Tag: #bookreview

“Maladies & Medicine” by Jennifer Evans & Sara Read

“Maladies & Medicine” by Jennifer Evans & Sara Read

Exploring Health & Healing 1540-1740

Calling all medical historians! I have a little gem here for you. In “Maladies & Medicine” the authors explore the most common complaints of this early modern period and what type of treatments were available to patients at the time. The book is organized in a similar way to how the medical textbooks of the time were arranged. There are four parts, head complaints, abdominal maladies, whole body ailments, and reproductive maladies. Each part is then broken down into common ailments such as headaches, disorderly bowels, gout, and greensickness. While the chapters are relatively short, they are full of information often using quotes from medical texts of the time to explain the maladies and their treatments. Some of these ailments we find have disappeared in our time, smallpox, for instance, while others continue into modern times.

I found this book to be very interesting. It was well organized and covered a wide variety of medical maladies. It is in places a bit gross and I wouldn’t recommend reading this while eating. I also thought that some of the treatments that patients were willing to endure were quite shocking. In addition to the herbal type remedies you would expect from this time period, there were also treatments involving cow dung, and earthworms appeared far too often for my taste. Finally, I appreciated that the authors took the time at the beginning of the book to delineate what the theories of medicine were at the time and how those theories affected the way that doctors treated their patients.  A fascinating and well-presented piece of history.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

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“Weekend at Thrackley” by Alan Melville

“Weekend at Thrackley” by Alan Melville

When Jim Henderson receives and invitation to a weekend party at Thrackley Manor in rural Surrey, he has no idea how it will change his life. Henderson finds himself as one of a party of six being hosted by the reclusive and mysterious Edwin Carson. Carson is known to be a jewel collector and everyone but Jim is dripping with them making Jim wonder why he was invited. Then he meets Carson’s daughter Mary and discovers that the chauffeur is really an undercover Scotland Yard man sent there to investigate Carson. Will Henderson and his friend be able uncover the truth, will the guests ever be allowed to leave the house, and does Mary like Jim as much as he likes her?

This book has been re-published as part of the British Library Crime Classics. Set in the 1930’s this is a charming little mystery. Jim Henderson is a handsome and appealing young man with a mind for details and an insatiable curiosity. Though not from a privileged background, he behaves like a perfect gentleman. Mary Carson is a bit of a mystery in the beginning but her courage is the key to unlocking this mystery. I thought the author did a great job of creating the atmosphere for this mystery. His descriptions take the reader right into the house and gardens and keeps you engaged. The story moved at a very comfortable pace and I had some difficulty putting this one down. This is a great example of the classic British crime novel.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

“Fatal Evidence” by Helen Barrell

“Fatal Evidence” by Helen Barrell

Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor & the Dawn of Forensic Science

Attention CSI fans! This book is for you. Helen Barrell gives readers the opportunity to uncover the very beginnings of forensic science. We take it for granted nowadays that poison can be detected with a blood test, that stomach contents can be analyzed to help determine cause of death, and that autopsies are routinely performed. But where did all this testing get it’s start? Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor, a British physician and scientist in the 1800’s, was a pivotal figure in the development of forensic science. In fact, he wrote the textbook on the subject. The author, in this book, documents Taylor’s life from his birth till his death and skillfully recounts the cases he participated in which pushed forward the science of jurisprudence.

I found this book to very well written and in such a way that is approachable and easy to follow for even a casual reader. Taylor’s passion for his work is evident throughout the book. One of things I most liked about Taylor is that he wasn’t in it for the accolades he received but because he genuinely wanted to improve the science both for the improvement of public health and the prosecution of crime. I was also impressed by how often he used collaborators as a check to his own conclusions. This is a fascinating look at an easily forgotten key figure in the field of forensics. I highly recommend.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“The Crooked Staircase” by Dean Koontz

“The Crooked Staircase” by Dean Koontz

A Jane Hawk Novel #3

Looking for non-stop action? Look no further. Reading a Jane Hawk book is like riding a roller-coaster, in a good way. Jane is still hot on the trail of the conspirators who are taking over people’s minds. As she gets closer, the danger begins to spread to those closest to her. But Jane has a way to turn the tables. Armed with the mind control device, Jane uses one of their own against the conspirators and unravels some of their darkest secrets. Meanwhile, those being controlled continue to wreak havoc, and Jane’s son is hidden from view. Can Jane bring these people down, or will they get to her and her loved ones first?

This continues to be a compelling series that feels like it’s all too real. Jane is like a one-man army as she continues to undermine the organization while staying just under their radar. We get to know her son a little more in this book and he is a great kid. As usual, there is a cast of side characters, good and bad, who make Jane’s work possible. I especially enjoyed the Shukla twins in this one. I continue to be surprised by the complexity of the plot in these books. Dean Koontz is a best-selling author for good reason. His stories are carefully crafted and his characters are well-developed and believable. I am a huge fan of this series and can’t wait for book 4 later this year.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“In Pursuit of Dragons” by Anne Renwick

“In Pursuit of Dragons” by Anne Renwick

An Elemental Web Tale Book 4

Dragons, Steampunk, Romance, Sword Fights! What more could you ask for in a fantasy book? “In Pursuit of Dragons” is the latest installment from Anne Renwick. In this one we have Russian born Natalia who was forced into a loveless marriage and locked away in a castle in Scotland. This is intended to protect her and the dragon under her care. Now she is alone and dragon hunters are battering down the door. Suddenly, a man from the past appears, but does he bring hope for the future or is danger following his every step?

Let’s just start with the cover, because I just love this one. The colors on this one really caught my eye and drew me in to the story. Characters: Natalia is so likeable and I couldn’t help but be sympathetic of her situation. She’s also a mighty warrior when it comes to protecting her own and she’s not willing to be pushed around by men anymore. Luke is handsome, charming and determined to be with Natalia. Kia is my favorite character in this story. She is fiercely protective when she needs to be but also very loving. I found the story to be original and innovative. There are some very interesting twists throughout and I had a really hard time putting this down. Anne Renwick has once again created a story that is charming and romantic and full of fascinating science references. I have yet to be disappointed by this author and look forward to many more.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century” by Mallory James

“Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century” by Mallory James

Ever wondered how ladies and gentlemen are supposed to behave? You will find all the answers in this book. The author breaks the subject down into categories such as dining, meeting on the street, and attending a ball. She walks the reader through a look at the nineteenth century as viewed through the etiquette books of the time. And the rules changed just about every decade. After reading this book, I feel like it would have been a full time job just to keep up with the rules and of course, the exceptions to the rules. Does it really matter who enters the dining room first? In the nineteenth century it mattered a lot and if not done right could leave with a reputation of being rude and undesirable at social gatherings. And please don’t show up at your neighbor’s house with mud on the hem of your skirt, even in London. This book is just full of little bits of formality that will make you glad you leave in the 21st century. I was also surprised though by how many of the rules continue today but in a watered down way. This is a great book for those interested in social history.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-star-rating  4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“A Gentleman’s Murder” by Christopher Huang

“A Gentleman’s Murder” by Christopher Huang

London, the 1920’s. The first World War is over but the after-effects are still being felt. Especially among the men who survived, many of whom are now members of the Britannia Club. Eric Peterkin is one of these men. The men of his family have been members since the club originated and they have all been highly respected by their peers. Eric has just recently been admitted and is still adjusting to civilian life after serving in Flanders during the war. One evening another new member makes a wager with one of the board members that the club’s vault cannot be broken into. Unfortunately for him, he will end up dead by morning on the floor of that same vault. Eric can’t help but notice some suspicious things going on with the investigation and decides to look into the matter himself. This may turn out to be more dangerous than war.

This story has a very clever plot line that definitely makes the reader work to figure out who the culprit is. The story also really captures the time period of the mid-1920’s. Eric Peterkin is a very likable character, young and handsome. His sister Penny, though, was my favorite. She is a secondary character but I found her absolutely delightful. There are a whole host of former military men involved in this mystery and each has a unique personality and story which adds depth to the story. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is the periodic flashbacks to the war. I found the descriptions to be disturbing, though they did add to my understanding of the story and the characters. So, if you are sensitive about such topics you might not enjoy this book. However, if you enjoy historical mysteries I think this is a good one for you.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“The Naked Nuns” by Colin Watson

“The Naked Nuns” by Colin Watson

Are there really nuns running around naked in Flaxborough? Suspicious, coded letters have been received by the police which point to a murder soon to be committed in Flaxborough. Word comes down to Inspector Purbright and he begins the thankless search for who the victim is to be. Meanwhile, a local businessman receives a threatening letter. He is offered protection but doesn’t seem to take the situation very seriously. Then there’s the suspicious character who turns up at Miss Teatime’s. A friend of a friend he claims to be, but when his dark past comes to light he is suspect #1. When it all comes to a head, all the answers will be revealed.

This is book 8 in the Flaxborough Mysteries series. I think this is my least favorite story so far. While the writing is classic Colin Watson, I found the story overall to be kind of messy and it felt like it could have been structured a little better. That being said, all my favorite characters are back: Inspector Purbright, Seargeant Love, Miss Teatime and Chief Constable Chubb. The secondary characters didn’t seem as compelling as in some of the other books. Overall, I found this one a little disappointing.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  3-5-star-rating 3.5 stars!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

“Death, Disease & Dissection” by Suzie Grogan

“Death, Disease & Dissection” by Suzie Grogan

The life of a Surgeon-Apothecary 1750 – 1850

It’s time for another corner of history. In this book Suzie Grogan explores the history of the Surgeon-Apothecary. The period 1750 – 1850 was a pivotal one in the development of the roles of Surgeon and the Apothecary. Prior to 1750 there was no formal training required for either one, but during this time the official association were formed, licensing was introduced, qualification exams were created, and the roles of these professional men were defined in the communities.

I think the author has done a wonderful job of researching the topic and presenting the history of the profession, and biographical information on some of the most influential Surgeon-Apothecaries of the period. There is also discussion in the book on what kind of ailments these men were able to treat and some of the remedies they had available to them. The author also presents a discussion of the “Quacks” and their “remedies” as well. This book is well organized and full of fascinating information on the topic.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“Gods of Howl Mountain” by Taylor Brown

“Gods of Howl Mountain” by Taylor Brown

Rory has returned from the Korean war having lost one leg while there. He’s living with his grandmother on Howl Mountain. Rory’s history is troubled. He was born to an unwed mother while she was in a psychiatric facility, a facility she continues to live in. His grandmother raised me on the mountain, making a living for them by providing traditional remedies to the community. Rory is making money by running whiskey for family friend Eustace. Then Rory has a run-in with the Muldoons, who threaten his life, the county sheriff, who threatens his liberty, and the beautiful Christine, who turns his heart upside down.

This is a beautifully crafted story of life in the mountains of North Carolina. The author carefully reveals to us the challenges that Rory faces as he tries to build a life for himself and deal with the scars, physical and emotional, left him by the war. The descriptions in this story are rich and full of color, and they really draw you into the environment of Howl Mountain. The characters are each unique and complex, hiding a variety of secrets and revealing very little. The story reveals how government actions in the mountains have affected the lives and spirits of the people who live there, and how sometimes the mountain is more menacing than beautiful. This is a story of survival and a story of hope.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-5-star-rating  4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website