Saturday, December 24, 2011

(91) MMA, trust funds and corrupt church officials

Title: Murder in the Irish Channel by Greg Herren
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
240 pages
Genre: Mystery LGBT

Synopsis: It begins as a simple missing persons case—a young MMA fighter's mother has mysteriously disappeared. But as New Orleans private eye Chanse MacLeod starts digging around, he discovers that she is the leader of a group fighting the powerful Archdiocese of New Orleans over the closing of two churches. As the trail leads from corrupt church officials to powerful real estate developers to the world of cage fighting, Chanse soon realizes there are a lot of powerful people who want to make sure she stays gone—and don't have a problem with getting rid of a pesky gay private eye.

Review: There are many twists and turns in this book and I have to say I didn't see the outcome.  This series just gets better and better.  While this series isn't as racy as his Scotty series seems to be, its just as entertaining. I appreciate that Chanse's character isn't written over the top. His life is just as complex and mundane as the rest of us.  His assistant and occasional stripper Abby is a fabulous addition to this series. I love her spunk and drive.

The story takes place in New Orleans, post Katrina and the atmosphere and the descriptions of the city are masterfully done, even little details about the different Mardi Gras krewes make the atmosphere realistic. Makes me long to go back and get a po'boy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

(90) learning to work within the system

Title: Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope inside a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
Publisher: Mariner Books
352 Pages
Genre: non-fiction

Synopsis: Irrepressible memories. Vacant eyes. A child being dangled from a third story window. A boy tied to a chair. Children sleeping in layers of clothing to fight off the bitter cold. An infant dying from starvation. Some things your mind will never allow you to forget.

Silent Tears is the true story of the adversity and triumphs one woman faced as she fought against the Chinese bureaucracy to help that country’s orphaned children.

In 2003, Kay Bratt’s life changed dramatically. A wife and mother of two girls in South Carolina, Bratt relocated her family to rural China to support her husband as he took on a new management position for his American employer. Seeking a way to fill her days and overcome the isolation she experienced upon arriving in a foreign country, Bratt began volunteering at the local orphanage. Within months, her simple desire to make use of her time transformed into a heroic crusade to improve the living conditions and minimize the unnecessary deaths of Chinese orphans.

Silent Tears traces the emotional hurdles and daily frustrations faced by Ms. Bratt as she tried to change the social conditions for these marginalized children. The memoir vividly illustrates how she was able to pull from reservoirs of inner strength to pursue her mission day after day, leaving the reader with the resounding message that everyone really can make a difference.

Review: This book is not for the weak at heart.  The conditions in orphanages overseas can be heartbreaking and make many people want to storm in with our "American" righteousness and tell them they are doing it wrong and force them to do it a different way.  This of course never works and only seems to close more doors than it opens.

Kay Bratt learned to work within a very broken system.  She learned when she should walk away, and picked which battles to fight.  While it may be heartbreaking to read about the way these children are treated you need to look at the amount of good Kay brought to their lives.  Little changes often make the biggest impact.

Kay learned the culture of China, she learned how to work within the system to make little changes that made a big impact.  She learned quickly that sometimes you have to observe and step back from a situation and know that maybe just your presence makes a difference, much more than fighting a system that's been in place for years.

Kay Bratt has done a lot of good work for the orphans of China but there is so much work still left to be done not only in China but across the world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Character or Plot

A weekly meme hosted by Booking Through Thursdays What’s more important to you? Real, three-dimensional, fleshed-out fascinating characters? Or an amazing, page-turning plot? (Yes, I know, they are both important. But if you had to pick one as being more important than the other?)

This is sort of one of those chicken and the egg questions to me...I would have to say that I need a good plot to keep me going even if the characters are fabulous.  If the plot isn't going anywhere but I know my characters life story so what...I'm not trying to be their friend I want to be entertained.  But then again if I have a good plot and lousy characters that could ruin it for me as which comes first not sure but if I had to pick I think I would go with plot.

My Favorite Books of 2011

I started this last year and thought I would continue the tradition.  This is my top 10 favorite books that I've read this year.  That does not necessarily mean that they were published this past year some may have been published long ago and some may not be published until 2012 but all the books on this list were read by me in 2011.

This list is in no particular order I just put them down as I remembered them. I don't want to list an author twice so if I've read more than one book by this author this year  that I also believe should be on this list I will put a star after their name.

  1. Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert
  2. Stolen by Margaret Peterson Haddix*
  3. Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  5. Cutting  For Stone by Abraham Verghese
  6. Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison
  7. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
  8. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  9. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  10. This is Us: the new all American Family by David Marin

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(89) IVF and Murder

Title: A Perilous Conception by Larry Karp
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
250 pages
Genre: Mystery

I received this book as an advanced electronic galley from It was released Dec 6, 2011.

Synopsis: It’s 1976. Despite fierce international controversy over whether in vitro fertilization should ever be performed in humans, doctors around the world race to be first to produce a baby by this procedure. Dr. Colin Sanford, a brilliant, ambitious obstetrician in the Pacific Northwest city of Emerald, has a plan. He recruits Dr. Giselle Hearn, an experienced laboratory geneticist-embryologist at the University. Drs. Sanford and Hearn, working secretly, set out to put their names in history books.
Several months later, Dr. Sanford’s patient, Joyce Kennett, gives birth to a healthy boy, and Sanford prepares to make an announcement at a press conference. But before it convenes, Ms. Kennett’s marginally- schizophrenic husband kills Dr. Hearn and then himself. Police Detective Bernie Baumgartner’s investigation is hampered by pressure from influential people at the University who want to control sensationalism that might harm the institution. Tenacious Baumgartner suspects more at play...

Review: I had a tough time with this book.  I wanted to like it but it just wasn't happening for me.  I don't need to love the characters of a book to actually enjoy it but there should be someone that I can route for but I didn't even find that, with the exception of really liking the locksmith character who is a friend of Baumgartner and not really a main character to the book.

Dr. Sanfords character has a massive god complex which can be common given his profession but he begins to seriously grate on every nerve, Baumgartner is a cop before anything else. I can't even say he is a good cop since he breaks more rules than Stabler on Law and Order SVU. Plus he basically just ignores his wife which was random and not necessary to the plot.

The mystery isn't much of a mystery and you can figure out what is going on rather quickly.  There is a bit more of a twist toward the end of the book which made it start moving more quickly but in the end I was just left rather empty. Unfortunately the best thing I can say about this book is that if you want to know about the history of IVF there is plenty of that in here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Challenges for 2012

Its that time of year again...the time to decide what reading challenges I will attempt for 2012

1. Nordic Mystery Challenge 2012 - well this is a given since I'm hosting this challenge but I thought I would like is anyway.

2. The LGBT Book Challenge - I loved this challenge and although I didn't read as many lgbt themed books as I may have the year before I did stumble across some good ones.

3. Adoption Reading Challenge - I'm torn about this one.  I think I might just do this on my own instead of actually joining the actual challenge.  So I will leave it on my challenges page but I won't be posting the links to the challenge wall.

4. Shelfari Reading challenge...I really fell down on this one this year...I spent so much time blogging that I didn't go back and link to the challenge site.  I am going to work on this for next year.

I don't know if I will join any other challenges I'll have to see how it goes.  Being in school and working full time is taking up a lot of my energy.

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