Sunday, May 17, 2009

Willing Spirits by Phyllis Schieber

Are you the kind of person who enjoys reading about friendships between women? Many women are the best of friends and they insist that they couldn't get through life without those friendship. If this sounds familiar to you -- this is a book you have to read. I'm not a fan of chick lit - and Phyllis' books have been called chick lit - but I don't agree. Schieber's books are about mature women who are in their 40s or 50s and they have accomplished a lot in their lives - and they have also had their share of difficulties.

In Willing Spirits we meet two friends who are in their 40s and their children are grown and have gone off to college. One (Jane) is married - although she is unhappy. The other (Jane) raised her sons alone because her husband walked out when the boys were very young.

Jane discovers her husband in bed with a younger woman and once the shock and anger wear off - she realizes that she doesn't want to be with him anymore. Her friend, Gwen, is there to support her.

As the story progresses we see the many dimensions of their friendship. We meet their children, mothers, significant others and many other people as these women work their way through their lives. Should a 40 something woman be alone when she isn't married? Is it all right to be involved with a younger man? What should she do when her 20 something daughter finds them in bed together? Is it all right to have an affair with a married man? If he leaves his wife - does that mean he will or that he should live with his mistress? How do grown sons handle their mother and her married lover? And - how can these women juggle their responsibilities and still be true to herself?

These are just some of the answers you will find in this book. You will laugh, you will cry, you will nod at the things that are familiar and you may even raise your eyebrows in surprise - but if you like stories about women, their lives and their friendships - you will enjoy Willings Spirits by Phyllis Schieber.

Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

This is the second novel in the Body Farm series. I really like this series - I will tell you this isn't my favorite book in the series - but it leads into the 3rd which is very good.

Dr Bill Brockton (based on Dr Bill Bass) is back and facing an interesting combination of situations, people and mysteries. We meet a very attractive medical examiner who is also attracted to Dr Brockton and Dr Bill unearths some rotten apples within his acquaintances. He takes the high road and must point out the error and that sets a gruesome and danger set of events in motion.

I won't give you the details -- wouldn't want to ruin the book for you - but there is plenty of action and Dr Bill is even arrested for the murder.... of his lady love. I recommend this book because you should keep up with the series - and even less than stellar from this team is good. There is great forensic detail and plenty of intrigue to keep you wondering what will happen next....

Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore

I was so excited about being asked to work on the promotional campaign for Julianne Moore's new book - Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully.

One of the obvious reasons is because I've heard great things about Julianne Moore.

Another reason is that I've had a great friend since we were about 7 or 8 who has red hair and I remember that he hated it while we were growing up. Now he has a daughter with beautiful red hair.

The other reason is because I've had people pick on me for years for an unusual name (real name, not pen name), I've always been tall and have been 6'1 since I was 13 and I had braces for years. So, I can understand the tough time Freckleface has.

I think its great that Julianne has used her childhood experiences in a way that will help children deal with the things that make them different. Hopefully this story can also help other children understand that they should not pick on people just because they are different. We're all different from one another - we're so much better off if we appreciate the differences, but it seems that is hard for some people.

One rainy morning - Freckleface goes to Early Bird at her school. She loves Early Bird - but Windy Pants Patrick is also there and he's a bully. He picks on all the children - what will Freckleface Strawberry do?

Come along with Freckleface and see what she does in the face of a school bully.

I highly recommend this book for parents and their children. It give parents or other important adults a great opportunity to help children talk about how to deal with bullies and people who pick on them. Its also a great chance to teach children tolerance and caring about others.

LeUyen Pham is back to illustrate this second book in the Freckleface Strawberry series.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beyond the Body Farm by Dr Bill Bass & Jon Jefferso

I have to read everything that this fantastic duo turn out. I was intrigued with Dr Bass and his work - but meeting Dr Bass and Jon Jefferson in person sealed the deal for me. Anything they write - I will have to read :) The full title of this book is Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries and the Revolution in Forensic Science. That is a mouthful - but it does say it all.

This is the 2nd non fiction collaboration for Dr Bass and Jon - the first was Death's Acre (read my review here -

Both of these books are about Dr Bass' experiences as a bone detective. For people who aren't familiar with Dr Bass - years ago he started The Body Farm (made popular by a Patricia Cornwell novel). The Body Farm is a research facility at the University of Tennessee where Dr Bass worked for years. In his work he discovered that people could determine the time of death with more accuracy by studying the decomposition of the body - so he started a facility where they would study - body decomposition.

This may not sound glamorous - and its not. However through the pages of Death's Acre and Beyond the Body Farm - you will learn why this is important information and how it can help law enforcement, the legal community and the family of the victims and people who are falsely accused of crimes.

Learn about plane crashes into rivers, an ancient mystery,the smallest clues in the bones, bite marks, the importance of bugs, the long term search to identify a skeleton and much more including exhuming the body of The Big Bopper. Its all here and if you are interested in forensics and forensic anthropology or a good mystery - this book is for you. Take a walk through the interesting career of this knowledgable and charismatic professional. If you have the chance to meet Dr Bass and/or Jon Jefferson - I highly recommend that you do it.

I've also reviewed several of their novels which include forensic information Dr Bass gleaned through the years - they are very good :)