a turtle’s eye view – the lost codex by alan jacobson

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via open road media in exchange for an honest review.

the first bible was written in 953 c.e. and hundred years later, in 1953, while being transported from syria, half of it went missing. near that time, an ancient scroll was discovered at an archaeological dig in the foothills of the dead sea and was immediately stolen. fast forward sixty years and both documents are at the center of a religious and geopolitical struggle that is threatening to destroy not only everyone it touches but entire countries.  a group of trained operatives is tasked with finding the stolen documents. they must also find the persons responsible for the current attacks taking place in the united states and ensure that the attacks don’t continue, by whatever means necessary.

the hardest part of  the lost codex was that i didn’t have a button i could press that would put life and all of its distractions on hold so i could read it without disruption. this book is so rich with colour and nuance and language that i just wanted to dive into it and not come out until it was over. alan jacobson has created incredibly three-dimensional characters and i was immediately immersed in their world. that in and of itself isn’t necessarily a new thing – until you realize that this book is a part of a series (and an unnamed part of another) and i haven’t read anything of either. i knew this going in, and generally don’t like doing it, but there wasn’t anything lost to an unknown history, even when a character’s history was mentioned.

this was a fantastic story with fantastic characters and a gripping premise. if not for life, i would have finished it a lot sooner. jacobson is an outstanding writer and after this book, i am adding the entire opsig team black and karen vail series to my to be read shelf.

five out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – quiet neighbors by catriona mcpherson

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via midnight ink in exchange for an honest review.

when jude flees london and a secret she ends up back in wigtown, where she spent a less than stellar vacation. she finds a job and a place to live thanks to lowell, a local bookstore owner. she also finds a mystery as she tries to organize the bookstore. now she has to deal with her past and a growing number of mysteries in her present when all she wants is a quiet place to start her life over.

i have to admit, quiet neighbors wasn’t what i was expecting. it was a little slow getting started but still drew me in and kept my interest. i wavered between liking lowell and being suspicious of him which kept my relationship with him unsteady. i liked jude and found myself wondering what had happened to make her run because she didn’t strike me as a runner. lots of interesting people flit in and out of the story but one person, eddy, comes in and stays. she got on my nerves but i’ll leave you to make your own decisions about her. overall, cartiona mcpherson presents a solid, if plodding at times, mystery.

three out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – every seven years by denise mina

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via open road integrated media and mysterious press in exchange for an honest review.

else fled scotland to try to start a new life after a childhood filled with bullying and secrets and shame. after seven years away, she has returned home because her mother is dying. as a welcome back gift, her worst tormentor gives her the exact copy of the book that prompted her to flee to begin with. now, else must deal with her mother’s death while trying to navigate the murky waters of her childhood.

every seven years is an e-book short story in the bibliomysteries series. it’s well written and  denise mina plunges the reader into else’s story giving them no chance to take a breath before going under. the story is fast-paced and wastes no time with trivialities. the end is not predictable and i only wish that the story had been longer.

three out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – a covenant with death by stephen becker

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via open road integrated media in exchange for an honest review.

in 1923, the lovely and highly desired louise talbot is brutally murdered. when it’s discovered that she was having an affair, her husband is charged with the crime. the trial and its aftermath rocks the tiny town of soledad city and forever changes the lives of all its  residents.

a covenant with death was originally published in 1964 and this is its well deserved re-emergence. it’s clear from the beginning that ben lewis, one of the town’s two magistrates, is an unreliable narrator. he was naive when the events took place and he’s looking back with insight gained through a lifetime of experience.

when you know that the narrator is unreliable you have to ask yourself, “can i believe anything he says, even with the added benefit of experience?” in a covenant with death what you’re actually hearing is a story that was observed and lived by one version of a man, processed by another version of him, and finally reconstructed and told by a third. like playing the children’s game “telephone” you know that details, perhaps crucial ones, will be altered, perhaps irrevocably, from their original version.

author stephen becker has crafted a narrator who can rise above this handicap. each time ben lewis steps out of the narration to weave his current life into it should jar the reader out of the story. instead, it pulls you further and further into the story, not only because of the murder and the trial and the people, but because he is as compelling a character in the context of the original story as he is fascinating a character in his own right.

there is a lot of time period specific language in the story, but the meaning is clear in the given context. there are sections that are incredibly verbose but, given the time period (1923), the language makes sense and doesn’t draw you out of the story. i’m sorry that it took me so long to find out about this story because it is a fascinating character study and intriguing foray into the 1920’s legal system.

five out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the red mohawk by anonymous

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via black shadow press in exchange for an honest review.

welcome to b movie hell, population … well, right now it’s fluid because a killer nicknamed the red mohawk has arrived and is murdering his way through town. they don’t know what he’s looking for but agents jack munson and milena fonseca are going to find out, unless the killer finds them first. there’s a good chance he might because the town of b movie hell doesn’t want outside help even though the bodies are piling up.

this book was so much fun to read. it was fast-paced and didn’t take itself at all seriously. i like to imagine that the anonymous author sat down to write the red mohawk and asked him/herself, “how close can i come to the edge without falling off?” and then walked along the edge beautifully.

the thing is, i actually found myself caring about a few of these characters. when the book was over i wondered what they would be doing and if they would be happy. it can’t be easy to write a book like this, an homage to bad horror movies and bad fbi movies, but anonymous did it with this book and did it with panache.

four out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – bait by elena hearty

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via samhain publishing, ltd. in exchange for an honest review.

paul’s a vampire and lenore is his…well, she’s supposed to be the one who fetches his meals. lenore can’t bring herself to do it, though, and when the two run into sam that failing becomes crystal clear. and more dangerous for lenore and ultimately for sam.

i never really clicked with bait. i spent the majority of the book wondering if i had missed something. if i had gotten the full text. i even went back and checked page numbers several times. when i wasn’t wondering that, i was wishing that paul would just eat lenore already because i was so tired of her whining and crying. i never connected with any of the characters, actually, and finished the book out of obligation not a need to see how it was all going to come out.

there was a lot of talk in bait but no real action. vampires are best when they’re evil and bitey. there are times when a vampire can be funny and snarky and still be captivatingly evil but, unfortunately, elena hearty‘s vampires never reach that golden ratio.

one out of five stars

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let’s talk about latex

no, not like that. get your minds out of the gutter people.

i found out i was allergic to latex at a party after i went into anaphylactic shock. it was scary and not fun at all. kind of ruined the party, too. this necessitated a lot of changes in my life. some of them weren’t so bad, some of them were amazingly complicated because they involved things i never really thought about before. i already carried an epi-pen because of a fight with a bee while in college (i lost). back then, though, it was a kit with a red box containing an actual syringe filled with epinephrine, two chewable antihistamine pills, and a red string (no kidding, it was a tourniquet).

next came the complicated part. going through my life and sorting the latex from the non-latex items. now, think about all the things in your life.

-do you eat? call all your favourite restaurants to find out if they use latex gloves. you’ll need to speak to a manager, though, and you’ll need to find out about the food prep area and the dish room because they might use different gloves in different areas. it’s rare but it happens. and you’re done with spontaneously dropping into a new restaurant and/or having surprise parties because you need to find out about the glove issue first.

-do you wear shoes? the soles and/or uppers of your shoes probably contain latex.

-fond of office/school supplies? they contain latex like you wouldn’t believe. erasers on the end of pencils, those cool shaped erasers that smell good, those pink blocky ones (yeah, pretty much all erasers is what i’m saying), the keys on some calculators, the squishy thing on pens where you hold them.

-do you wear underwear? (hey, that’s a rhetorical question so please don’t feel obligated to answer it.) there’s latex in the waistband and maybe in the material itself depending on what brand you buy.

-are you a woman? there’s latex in your bra (see above).

-do you swim? yeah, it’s there. in your swimsuit material and/or the elastic.

-do you like haunted houses/halloween in general? i’m sorry. i’m so so sorry. you’re done with haunted houses. they’re filled with latex, absolutely filled. there’s no way to avoid it and if, like me, you react to it when it’s in abundance in the air you won’t even make it a quarter of the way through. on the bright side, you can find non-latex costumes but you can’t control what other people wear or decorate with at parties or what kids wear when trick-or-treating. i don’t particularly care for halloween in general but i really miss haunted houses.

-do you go to the doctor and/or treat minor things at home? the first words you say when scheduling an appointment and when you walk in the office is now, “i’m allergic to latex.” band-aids contain latex. ace bandages contain latex. medicine droppers contain latex.

now here’s the good news, only about one percent of people are estimated to have an allergy to latex and there is tons of information out there about it. in the beginning it’s annoying as hell but once you’re used to it, it’s second nature to ask about products, check labels, and make it the first thing you say to medical personnel. here are some links to get you started:

american latex allergy association consumer products list
american latex allergy association medical products list
decent exposures (bras, underwear, swimwear, etc.)
medicalert (trust me, you need the id)

p.s. a lot of people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to bananas. thankfully, i’m not one of them.
p.p.s. did you know that poinsettia plants contain latex?

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