Wednesday, September 4, 2019

It's A Numberful World - A Review

I picked up the book expecting to find an assortment of number and mathematical based trivia. Though not entirely wrong, the book is more scholarly than the typical trivia book. The book is not full of equations but is aimed much more at the visual learner - filled with illustrations and graphs. Each chapter tackles a specific topic of interest in mathematics and illustrates its place in our natural world.  For example, Chapter 7 is entitled “What Sunflowers Know About the Universe”. In the course of 20 pages the author takes the reader through a study of symmetry, into a discussion of the golden ratio, and concludes by saying:

A BRIEF NOTE: It’s not really that sunflowers are intelligent beings who worked out the equations to come to this conclusion -- but simply that any ancestral sunflowers that didn’t use the golden ratio produced fewer seeds per flower, and were therefore weeded out by the process of natural selection. But the fact that this natural algorithm should arrive at a mathematical truth like this is almost as beautiful as the fact that human beings calculated it through their ingenuity and insight!

The author, an Australian public school teacher, has been named Australia’s “Teacher of the Year” and identified as one of the top ten teachers of the world. In 2018, he was named “Australia’s Local Hero of the Year”.  This book serves as great evidence for the validity of those honors. More information about the author can be found on Wikipedia and with a Google search. As a Christian, I found the dedication of interest:

Dedicated to the Author of Life
“Mathematics is the language with
which God has written the universe.”
—Galileo Galilei

Though mathematical, it is not a difficult read - and will be enjoyed by many.  Whether a mathematician, a physicist, a general lover of knowledge, this book has a place on your bookshelf or bed stand. The junior high and high school library will want a copy on their shelves. This is also true of the liberal arts college library. It is less likely to be found on the shelves of the university library, but perhaps on the coffee table in the math department’s lounge. 
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Justice and Revenge are not the same things - a lesson that would be difficult to learn and to live out for FBI Special Agent Allison Radcliffe. She would come face to face with people who had killed her family 15 years ago, she would also see the brother she thought she had lost in the same events and whom she thought dead. The tears would flow. But in the middle of all the pain and confusion, her faith would grow in unexpected ways.

Lynette Eas
on has written a faith-based thriller that would compete well with the likes of NCIS:LA or Criminal Minds if found on TV. The plot is solid with just enough turns to keep the reader wanting more. And if the hint embedded at the end of the book is any clue, more is to come.

Unlike her earlier book, Code of Valor, the book does not focus on a cultural issue, but on more personal issues that many face, Maybe not as intense as Allie’s, but just as real. The book would be a welcome addition to the church library - either as part of the set of four books in the series or as an independent purchase. It would also serve as a welcome addition to the public library willing to include faith-based books in its collection. Any reader enjoying well-written thrillers would find the book a good weekend’s worth of reading.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Murder on the Chopping Block - A Review

Penelope Sutherland has been given an unexpected contract to provide the culinary service for Pope Productions in Southern California, though her home territory was New Jersey. Her enjoyment of the new environment was quickly jolted by the death of the current show’s star, Sebastian Beauregard. Everyone knew who shot him, it was not so clear who had placed the fully loaded prop gun into his hand before he pulled the trigger.

Penelope and Joey, her boyfriend and New Jersey homicide detective, found themselves in the midst of a double murder that was shaking up the small community of Salacia Beach, CA, where filming was taking place. The victim’s families and the co-stars were the primary suspects. Penelope would find her life on the line before the guilty party would be revealed.

Though the seventh book in Simmon’s Red Carpet Catering Mystery Series, it was only the second that I have read. Having missed several earlier parts of the story did not in any way distract from this reader’s enjoyment of this book. This would be true for the average reader, though I would hope a library would consider adding the entire series to their collection (either as hard copies or as e-books). The book provided a relaxing 8-hour read, enjoyable whether a food-connoisseur or a fast-food junkie.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Poker Chips and Poison - A Review

Poker Chips
and Poison 

by Rodney Strong

It begins as a friendly poker game (is there such a thing?) but ends with Betty’s death. The Silvermoon Retirement Village takes it in stride — after all, Betty was in her eighties. Except for Alice — who quickly becomes convinced her death was murder.

And when she does, she is faced with three major questions: why would someone murder Betty, who would murder Betty, and how did they do it? Because the police would not believe her, she has only one aide in her endeavor, Vanessa, a member of the Silvermoon staff.

The result is a cozy mystery reader’s cozy mystery. Working with a senior adult community as I wear my other hat, it was easy to attach some faces to members of the Silvermoon community. And as we meet the members of that community, we meet the various suspects that Alice and Vanessa must consider and eliminate. Except for ______________ (for that, you will need to read the book).

The book is a gentle read and will bring a smile to many. And the people are fun to follow — whether on-point or slightly forgetful. The book will fit well into the public library. Though focusing on a group of senior citizens, the book will likely be enjoyed by those of every age and background. My only concerns were several grammatical errors found in the first 20% of the book (more than I typically see in a book sent for review) — ironically, there were none past that point. In a private e-mail, the author assured me that these would be taken care of during the final round of editing.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the author for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Fire Storm - A Review

Fire Storm is the second book in a series featuring Kaely Quinn, trained as a profiler, but because of her irregular methods is currently serving as a special agent out of the St. Louis, MO, office of the FBI. Though there are many who question her methods, her supervisor, SAC Solomon Slattery, has grown to appreciate the skill and talent she brings to her work with the FBI.

Though the relationship she has with her mother is not great, Kaely Quinn still wants to make the effort to travel to Darkwater, Nebraska, before her mother’s health deteriorates. She has been granted time off and as the story begins, we find her on the road to her mother’s home.

Stopping at a small diner to eat before going home, Kaely picks up a local paper and is intrigued by the front-page story that describes a series of fires that have hit homes in Darkwater. The local fire chief attributes the fires to misused space heaters. Kaely’s intuition tells her something more sinister is going on.

During the course of the plot, we watch the faith of three characters being challenged as they and the local police and fire departments seek to identify the arsonist that is attacking families in the Darkwater community. Jason, Kaely’s brother and most solidified in his faith is not immune to the pain around him. Kaely’s faith is growing but finds it challenged as she faces her mother and the arsonist. Noah, Kaely’s FBI colleague and partner (and boyfriend?), is the youngest believer in the group and is watching the others as they respond to their faith.

The book will easily find a home in the church or public library. Its intensity matches that of criminal minds and fits naturally after Nancy Mehl’s earlier Mind Games.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Bound For Murder - A Review

Bound For Murder

Victoria Gilbert

The small town of Taylorsford, VA, had its share of shady characters. Many arose from the small commune that had its origin and downfall during the ’60s on a farm located on the outskirts of town. This was of course escalated by the drug culture that was part of commune life. But now some of those shady characters were grown up and running for public office. Some were returning to visit friends. And there were those who were returning for murder.

Much of the story focuses on the town library and its librarian, Amy Webber, and a forty-year-old murder associated with the members of the commune. The more Amy discovered about the commune’s history, the more dangerous life became for her and her friends. Time was running out before there would be more murders.

The author has built an enjoyable cozy mystery that easily holds the reader’s attention from page 1 to the last sentence. Though there are two cats woven into the story, there is no library cat. But even without the cat, the book was an enjoyable read.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Fragments of Fear - A Review

Evelyn Yvonne McTavish (‘Tavish’ for short) is not being believed. She is convinced that her fiance has been murdered - the police do not believe her. Evelyn tells the city pound that Marley, the Puli (a dog breed) is not hers - Mr. Brown, the attendant, does not believe her. And when she reports the death of John Coyote (a client for whom she did some artwork), the police cannot find the body or the blood she had seen on the floor. Evelyn’s credibility is going downhill fast.

All that is in the first two chapters.

The plot involves events that are over two years old, events that may involve her mother in a criminal conspiracy, and events that may involve national security issues. Tavish and FBI Special Agent Sawyer Price will need to work independently and cooperatively to piece together the seemingly disconnected pieces of information to solve the riddles before them.

Written with a light faith-based style, the book has its protagonists looking at their own spiritual lives even as they are forced to work together on the issues before them.

The book belongs in both the church and public library, as well as in the hands of those who enjoy a thrill ride from an experienced author. For those looking for a good Fall weekend read, this book may fill the bill.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.