Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: Revenge on the River

Revenge on the River
Philippe Bouin

When Cédric Bergelet is attacked and injured and his father's large chemical company gets threatening letters it is assumed that someone from the past has his sights set on blackmail or revenge. Sister Blandine is close to the family and therefore takes on a leading role in the investigation to uncover the true identity of the culprit behind further attacks on company employees.

Mr. Bouin has written a lively mystery that is full of biting wit and told from various points of view, giving the reader a look into the minds of each character. The modern style of writing was unexpected. Although I found it jarring at first, this approach did make the characters seem more alive and realistic. The style might not be to everyone's taste but I was drawn in and wanted to know how the mystery would end.  

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: Blood Kin

Blood Kin

Blood Kin
Ceridwen Dovey 

It's hard to imagine a book about a political coup being sensual, exotic, beautiful and terrifying at the same time, but that is just what this book is. it follows three prisoners of the coup d'etat, the former President's portraitist, his chef and his barber. Each character, both near and far to the center of power will draw the reader into his  most personal details, his hopes and dreams, his past and present to create a complex web of what seems at first a harmless existence only to reveal in the end the true nature of power.

Although, this is not a new book, as it was originally published in 2007, I came across it by accident. I can honestly say that this is one of the better books that I've read this year. If you are looking for something unique this is the one I would recommend. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death
Charles Finch

Charles Lenox is an amateur detective in London with a passion for solving crimes. In his current case he has to find out why a maid has been killed. His task may not be as straight forward as he initially thought. But, he has a set of friends and associates who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Set in the 1860's this story takes place in large mansions and gentleman's clubs. It is full of well described surroundings that give the reader a real sense of place. It incorporates loads of details and its atmosphere fully draws the reader into the story. Anyone who loves British mysteries will enjoy this novel. It will make you want to curl up next to a fire with a cup of tea and a hobnob, and help Lenox solve the case. When you finish, like me you'll be waiting for, and wanting to read more of detective Lenox.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: The Professor Is In

The Professor Is In
Karen Kelsky PhD

If you are thinking about a PhD, in the process of completing a PhD or have one and find yourself looking for the elusive tenure-track position, then this is a book you can't afford to miss. Dr. Kelsky demystifies the process of a tenure-track job by explaining how it actually works, from the onset when a department decides to create an open position to what the selection committee is looking for, right up to how a possible candidate is selected.

This book is full of good advice, from how to improve documents such as a professional CV or grant proposal, to what to wear to a job interview. This type of advice is not always readily available from advisers, mentors or academic departments and what makes it more reliable is the fact that Dr. Kelsky was a tenure-track professor. She therefore has the inside information that graduate students and post-doctorates need.

For those of you who think you have become a bit of a failure because you haven't found a permanent position or a tenure-track position think again. Dr. Kelsky gives some advice about seeking employment outside the academic world. In fact, she has a list of skills you may have acquired in your pursuit for a higher degree that may translate well in the nonacademic world.

Hopefully, future students will read the chapter entitled "Debt and Ethical Advising", which should make one think long and hard about how much debt one can reasonably expect to incur and actually pay off. While I wouldn't want to discourage someone from attempting a graduate degree, I think these days it has to be done with some realistic financial planning and a realization that the tenure-track jobs that used to be readily available, are no longer there and the positions that are may not make the financial investment worth it.

If this book taught me one thing, it is the fact that graduate students and post-doctorates must not rely on others, be they academic advisers, financial advisers or mentors, they must make sound judgments based on their own experience and research. For that reason alone this book is invaluable.

Review copy provided by bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: White Leopard

White Leopard
Laurent Guillaume

Solo Camara isn't your usual retired policeman turned  private investigator. He has a past, a dangerous one. Now that he's a wanted man in France he has settled in the West African country of Mali, his father's homeland. It's here in Bamako, the capital city that Camara takes on a case to help a woman whose sister has been arrested for drug trafficking. But, when she turns up dead all hell breaks loose. Camara must follow his instincts if he wants to find out what happened to her, even if it gets him into some tricky situations.

This is a gritty, fast paced, graphic novel full of action, unlike anything I've read recently. The setting is exotic and the characters diverse. The author created the right balance between back story and the main characters dilemma. It was also a good look into how things work, or in some cases don't work in West Africa. I hope Solo Camara will be back with more cases to solve soon.

Thanks to Netgalley and Le French Book for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: Southern Medley and a Sordid Affair

Southern Medley and a Sordid Affair
P.T. Borden

A griping, well written tale worth reading. The main character is a bit naive when she sets off on an extra marital affair with what it clearly the "wrong" sort of man, who was not at all what he appeared to be. The story follows the affair of Petra, who like many women are both bored and disillusioned with life, and the drama that ensues from it. The characters are interesting and its full of psychological ups and downs, which will keep you glued to the pages. Frankly, it would make a very interesting movie.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Review: A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson

Another great read from Bill Bryson, which will make you laugh out loud in some places and nearly cry in others. I almost wanted to grab some gear and set out on the Appalachian Trail myself, ...almost.

With a keen eye for detail, Bryson fills us in, not only on the history of the trail, but the current state of it. Even though the trail is surrounded by millions of people as it cuts its way from Northern Georgia to Maine, hardly anyone knows it as well as the few hardy souls who dare to conquer it from end to end each year. The rest of us would probably be happier to drive along Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina or visit the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and view the magnificent vistas without necessarily feeling the need to become one with the elements. But thanks to Bill Bryson and his friend, Stephen Katz, we can follow their ups and downs as they try to claim the trail as there own. With humor and a loving regard for nature, Bryson takes us through a national treasure that we should probably all appreciate and experience more than we do.

This book will make you happy that there is still someone out there up for an adventure and able to spin an engaging tale for the rest of us to enjoy from the comforts of home. This is clearly the best of travel writing.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Dew Point

Dew Point
Maria Novella Viganò

The past can be a new beginning. When Margherita's husband dumps her for his mistress she is overwhelmed and decides to seek refuge in her past by moving back to her childhood villa. Along the way secrets are revealed that will change her and those around her.

While I found the beginning of the story a bit choppy it got better as I went along. In the end, I couldn't stop reading. I really wanted to know the secrets of her family as well as how things would turn out for Margherita. Overall, the book was interesting and engaging but it was very short, almost too short. A longer version would have given more space to develop the characters and expand on all of their stories.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest reveiw.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Smart but Dead

Smart but Dead
Nancy G. West

The description and cover of Smart but Dead by Nancy G. West suggested that this book would be a fun and humorous mystery. I didn't find that to be the case. Instead it was flat and not very engaging. Overall, I think there was too much “telling” and not enough “showing” in this story. There were things that bothered me as I read this book, for example while Aggie the main character, is supposed to be a mature student at 41, her behavior seemed more like that of a juvenile teenager. I didn't feel that there was enough character development in the first half of the story and it was a bit jarring that Aggie suddenly revealed, she had a child more than half way through the story. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more foreshadowing giving more depth to the characters at the start of the story.

It may be just a personal preference but I didn't really enjoy the style of writing in this book. To me, it seemed more corny than humorous. While the overall story about a Professor and his work on genetics is not a bad one, I think it would have benefited from a less flippant approach. The story was set in San Antonio but there seemed little in the way of description and atmosphere of that city to make it come alive in the book. Basically, the setting could have been on any campus in any city in the US since there were too few “scenes” of San Antonio.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing the book in exchange for an honest review.