Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Health of Nations Book Review

I received a free copy of The Health of Nations Towards a World Without Contagious Disease by Karen Bartlett from the Early Reviewers group at Librarything.  It counts, however, as a selection for the New Authors Reading Challenge.  The Health of Nations is a history of the successes and failures of scientists to eradicate diseases such as smallpox and polio from the planet.

The book begins with a few chapters on the effort to eradicate smallpox from the planet.  The effort was successful!  The author then takes us to the fight to find a vaccine for polio as well as attempting to remove the disease from all nations.  A chapter on Bill Gates' activities in this effort is included.  The author continues her history of 20th century diseases with malaria, HIV, measles, and ebola.  The anti-vaccine movement is also covered.

I am a layperson and found the book to be an interesting read.  However, it is a must read for medical professionals.  It names the doctors and scientists who had involvement in each of these diseases and what their specific contributions were.  The politics of the medical profession as well as the activities of the World Health Organization are discussed in detail. This is a great resource for future generations as well.  Maintaining the history of the fight against these diseases is important.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beardo The Art Degree Guarantee Book Review

I read Beardo The Art Degree Guarantee by Dan Dougherty for the Manga/Graphic Novel Challenge.  It was both written and illustrated by Dougherty and is Volume 1 of the Beardo series.  It was published in 2014.  The Art Degree Guarantee pokes fun at the coffee shop industry as well as the travails of those of us with art degrees.  It is Dougherty's autobiography.

The comic strip begins with Beardo at his graduation telling his father that the sky is the limit and quickly moves to him applying for a job at a coffee shop.  While trying to pursue his art career on the side Beardo has to deal with rude customers, wacky co-workers and new relationships. He is hilarious at it.  I have to wonder if the baristas that I know comment behind my back on the type of customer that I am when I am at a coffee shop. Beardo has made me a little paranoid.

I appreciate that the art work is colored. In fact, I try to purchase only colorful graphic novels.  The colors just speak to me for some reason and when I am down I always reach for a colored book.   The deep greens, yellows and oranges within this book lift my spirits every time I look at it.

I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read the other books in the series.

The Deadliest Sin Book Review

The Deadliest Sin was written by a group of medieval mystery authors who call themselves the Medieval Murderers.  It is their 10th collaborative effort.  The authors include Michael Jecks, Ian Morson, Susannah Gregory, Simon Beaufort, Philip Gooden, Bernard Knight and Karen Maitland.  Each author has written a separate chapter in the book that advances the plot.  Each chapter concerns one of the Bible's seven deadly sins which are lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, anger, envy, and pride.

The story begins in the spring of 1348 with rumors of the coming Plague scaring people into either becoming devout Christians, drinkers or to go on a pilgrimage.  A group of travelers meet at an inn in England.  The inn owner convinces his guests to tell everyone what they have seen in their travels. Each guest tells a tale about one of the deadliest sins that becomes a chapter in the book.

I love this series.  While some of the chapters are more interesting than others I feel that is to be expected in any anthology of stories.  All the chapters are well written and the authors' knowledge of medieval times is evident.  The differences in writing styles complement each other and creates one fabulous historical fiction book.   Anyone who loves medieval mysteries will love this book.

The Forbidden Daughter Book Review

I read The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal for the New Authors Reading Challenge.  It is a novel about how the selective abortion of female fetuses has been used by those who care about the old ways in order to produce only male heirs.

Isha Tilak and her husband Nikhil have one daughter, Priya.  Priya is treated abysmally by her grandparents compared to her male cousins but the family does not address the issue. When Isha becomes pregnant for the second time, an ultrasound is performed to check on the baby's health but also to check the baby's sex.  When Isha is found to be pregnant with a second girl her ob-gyn offers to perform an abortion.  In addition, her in-laws insist upon it. Selective abortion is not legal in 2006 India and Isha's Doctor, Dr. Karnik, has broken the law by offering to perform an abortion.  Nikhil is outraged and gathers information on Dr. Karnik but is unable to use it after he is mysteriously killed while at work.  Isha's in-laws blame the killing on the curse of the new baby but she is convinced it has something to do with Dr. Karnik's solution to her problem.

The Forbidden Daughter is a beautifully written book about modern Indian culture.  It gives an interesting look into the continued importance of having a male heir in today's society.  The author took on a tough subject and made it a captivating read.  I was spell bound by the main character Isha's decision to forgo her Brahman airs and go out on her own in order to raise her daughters. She overcomes the notion of how a well-bred woman should behave and becomes an independent woman.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dead Cold Brew Book Review

I read Cleo Coyle's Dead Cold Brew for the Craving for Cozies 2017 Reading Challenge.  Cleo Coyle is the pen name of the husband and wife writing team of Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini.  It is the 16th installment of their coffeehouse mystery series of which I have read them all. This series is modern and fast paced compared to other cozy mystery series which makes Dead Cold Brew a quick read.  I read it in one sitting.

The story opens with a scene from 1956 inside the sinking luxury cruise ship Andrea Doria where abused wife Angelica Campana and her 4 year old daughter Perla escape, but not until after Angelica holds her husband Gus's head down in the water rising in their room.  The story then moves to the present with coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi and her business partner, ex-husband Matteo Allegro discussing an exciting new business opportunity.  Matt and Clare have been invited to prepare a new coffee blend for a competition among coffee houses to sell their new blend to a cruise ship revival of the old Andrea Doria.  Wanting to do some research on the sunken ship, Matt suggests that she talk to his godfather Gus Campana who had been a passenger on the old ship.

While working on the blend Clare accepts an engagement ring from her long time cop boyfriend Mike Quinn. The ring has special coffee colored diamonds in its setting that were offered to Mike by Clare's boss and former mother-in-law Blanche Dreyfus Allegro DuBois who had previously worn them in a brooch. 

The plot moves in many directions.  A subplot concerning cops getting shot by snipers is prominent and there is alot of background information on the diamond trade which the Campana family is a part of.  

Dead Cold Brew is a welcome addition to the series.  As I mentioned earlier this book is fast paced.  It is modern.  There is mention of the characters having sex.  You would never see that in a traditional cozy. There is a subplot about cops getting shot at which is currently prominent in our national life.  This story covers alot of ground for a 307 page book and also includes coffee and dessert recipes at the end. Simply, a great read.