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January 28, 2013

Book Four of my 2013 Goal

Unintended ConsequencesUnintended Consequences by Marti Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unintended Consequences by Marti Green is a fictional crime/legal thriller full of suspense and nail biting activity. I had to check before I starting writing this review to make sure this was a work of fiction since it was so believable. It could have been a story of non-fiction since there really is an organizations that tries to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals and although the story line was a bit twisted, it could have been true. What further adds to the believably of the story is that the main character was at times in turmoil and has uncertainties of whether to take this case and later on to go home to be with her sick son. There are other instances of this kind of 'real world issues' effecting the story too. Luckily Dani had a good head on her shoulders, a great team, and a supportive and understanding husband.

Dani Trumball, an attorney with Help Innocent Prisoners Project (HIPP) receives a letter written by George Calhoun claiming he didn't kill his little girl although he has been in prison over nineteen years and is waiting on Death Row with only six weeks until his execution. Dani normally don't take child murder cases but found she was haunted by Mr. Calhoun's plea of innocence. After going to the meet him, Dani learns some disturbing facts about his conviction including that his attorney at the time didn't order any kind of blood test or DNA test to prove the burnt body of the child found buried in the woods was indeed Mr. Calhoun's daughter, Angelina. The attorney claims he had Mrs. Calhoun's confession saying that her husband killed their little girl and that was enough proof and there was no need to go any further. More importantly Dani learns the answer to some burning questions, such as why Mr. Calhoun kept saying the girl found in the woods wasn't his daughter, why Mrs. Calhoun said that her husband killed Angelina, what really happened to Angelina Calhoun, and why her father remained silent for so long, now all she had to do was prove it.

This wasn't a clear cut case which made it more believable. There were obstacles to overcome and that ever present clicking of the clock counting down the minutes Mr. Calhoun had to live. Then there was the mystery of why the key person ended up dead and who left the death threat on the car of one of the HIPP workers. All this going on while trying to answer the two main questions, if the body found in the woods wasn't Angelina's, then who's was it, and who killed and buried her there. Further adding to the believably of the story was the realization that the system was not perfect and at times it fails. There was also the added acknowledgement that some lawyers are in it for the money and not the best interest of their client as well as the ever so present lack of commitment from those higher up because of political reasons. Even Dani had issues when she was torn between being there for her client and being away from her son, Jonah who has William's Syndrome, a genetic disorder that caused mild retardation, when he became ill.

I totally enjoyed the story which had me turning page after page to see who lives or dies and what happens next. Some of the story was predictable but certainly not all of it and at times had me on the edge of my seat. I think it was well written with a good pace. I felt the main characters were developed sufficiently and I especially felt connected with Dani. I would recommend this to anyone who likes crime/legal thrillers although I would guess that mothers could relate more closely with the characters/story.

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January 24, 2013

Book Three of my 2013 Goal

The Whaler's BrideThe Whaler's Bride by Carla Marie Sullwold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Whaler's Bride by Carla Marie Sullwold is a slow paced romance, mystery perfect for relaxing by the fireplace. The author's use of words in her descriptions is impressive and the feeling I got while reading it stayed with me long after the book was finished. The story is filled with a lot of descriptions of the settings which in a way stall the slow pace of the story, however it has a lot to do with the overall picture and understanding the 'feeling' of the main character, Mary Lee.

The story starts off when Mary Lee Larssen recalls on her honeymoon when her husband, Lucas buys her an exquisite piece of scrimshaw as a memento of the beginning of their life together. Mary Lee cherishes this scrimshaw and after Lucas dies from a heart attack 40 years later she visits a scrimshaw exhibit in a museum in New Bedford. Mary Lee spots a piece of scrimshaw by Lars Linquist that is the spitting image of her husband and becomes obsessed with finding out more about the piece as well as her own. Her search brings her back to Cape Cod, the place her piece was purchased from. Not only does Mary Lee learn more about these pieces of scrimshaw, she uncovers another mystery in the Cape, only this one is about a very prominent family from long ago, the Snows.

The characters in the story are well developed and the pace is slow and relaxing. The authors love of words is prominent throughout the story and at times are as rhythmic and beautiful as good poetry. The settings are well described to the point where you can almost hear the waves crashing on the shore or see the scrimshaw right in front of you. The ending was a bit of a surprise and so beautiful. It made me sigh and fill with so many emotions, I am sure this story will stay with me for quite some time.

I recommend this story to anyone who would like a slow paced, relaxing read about love and its boundaries.

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January 22, 2013

Book Two of My 2013 Goal

Building Long Term RelationshipsBuilding Long Term Relationships by John Loeff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Building Long-Term Relationships by John W Loeff is written for those who tend to fall through the cracks. Counseling is expensive and time is an issue since most people work all day. Family and other support systems are not always available so instead of making the same mistakes in your relationship over and over as it all falls apart before your eyes, reading the book with honest self-awareness may be able to help you help yourself and save your relationship. Not only is it for those who find themselves in a relationship that is not ideal, he recommends it for people who are thinking of getting married. I suggest everyone read this book. Not only will it help your relationship, it may open your eyes to what and why in every relationship from your friendships to interaction with co-workers.

The author has education in human relations, human development, and psycho dynamic counseling combined with private practice, teaching, and more than 44 years of experience with his original spouse which is a rarity these days. So in other words, he is 'qualified' to write the book and he did it in easy to understand terms. He uses examples of people we all know about such as Tiger Woods, David Lettermen, Prince William and Catherine Middleton. When he does use some technical words, he defines them for you so there is no need to sit there with your dictionary in hand. There are also suggested readings if you want to get more into a particular subject and there are also questions at the end of each chapter for you to think about and/or discuss with your partner. The key is to have realistic expectations and what I mean by this is if you are with the most difficult person in the world that you found you don't even like anymore then all the books in the world will most likely do you no good. This is a self help type book for you to understand what relationships are and how they grow. You just need to be committed to read the book, honestly examine your own actions/reactions, and take the information that is provided to build your relationship and take it to new heights.

I know there are more ways to communicate (some covered in the book) but I was glad to see that verbal communication was covered near the beginning of the book. I know you must think why anyone would write about that, everyone knows how to talk except tiny babies. There is a difference of talking and communicating. I know a lot of people who 'talk' and don't communicate at all. In order to communicate you need someone to listen (listening is the next chapter covered) and I mean an active listener, not someone who sits there nodding their head every once a while as they are busy texting their friend and hearing about every tenth word your saying. To communicate you need to talk so the other person understands what you are saying and you need to listen to what the other person is saying too, don't just talk at the other person. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines communication as an exchange of information and with the Mr. Loeff's book we can improve our communication skills which in turn will help in any relationship. I know for a fact that a relationship without communication is a doomed relationship.

This was rather a long book but a lot of information is covered. As I already pointed out communication and listening was covered as well as: what is expected, family dynamics, personalities, development stages of a marriage, problem solving, negotiating, managing change, ethics and the future of marriage.The author makes his point and asks some really good questions at the end of each of these chapters. The use of common items so we understand the importance of it also helps with the visualization of the problems. For example the marriage maintenance program identifies ten underlying issues-the building blocks-and by working on each one of these "blocks" and using the right amount of "mortar," couples can create a long-lasting, stable partnership. This automatically has me thinking of some sort of block wall and what happens when the blocks are placed with no mortar or too little mortar, the wall comes tumbling down.

I know this book is geared for couples in relationships but I would recommend this book to everyone whether you're in a relationship or not because it will help you see your own self. There are things that you may see that you may want to change regardless of your marital status.

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January 5, 2013

Book 1 of 2013

Appointment with DeathAppointment with Death by David J Dundas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Appointment with Death by David J Dundas is a relatively short crime story. It follows Mike Murphy, a detective in Silverton where people are showing up dead. They are murdered by the same person because this serial killer had his own unique way of leaving his victims. Detective Murphy narrows the possibilities as the killer keeps taunting him and he even leaves bodies of some people close to him as a "Catch me if you can" statement. Maybe the goal is to kill Detective Murphy as the 'cat and mouse' game continues until finally Detective Murphy thinks he knows who this killer is and why he is killing these people. The real test is if he can find and stop him before more people die.

The characters are varied in their development with some are more developed than others. Mike Murphy is the most developed and the story starts off with him before he went to the Police Academy so there is more of a background for him. There are enough characters in the story to make it realistic including other police personnel and those outside the police force such as the prostitutes. The killer is developed enough to understand what is going on and why. I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters in the story though.

The plot is good and the story always progressed toward the final goal but I had a hard time really getting into it. It was enjoyable and has a good entertainment value but there was no real connection going on with any one and the story failed to draw me in. You know how some books you are drawn into them and it's like you are right there next to the characters in your mind's eye watching as the story plays out with each turn of the page? Well, that didn't happen at all. It was me sitting in my bedroom reading a story. I never got drawn into it nor did I connect with any of the characters but even so, it still was a good crime story.

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