something I can or want to read. Several years ago, as I began reviewing books on a regular basis, I tried to return a book to this publisher because I did not want to read it (I do not remember why). At that time, they allowed me to do so, but was told that writing a poor review was better than not writing one. So I offer this, my brief response, to this book.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Coding Projects in Python - A Review

Coding Projects in Python


Carol Vordermam
Craig Steele
Dr. Claire Quigley
Dr. Martin Goodfellow
Daniel McCafferty
Dr. Jon Woodcock

A Review

I was caught by surprise when this beginner's guide to Python was aimed at children, but focused on syntactical issues rather than problem-solving. The authors assume that the readers will have some experience in using a programming language as a problem-solving tool. There is very little time spent on developing algorithms that can solve problems.

The first couple of chapters review python syntax. The rest of the book focuses on illustrating code for eight apps or games - but with little detail on how the solutions were developed. Added value is provided with a set of appendixes that provide all the code developed in the book, a glossary, and an index to all the features of python covered in the book. Lots of color and illustrations would make the book attractive to a child wishing to learn to program.

If the reader has prior training in developing algorithms and translating them into a programming language, this book might be of service. However, that is not likely to be a child. This is my first concern with this book. The other is the inclusion of syntax errors within the coding examples in the text. I did not test all the code, but did find one error on page 19 of Chapter 1 where a sample piece of code has an unmatched parenthesis.

The lack of instruction in creating algorithms and the presence of error(s) requires the need for an instructor to walk the student through the various samples provided in the book.

The book would serve as an ancillary text for a python course. The index and sample code would serve as excellent samples for the beginning programmer learning python.  The book, however, is not suitable for teaching basic programming skills.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bible Story Coloring & Activity Book - A Review

Bible Story
Coloring & Activity


A Review

I eagerly awaited the arrival of my review copy of this book, but I was not sure what to expect. However, I found myself wonderfully surprised when I found this book in my mailbox this week. Rather than a 20+ page book of easy activities, I found an almost 400-page book of activities that would be satisfying to kids from pre-K through elementary school.

The activities range from simple coloring pages to various kinds of puzzles and combinations of both. About half of the activities are clearly tied to a Scripture passage, usually a chapter or two. Others are related to a nearby page and its scripture passage.  It should be noted, that almost all can be directly connected to a scripture passage, several of those do not have a direct reference to a scripture.

The back cover lists 10 different activities:

  • Word Searches
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Connect the Dots
  • Hidden Messages
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Secret Codes
  • Unscramble
  • Mazes
  • Find It
  • Matching
And as the cover says, “... and more”.  This collection of activities would be great on a road trip with kids, for a child to use while staying home when sick, as a boring summer day’s activities, etc. The book would serve as an excellent supplement to a morning Sunday School class or mid-week children’s activity time. Parents may want to consider the book as a stocking stuffer for Christmas.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fatal Forgeries - A Review

Fatal Forgeries

Fatal Forgeries Cover.jpg

Ritter Ames

A Review

Laura Beacham’s parents were art thieves. She was in the art recovery business. That at times put her at odds with much of the rest of her family - and those odds could be fatal. That theses sounded intriguing, but I was disappointed in its implementation.

The book is inviting as the characters travel throughout Europe, visiting or traveling near landmarks in London, Barcelona, and Paris. Similarly, the book introduced me to the world of art, particularly as created by Caravaggio, an Italian artist. These side trips did give value to the book and made the trip interesting as I used Google and Wikipedia to discover more of these unknown worlds.

The book, however, has one large problem - it does not offer a complete story. This reader felt as if he were set up, but that nothing was accomplished in its 300 pages. Paintings were not returned, parents were not found, thieves were not caught (though one murderer was).

I kept hoping for some conclusion of the story, but it never came. Like an afternoon soap opera (with far less romance), one can only hope the next book offers the satisfactory ending expects from an enjoyable book.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinion are mine alone.