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review 2016-06-12 05:53
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Faking Normal - Courtney C. Stevens

No one knows what happened to Alexi over the summer. And she deals with it on her own, hiding in her closet and scratching her neck.

And when Bodee, who has secrets of his own, comes to live with Alexi's family, she discovers an unlikely friend. As they lean on each other for support, they give each other the strength to face their secrets.

I'm sure there will be spoilers in my review. I thought this book sounded good, but I ended up loving it. I think Alexi and Bodee are such amazing characters. They're flawed. They're broken. But that just made them so relatable to me.

And I love their interactions with each other; their care and gentleness. It was so sweet.

Alexi has to come to terms with being raped, and not only that but who raped her. And Bodee is dealing with his mother's death. His own father killed her.

This book deals with some heavy issues, but it is very well-written. The author has a unique voice and a nice style of writing. And her characters, especially Alexi and Bodee, are very real. They are relatable.

I loved this book. I loved Alexi and Bodee. I loved how they were with each other. I just think this is such a good book. It has become a favorite of mine.

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review 2016-03-02 10:33
The Science of Sherlock Holmes
The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases - E.J. Wagner

Finally! This book has waited too long. First it languished on my TBR list for...3+ years and then when I at last sit down to read it, it took forever. In my defense, I think I read this at exactly the right time. I knew many of the cases by name (from The Art of the English Murder and others) and I'd read other books dealing with the history of forensics. So I knew there were going to be some difficult parts.


You could tell Wagner taught these subjects. There is a clear sense of time spent with the information and that she knows how to get to the necessary parts quickly but in a way the reader can understand. My biggest complaint is that Holmes seemed to fall by the wayside. Oh, there were mentions of him throughout each chapter but I feel like the information overwhelmed his presence. I think, personally, that was from the author's great presentation but still, I picked this up for Holmes. She did show how some of the cases might have influenced (and I think, given the corresponding elements, did) Doyle and the stories. The Kent murder mirrors The Sussex Vampire story quite a bit.


The chapter though, were grueling. Wagner describes a Victorian morgue in such detail, I swear I could smell it. I felt like it was a test from the author. If you made it through that segment, you could handle the rest. Switching to superstitious myths of black dogs almost gave me mental whiplash.


With a glossary in the back and an extensive bibliography, this is the type of non-fiction book I look for. The author doesn't pull in punches or consider the reader stupid, but writes so that a layman can understand.


If you have an interest in forensic science, the history of crime and famous cases, or just want to learn where Holmes stood in his time period, this is a great book. Just be warned if you have a weak stomach; there are some segments in here that are a bit more than you may be bargaining for.



Reading Updates (contains lots of notes and links to famous cases):





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text 2016-03-02 09:20
Reading progress update: I've read 256 out of 256 pages.
The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases - E.J. Wagner

Again, I'm going to try to be quick but there is a lot I want to remember. I'm also going to have to buy this book. I think I could read it a dozen times and learn new things every time!

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review 2016-02-28 08:29
The Modern Scholar: World War I: The Great War and The World It Made
World War I: The Great War and the World It Made (Audio) - John Ramsden

One day I'll feel I actually know this war. At least I hope I will.


Still, Professor Ramsden's lectures did help quite a bit. Thirteen lectures coverend the lead up to the war, during, and even the impacts and representations after. I never felt the time was wasted or the lectures boring; in most cases I wanted them to be a bit longer. He was rather easy to listen to, though I did have to skip back to catch parts I missed a time or two.


While some aspects I expected to be covered were barely mentioned (the influenza epidemic for one), much of it was covered in more detail than I'd had before. For example, I'd never understood the connection between Ypres and the Somme. The British moved the date of the Somme attack up (depriving them of needed preparation time apparently) in order to draw German forces off their attack of France's stronghold at Ypres. This also meant that the Somme offensive was not the massive joint attack they'd wanted it to be either.


The German navy, one of the reasons for the rise in hostilities before the war, barely saw combat. There was just so much to take in. But now I'd like to go through it year by year, in depth.


A sad, horrible, war.

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review 2016-02-26 11:46
The Walnut Tree (Short Story loosely connected with Bess Crawford series)
The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale - Charles Todd

Meh. That's about the best I can come up with. This book did nothing I hoped for when I

wanted it to. When I wanted more Bess...nothing. More nursing...Elspath gets kicked

out. (I'm sorry, that's not a spoiler. It was practically in neon lights from the moment she joined!)



Lady Elspath Douglas is in Paris keeping an old school friend company before the birth of her first child. Elspath's long had a crush on her friend's older brother, Alain, and he finally notices her...just as WWI starts. Our..."intrepid" hero's journey leads her across France in the early days, giving her the desire to become a nursing sister. But she's the ward of a very conservative uncle who'd never let her join - so she doesn't tell him and basically lies to get in. A love triangle develops...blah, blah, blah.


I wanted to like Elspath (though it could have been Bess!! Why wasn't it Bess?) but I never could quite connect with her. I think she's suppose to be independent and strong; I found her selfish and TSTL at times. She's suppose to be a great nurse; she lets worries and personal concerns take precedence. (I could talk here about the fact we've seen other nurses handle the same instances better...but that would make me sound like I'm blaming this character for not being the other one.) Elspath is suppose to be a character from an elevated position seeing the world change around her forever. She's shown to be okay with this; yet she flaunts rules, drops names and calls in favors, and seems to want the best of both worlds.


While I never thought Alain and her were a good match, I'm frankly left thinking Peter's too good for her. I think she's clearly on a path of growth but the problems is we see little of it. And she basically does one of the worse rebounds I've ever seen.


So...why am I giving this three stars? (I keep asking myself that very question.) In the end, the parts that worked...really worked. The historical aspects were well done and integral to the plot. They felt real and you could understand and feel them in a way it's difficult to in non-fiction. Some of the scenes where Elspath is growing and changing as her world changes around her are good and I absolutely loved the final part (where the story gets its name from).


Am I glad I read it? Yes and I will probably even buy an ebook copy of my own. Will I read it often?



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