Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cover of the Year - Asking for Your Vote

I just scanned the covers for Cover of the Year on Erin Aislinn's website and saw a lot of familiar covers - many were on my Judge A Book By its Cover blog last year :)

I invite you to visit and I hope that you will vote for Lady Lightkeeper which is one of my covers and it is listed as the winning cover for September.

If you prefer the easier route - feel free to email webmail@erinaislinn .com and put "VOTE for Lady Lightkeeper" in the subject line. I appreciate every vote :)


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Death's Acre

Death's Acre
Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

I am fascinated by forensics and the details that can be discovered through forensic work. So, when I got a chance to interview Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson on a book panel, I was thrilled. I have to admit that neither of the men were what I expected, but that's all right. But, I was very impressed with both of them and I've enjoyed the books they have written together.

For people who aren't familiar with Dr Bill Bass, he is a world renowned forensic anthropologist and he has worked on a huge number of cases. At one point in those cases, he realized that it would be beneficial if there was a scientific way to determine how long a body had been dead. This would make it much easier for police, attorneys etc to make a case against a suspect. If the time of death is narrowed down to several days - it can be hard to debate an alibi, but if the time of death can be narrowed down to a more limited time frame, that makes an alibi more necessary and more useful.

This is one of the things that prompted the development of the "Body Farm" at the University of Tennessee. The Body Farm was started by Dr Bass and it was originally an acre - therefore "Death's Acre". Dr Bass and the UT students study the various stages of death and decomposition in a wide variety of conditions. It is fantastic research which is very helpful in crime solving.

I could rattle off all kinds of great stories and examples that were in the book, but that would take the fun out of it for you. I will tell you that there is death, gore and sorted details. It could be more gory, but there is plenty of detail. I think it was handled very well and should appeal to many people who are interested in forensics and forensic anthropology. I highly recommend the book and it gives you an interesting overview of many aspects for Dr Bass' life.

I admit that I had a tough time getting into the beginning, but give it a chance. The case studies are great. When I talked with Dr Bass, he looked at my copy of the book and noticed all the paper clips on the pages (there are a lot). He asked me what they meant. When I told him those were all the examples that I want to include in my future mysteries. He gave me a huge smile and said he was very glad he could get me thinking. Its a fantastic resource for mystery writers and entertaining for people who are interested in forensics.

Nikki Leigh

The Ethnic Presidency by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The Ethnic Presidency by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

I've never really kept track of the political process. I have my own opinions, but I never really understood the process of primaries, caucuses and so on. So, I had never noticed how various ethnic groups vote in specific ways. After reading The Latino Challenge and The Ethnic Presidency I have learned so much about the electoral process and the deeper ways that the issues affect various ethnic groups.

The Ethnic Presidency delves into the democratic and republican parties, the various candidates and the parts they are playing or have played in the primary process. It gives a large number of examples from past elections which show techniques that have brought in votes from all ethnic groups.

In the introduction to the book, Earl Hutchinson explains why this topic involves more than the fact that there is a woman and a black man running for president this year. That makes the 2008 election more unusual, but throughout the years the same elements and principals have come into play in many elections and that even applies to the elections when two white men were running for president.

For anyone of any ethnic background, any age or any gender who wants to learn more about how race, gender and ethnic background play a big part in the election process - this is a must read. This year, more than any other, race, gender and ethnicity will have a major impact on the presidential election.

Nikki Leigh

The Appeal by John Grisham

I enjoy John Grisham's book and especially the legal books. It seems like a long time since I've read one of these, so I was looking forward to this one. I enjoy books that deal into subjects that I don't know a lot about and that applies to much of the legal system and especially appeals. So, I enjoyed the subject.

The reader learns about a husband and wife legal team who have quite literally "risked it all" for a client who has lost her husband and her son due to the negligence of a large corporation. I feel the reader is brought even deeper into the story as they learn more about the repercussions for the town because of things that were done by this corporation. It was nice to see that the attorneys didn't resent their situation (which I have seen in other characters - real and fictional).

As a reader, I wanted to reach into the book and help some characters while I wanted to strangle other. The art auction was a nice way to show the stark differences between the corporation owner and the people who his company hurt.

The plan that is implemented in part two seems very plausible and there have been elections where it seemed this sort of "campaign" is being executed. The detail in the planning and the specifics for an interesting array of characters was enjoyable.

I won't give away the end, but I wanted the new justice to have something happen to him and the "incident" worked very well for the book and seemed appropriate for John Grisham who is very involved in youth baseball.

It was great to read a new Grisham legal book - I'm looking forward to the next one :)

Nikki Leigh

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rhett Butler's People

I've read a bunch of the reviews complaining about this book. But, I have to tell you, I really enjoyed it. I love to read things which are (for the most part) historically correct. I like to learn about a specific time and place when I read a historic novel and I learned quite a bit in Rhett Butler's People. One of my future novels will have a blockade runner and I learned some interesting details while I was being entertained.

I really enjoyed Gone With the Wind, but Rhett was my favorite character and there were so many unanswered questions about him. Certainly, there are a million possibilities for his story, but I enjoyed this take on the story. I think the author did a wonderful job of tying the stories together and maintaining the characters and setting.

It was nice to get to know Rhett's family and Bell's family. I did have a little trouble with the story jumping around in the first few chapters, but once I got into it -- I really enjoyed it. It was also nice how the author tied pieces of the story to Gone With the Wind, but it was redundant.

All in all, I think the book was very well done and I am now digging Jacob's Ladder off my shelf to read soon.