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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

happiness

Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, who spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard University, draws on his own research—including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard and others at companies like UBS and KPMG—to fix this broken formula. Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work.
Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, he shows us how we can capitalize on the Happiness Advantage to improve our performance and maximize our potential.

 

I was told about this book at a management seminar; almost immediately I ordered it from Amazon.

The author’s writing is clear and often self deprecatingly funny. He uses relevant stories to illustrate his points, and offers reasons that explain the “why” of why being happy makes things better.

Before I read this book, I was personally aware of a phenomenon in my own life: since changing jobs I was a lot happier, and things always seemed to go my way in that new job. This book seemed to be about my own life changes! We all have that mindset that “once I get this job, I’ll be happy”, and for me, it was the reverse. My job made me happy, and I had that spill over in the rest of my life. There were promotions, responsibilities, knowledge, and success for me. Was this all due to my happiness? Or was it my hard work that did it?

In any case; THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE should be required reading for anyone wondering how they can make their life better. Imagine a world where everyone was smiling at each other – Achor tells a story of how people became more engaged with each other as they took a moment to smile at and acknowledge their co-workers. This is similar to the management adage that the boss sets the tone of the office; if the boss comes in and is happy, the office is happy and more productive. This makes perfect sense and I’m quite sure this would work almost everywhere.

One of the great things about this book is that each chapter is a separate point. It’s easy to reach a chapter and then go out in the world to practice the tenets he puts forth. As  you get further into the book you will want to search your own life for signs of happiness, and then create more of it in your personal circle. It’s not a sappy self help book; it’s an encouraging way to look inward and understand the workings of your mind in such a way to truly make a change for the better.

Don’t have time to read? (Horrors!) You can also catch some TED talks with Shawn Achor – he is super personable and makes relevant points in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

You can pick up your copy here.

Dearly Ransomed Soul by April Taylor

dearly

Georgia Pattison, an early-music soprano with a nose for a mystery made her first appearance in the introductory novella Whistles After Dark. Now she is in action again in the first full-length mystery, Dearly Ransomed Soul.
Georgia finds herself in Worcester as a last-minute substitute soloist in the prestigious Three Choirs Festival. She also finds the body of Ariana Staithes, murdered in the cathedral immediately after her superlative performance as the Angel in Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius.
The method of murder speaks of deep hatred, but who would want this fantastic emerging talent dead? A lot of people as it turns out. And not just the musical ones. Her estranged husband? Her rival? A jealous wife? One of her blackmail victims? Is there anyone this woman has not alienated?
Superintendent Hamilton knows nothing of the musical world, but she does know this murder was planned and, Georgia, being a latecomer, is innocent. Hamilton is also desperate. The festival is world-renowned and she is in the spotlight and under pressure.

Against every regulation, she persuades Georgia to help her. For Georgia, the investigation starts as something of a crossword puzzle game, but soon she finds herself floundering in a mesh of confusion with suspects at every turn as the mystery deepens and her position becomes fraught with danger. Can she find the killer before the killer finds her?

 

Many thanks to Publishing Push for this review copy!

The world of murder mysteries can get a bit weary as the same-old continues. Not so in this unique story! The backdrop of choir singers makes it a fun and educational read.

The plot seems simple enough – a drama loving diva is murdered immediately after giving the best performance of her life. Almost everyone surrounding her has a motive, making the case rather difficult for the local police. Our heroine, Georgia Pattison, is willing to help out any way she can, like an operatic Nancy Drew. That is where the fun begins! Many characters provide red herrings galore, while the author gets to show off her considerable knowledge of choir singers and music. Georgia is no shrinking violet, and takes to her role like a duck to water (soprano to a solo?).

The descriptions of Worcester cathedral and musical terms force you to slow down and truly enjoy the writing. The author is keen to display the surroundings, along with Georgia’s inner monologues in a thoroughly enjoyable way. Definitely not the same-old here!

Best of all, Georgia is not one to hold back, either in word or deed. She plunges into the fray wholeheartedly, disregarding any danger she may encounter along the way. Other gifts for the reader are the many composers and songs noted as the book progresses. There are links provided in the e-book (quite thoughtful) so the reader can listen and learn to the songs mentioned. I thought this was an impressive way to make the experience multi-dimensional; as you listen to the music the story comes alive.

Brava! to the author for giving us a great start to this brand new series. You can pick up your copy here.

Splintrod by D. Gordon Tyson

splintrod

A young Betsey Stratfork is enjoying her childhood when she is involved in a tragic auto accident that destroys her legs. Despite her handicap and the lack of compassion from the driver, she excels in school and earns her medical degree. She pursues a career in a new field of medicine known as bone manipulation. Now, as Dr. Stratfork, she develops groundbreaking devices and procedures that improve the lives of many patients. In the course of her life, living in constant pain, she is subjected to repeated instances of discrimination. Learning of a life-threatening event, she snaps. In her anger-fueled psychosis, she turns to the dark-side and uses her SplintRod invention to inflict horrific pain and suffering.

 

 

Thanks to Word Slinger Publicity for offering this book in exchange for a review!

SPLINTROD is a wildly uneven but gripping tale about a doctor who loses her mind and seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. I alternately felt sorry for, then despised Dr Wilfork for her actions. Towards the end of the story I decided that my dominant emotion was pity, as long as I didn’t think too hard about the victims.

The fact that this is the author’s first book is evident: the writing style is a bit rough around the edges, he spends just a tad too much time describing the many characters, and some of the transitions between scenes are awkward. Some of the characters are one dimensional, and even Dr Wilfork could have been fleshed out a bit more.

The storyline and action is edge-of-your-seat wonderful, however. Once you get past the unpolished writing style, the drama grabs you and keeps you reading, because you just don’t know what is going to happen next. Medical thrillers are the best, because you know you will encounter depraved people and intense procedures, plus lots of blood. The creation of the Splintrod device is devilish genius – and the perfect way for the good doctor to torture and maim the innocent. The author’s descriptions of how the machine is misused are cringeworthy and totally believable.

The plot brings up an interesting moral point – was the revenge proper? Were the victims selected correctly? Some may say no, that the actual perpetrators of pain upon Dr Wilfork should have been the ones feeling the pain. However, there is mental pain and physical pain; both kinds are visited upon the innocent and the guilty alike.

The author’s strength lies in his ability to manipulate the reader’s emotions. As I mentioned before, I would vacillate between disgust and vicarious pleasure as the victims were tortured. There was disgust because of the maiming and killing that occurred. However, the victims were also portrayed to be arrogant and self-centered, with some of their actions bearing that out. At times it became easy to despise them and all that they stood for. But strip all that away, and at the end they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With the proper editing, SPLINTROD could be a five star book. The author has a great capacity for plot development; he just needs to smooth out the bumps in the road. I did enjoy this book, and I’d love to know what you think about it. You can pick up your copy here.

Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever by Caleb Pirtle III

friday-nights

The dream of college football propels Casey Clinton into the best and worst times of his life. On Friday nights in Avalon, Alabama, football reigns supreme. Quarterback Casey Clinton’s magic arm drives recruiters and his opponents wild. Girls worship him. A preacher’s wife seduces him. Life can’t be any better. But when slick college football recruiters offer the small-town high school player the chance for fame and glory, it’s no longer a game. It’s business. And it’s brutal. Lavish promises of money, women, and a spot at the top of the football world take Casey into a violent world he could never imagine. Temptation is great. His life spirals out of control. His world crumbles out from under him. Football is no longer a sport. It’s a fight for survival in a game where everyone but Casey knows how to play.

Many thanks to All Reviews Matter for gifting me this book for review!

Many things make this book a winner.

The first is the authentic Southern atmosphere that pervades every word and scene of FRIDAY NIGHTS. You can hear the drawl in the voices, and sense the underlying desperation of the players as they worship the only god they know – football.

Second is the multi layered character development – of Casey, Chelsea, Lucas, and the attitudes and actions of the rest of the townspeople. The pressure that is put on these confused teenagers is immense, and is echoed all over the South on any given Friday. The author knows this, and uses it to his advantage to create a deeply moving story that uses contrasting backgrounds to spin the plot forward.

These characters could have been easily written as a stereotype – but Pirtle makes them so much more. He makes them earnest and believable, easy to root for and to hate. Some characters, like Lucas, force you to vacillate between emotions: sadness because of his upbringing, scorn because of how he treats others.

Third is the fascinating backdrop of the cutthroat world of college football. Reading about Casey getting call after call from colleges promising him everything while denigrating other schools in the same breath made me realize just how much manipulation is done in the name of a winning season.

The author’s writing style is clean, yet raw – no extra words or filler here, just emotion, suffering and hope. It didn’t take me long to become immersed in the microcosm of Avalon, Alabama.

Especially cringe-worthy is the scene where Casey meets the great Alabama coach Frank Hatchett at the airport, thinking he is always at the forefront of Hatchett’s mind. The coach’s asides to his traveling companions show just how far from the truth his (and other coaches’) machinations can be. I felt truly naïve after reading this – and will never be able to watch college football again without thinking of this book.

Think of this as a companion to the classic movie ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, and likewise the classic novel FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Life can be excruciating when you see only one chance to make your life matter – and the choices you make in order for that to happen can be unforgiving.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable – you can grab your copy here.

Tales of Greed, Scandal & Mayhem from Colin Goodwin

dont-get-mad

Don’t Get Mad Get Even

“Really enjoyed this book. If you like the ‘Agatha Raisin’ series by M. C Beaton then you’ll love this series too. Can’t wait for the next one.” – Wendy Taylor 5/5 on Amazon
As the cricket season starts, so do the shenanigans…

Life is tranquil in the quintessentially English village of Throttle – until the local cricket team receives a devilish demand.

When industrialist and landowner Sir Alfred Bullock is laid up, his devious son Roland, devises a get-rich-quick scheme. He gives an ultimatum to the cricket club: win a trophy by the end of the season or we take back the ground you play on and sell it for development.

In a desperate attempt to win games and hold on to the pitch, the club enlists the help of a professional whose skills – to the delight of the local ladies – extend far beyond the cricket Field.

Roland, together with an unscrupulous estate agent and two dodgy builders, hatches malicious plans to ensure the team loses its games. Meanwhile, village residents whose houses are devalued by being on the perimeter of the pitch take matters into their own hands to ‘fix’ the club’s failure…

Greed, scandal, tragedy and farce ensue as the cricket club fights for survival against increasingly dangerous sabotage…

Click here to purchase!

 

when-in-holeWhen in a Hole, Stop Digging

An ordinary day in a sleepy village deteriorates into chaos.

Livid boat owner Albert vows revenge after a humiliating event, and shocked residents of a brand new housing estate mysteriously find fish in the plumbing.

A heartless double murderer on the loose and a gun-toting farmer send shivers through the town of Throttle as two amateur sleuths try to make sense of it all.

Meanwhile a pair of sixties throwback detectives attempt to piece it all together, but in reality make matters worse.

The local free press needs a story fast, but the novice reporters get a shock as they enter a world far beyond their capability.

Finally, one resident, pushed to the edge by a marital issue, sinks to a new low.

The mayhem continues…..

Click here to purchase!

Author bio

Colin Goodwin enjoyed a successful career as a welding and fabrication engineer, working in the aircraft industry and welder training for the oil industry.  For the past twenty years he worked in further education, where he also taught stained glass window making.

In the late 80’s he built and fitted out a 40 foot steel narrow-boat, but sold it because it was not fast enough.  He maintains an active lifestyle and has completed London marathons and Great North Runs.  Both Colin and his wife now prefer to go on long distance cycling holidays. Retired 6 years ago, Colin continues to indulge his creative side by repairing anything mechanical, motorbikes (Harley Davidson, BSA, Royal Enfield), cars (1951 Ford Anglia) and model steam engines. The books are available through Amazon, all good book shops and from under the counter at The Hardware Store, in Padiham. The last in the trilogy ‘A Likely Story’ is currently nearing completion.

The Automation by Anonymous

automation

The capital-A Automatons of Greco-Roman myth aren’t clockwork. Their design is much more divine. They’re more intricate than robots or androids or anything else mortal humans could invent. Their windup keys are their human Masters. They aren’t mindless; they have infinite storage space. And, because they have more than one form, they’re more versatile and portable than, say, your cell phone—and much more useful too. The only thing these god-forged beings share in common with those lowercase-A automatons is their pre-programmed existence. They have a function—a function their creator put into place—a function that was questionable from the start…

Odys (no, not short for Odysseus, thank you) finds his hermetic lifestyle falling apart after a stranger commits suicide to free his soul-attached Automaton slave. The humanoid Automaton uses Odys’s soul to “reactivate” herself. Odys must learn to accept that the female Automaton is an extension of his body—that they are the same person—and that her creator-god is forging a new purpose for all with Automatons…

The novel calls itself a “Prose Epic,” but is otherwise a purposeful implosion of literary clichés and gimmicks: A Narrator and an Editor (named Gabbler) frame the novel. Gabbler’s pompous commentary (as footnotes) on the nameless Narrator’s story grounds the novel in reality. Gabbler is a stereotypical academic who likes the story only for its so-called “literary” qualities, but otherwise contradicts the Narrator’s claim that the story is true.
THE AUTOMATION is a this-world fantasy that reboots mythical characters and alchemical concepts. Its ideal place would be on the same bookshelf as Wilson’s ALIF THE UNSEEN and Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS—though it wouldn’t mind bookending Homer, Virgil, and Milton, to be specific.
And, yes, “B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler” are really just a pen name.

Thanks to the author for providing this review copy!

THE AUTOMATION will polarize its readers. Those who expect their books to deliver a story with a plot, who enjoy stories and plots, and who believe that novels ought to be constructed of stories and plots – those people will be repelled by THE AUTOMATION. Yes, the book does have a story to tell. There are plot lines. However, the plot lines are layered on top of one-another, and not side-by-side. The “author” is an unreliable narrator named B.L.A.. The story B.L.A. tells is contradicted throughout by annotations provided by an editor named “GB Gabbler,” who invites the reader to doubt the truthfulness of B.L.A.’s story with annotations that correct B.L.A.’s statements. GB often invites the reader to interpret the elements of the story as allegory, as symbolism, as anything but literal.

The two editorial forces at work in this title (both, for clarity’s sake, produced by the same anonymous author), will quickly leave many readers confused. Some will complain that they’ve read 100 pages, and not knowing what the facts are, can’t follow the story. The story itself, however, is not really the point. Just as the automaton around which the story revolves hoists an unfair responsibility on its human, and complicates its human’s ability to reckon with his own identity by complicating his ability to make an account of himself, the editorial voice in THE AUTOMATION hoists the very same responsibility upon its storytelling voice. B.L.A. could not share this story but for the existence of the editor, but this dependence complicates the very act of constructing that story. What the deity is for the humans and their automata, you become for the author and editor.

The point is not for you to enjoy a story. The point is for you to come out the other end of this book finding yourself in a unique position to consider questions about the ethics of editorial authority, the ethics of literary criticism, and the deep connection between our identities and our ability to make an account of our existence, and how that accounting is at the mercy of influences outside of our control. The allegory of author and editor, which asks you to consider that the story itself may be only an allegory, is itself the allegory.

As I suggested before, this book will not be a way for your mind to escape from the rigors of life. If taken seriously, it will thrust your mind more deeply into them, and then far below them, down to where lots of uncomfortable questions linger. The anonymous author leaves it to the reader to answer them.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here/easyazon_link].

 

Escape Clause by John Sandford (Virgil Flowers #9)

escape-clause

The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they’ve been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others — as Virgil is about to find out.
Then there’s the homefront. Virgil’s relationship with his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious, but when Frankie’s sister Sparkle moves in for the summer, the situation gets a lot more complicated. For one thing, her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched. For another…she thinks Virgil’s kind of cute.
“You mess around with Sparkle,” Frankie told Virgil, “you could get yourself stabbed.”
“She carries a knife?”
“No, but I do.”

Forget a storm – this one’s a tornado.

Many thanks to NetGalley for this review copy!

Seeing a new John Sandford book on the shelf is always a thrill, and even more so when it’s a Flowers outing. Sandford’s Davenport character is well written, but Flowers is truly a joy to experience. It seems to me that the author permits himself to really cut loose in writing about Virgil’s exploits; his writing seems to mirror Carl Hiaasen’s more than his own.

That being said, I love Carl Hiaasen. His character development ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, and so it goes here with ESCAPE CLAUSE.

The main bad guy is a disgraced doctor who pops Xanax like M&M’s. The other bad guys are truly caricatures of villains, even down to how they meet their untimely demise. In fact, I would say that this book by far is the most gory and strange Virgil story yet.

It starts out normal enough: our hero is asked to track down two missing tigers from the Minneapolis zoo. Once he starts shaking the tree, all sorts of things start falling out. We learn about the dark side of traditional Chinese medicine, and also experience a sub plot with wild characters as well – Virgil’s girlfriend has a sister named Sparkle who is dating a priest.

Don’t let the rollicking crazies fool you – this is a serious mystery that will keep you turning the pages. Even though we know whodunit already, seeing them brought to justice (or not) is captivating. Virgil is getting tired of handling animal cases (remember the dognappers from a previous book?) but he throws his all into tracking these rare tigers down with a fervor that will delight the most sensitive animal lover. He truly has fun while on the job, and it shows.

ESCAPE CLAUSE can be read as a standalone novel, but fans of Virgil will delight in all the in-jokes and references to previous adventures. Sandford keeps getting better and better. This was one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

Night School by Lee Child (Jack Reacher #21)

nightschool

It’s 1996, and Reacher is still in the army. In the morning they give him a medal, and in the afternoon they send him back to school. That night he’s off the grid. Out of sight, out of mind.
Two other men are in the classroom—an FBI agent and a CIA analyst. Each is a first-rate operator, each is fresh off a big win, and each is wondering what the hell they are doing there.
Then they find out: A Jihadist sleeper cell in Hamburg, Germany, has received an unexpected visitor—a Saudi courier, seeking safe haven while waiting to rendezvous with persons unknown. A CIA asset, undercover inside the cell, has overheard the courier whisper a chilling message: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.”
For what? And who from? Reacher and his two new friends are told to find the American. Reacher recruits the best soldier he has ever worked with: Sergeant Frances Neagley. Their mission heats up in more ways than one, while always keeping their eyes on the prize: If they don’t get their man, the world will suffer an epic act of terrorism.
From Langley to Hamburg, Jalalabad to Kiev, Night School moves like a bullet through a treacherous landscape of double crosses, faked identities, and new and terrible enemies, as Reacher maneuvers inside the game and outside the law.

 

Many thanks to NetGalley for this review copy!

This is Jack Reacher’s 21st outing, and it’s a throwback this time. He is teamed up with Sgt Frances Neagley to try to figure out what a cryptic message (“The American wants a hundred million dollars”) means.  Fans of Reacher will know what happens: he is perspicacious enough to figure out clues, he vanquishes bad guys with a sharp elbow to the head, and is quietly sexy to certain women. Nothing new here.

As much as I love a great Reacher story, this one seemed a bit dry.

There wasn’t enough real action and there was too much switching back and forth from one criminal cell to another. Somehow the subplots and double crosses were overly complicated to me, and it was hard to keep track of who was double crossing who.

I also found it inconceivable that Reacher was making such mental leaps to connect certain dots. There was a CIA agent that seemed superfluous, and an FBI agent that was only minimal help. There was no real sense of true struggle or suspense throughout the book; I was merely curious what the hundred million dollars was going towards. Once that came to light, probably about 80% of the way through, then I became interested in the outcome.

Remember the scene from The Matrix when Neo finally realizes he is The One, and is fighting Agent Smith with one hand while Smith ineffectually flails about? Neo is calmly standing there using one hand, countering and blocking everything Smith throws at him. That is what I was thinking of as I read NIGHT SCHOOL. Reacher is Neo, phoning it in while other great minds drool and get in the way.

There is a saying: There is no bad pizza. Perhaps; it would then follow that there would be no bad Reacher books. I have yet to find one that I really hated, but this one was probably the biggest disappointment. The plot itself held promise to be a thriller, but Child took way too long to get to the meat of the story. There were sub plots, and meta-sub-plots and minimally described characters that didn’t hold my interest.

Perhaps if you read this without high expectations, you won’t be disappointed. All in all, it wasn’t a complete waste of my time (see pizza = Reacher above), but not the best use either.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can pick up your copy here.

 

 

The Ripper Awakens by Ellie DeFarr

ripper

Six women dead at the hands of a brutal killer, and she’s next on his list!

Hurting from the death of a good friend, PI Hera Hunter has taken up residence in the mountain village of Rosewood. There, within a cabin owned by her foster parents, she finds solitude and peace. But not for long. After a local barmaid is murdered, Sheriff’s Deputy Mitch Haygarth concludes it’s the work of a serial killer who’s been terrorizing a small town thirty miles away. The killer has a taste for victims who share Hera’s physical traits. On a dark night thick with fog, the killer crosses Hera’s path, setting in motion a cat-and-mouse game between two dangerous adversaries. Both are accustomed to violence. Each is determined. But only one will survive.

Many thanks to the author for gifting me this ARC!

Our favorite private investigator is trying to find peace and quiet after the brutal murder of a good friend. All she wants is to be left alone with her thoughts, as she mourns and heals. However, her sense for justice is awakened as she learns of a serial killer targeting women in a nearby town.

Hera’s erstwhile companion Lucky is still sniffing out danger and giving comfort to those who need it. One of my main reasons that DeFarr is one of my favorite authors is her ability to make Lucky come alive in his actions. He is always polite as Hera brings him along to a restaurant or a bar, yet never hesitates to jump in with a growl if Hera is threatened.

RIPPER has a few plotlines happening at the same time; there are a few shady characters that Hera needs to get to know better; she is also back in contact with people from her past, causing an emotional reaction; and the body count is increasing as the murderer continues his spree.

The mayor of Rosewood is especially interested to have Hera solve the murders – but when she starts looking into his background she finds a few unsavory things! Almost all the characters in the book have skeletons in their closet – and it’s only a matter of time until Hera uncovers them.

She is still emotionally unstable due to the loss of her best friend – she is feeling both guilt that it was her fault, plus she is trying to deal with the sense of loss. As a result, Hera is somewhat different in this installment, personality wise. She is off her game, so to speak – but this makes her a kinder, gentler person. This is purely inadvertent on her part, and I’m curious to see if this changes in the next book. She lets people speak without interrupting them, she appears to be listening, and she keeps her temper in check. You can definitely tell that Hera is not herself. This is not to say she is a pushover. She continues to be fearless, sneaking into houses and searching for clues despite the constant threat of danger. Hera is awesome that way; she will take up for the helpless and hopeless and try to find them justice. She may be in need of help herself, but puts others first.

One thing of note that stuck out in my head; one of the murder victims is a girl from Hera’s past. She and Hera were involved in a fist fight years ago, yet everyone remembers the victim as a sweet girl and Hera as the bully. I would have liked to hear more (even as a flashback) of how this disparity came to be. Hera expresses dismay and confusion every time she hears others reminisce about how the victim was such a wonderful person, but the whole backstory really never gets fleshed out.

Otherwise, THE RIPPER AWAKENS is another well written, easily devoured book by Ellie DeFarr. I am curious to see if DeFarr brings Hera back to Centreville or if she will travel off to a new town and new adventure. No matter where she goes, I know she will be seeking justice for someone!

Want your own copy? You can pick it uphere.

 

Being A Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

being-a-dog

Alexandra Horowitz, the author of the lively, highly informativeNew York Times bestselling blockbuster Inside of a Dog, explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ—the nose—and how we humans can put our under-used sense of smell to work in surprising ways.
To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every breath of air is loaded with information. In fact, what every dog—the tracking dog, of course, but also the dog lying next to you, snoring, on the couch—knows about the world comes mostly through his nose.
In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a research scientist in the field of dog cognition and the author of the runaway bestseller Inside of a Dog, unpacks the mystery of a dog’s worldview as has never been done before.
With her family dogs, Finnegan and Upton, leading the way, Horowitz sets off on a quest to make sense of scents, combining a personal journey of smelling with a tour through the cutting edge and improbable science behind the olfactory powers of the dog. From revealing the spectacular biology of the dog snout, to speaking to other cognitive researchers and smell experts across the country, to visiting detection-dog training centers and even attempting to smell-train her own nose, Horowitz covers the topic of noses—both canine and human—from surprising, novel, and always fascinating angles.
As we come to understand how complex the world around us appears to the canine nose, Horowitz changes our perspective on dogs forever. Readers will finish this book feeling that they have smelled into a fourth dimension—breaking free of human constraints and understanding smell as never before; that they have, however fleetingly, been a dog.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC!

I’ll have to start this review off by noting the dog’s nose is my favorite part.  I love the wetness, the chilly touch, and the sniffing noises that emanate from it. Imagine my glee when I saw this book’s subject!

Once again, Horowitz does not fail to enthrall with her smooth writing style and excellent wordplay.  She starts off the book explaining the anatomy of the nose; then we discover why dogs have a better sense of smell than humans. The idea of being a “supersmeller” intrigues the author so much that she tries to develop this sense more. We then read about “sniff walks” and find out that in order to really get a good whiff of things, you need to bend down and put your nose where it counts. As she describes her sniff walk, we learn that in the beginning, smells may not be obvious, but at the end, after you have trained your nose and psyche to recognize and name scents, they are everywhere.

The background of scent is also discussed at length, with perfumers and dog trainers weighing in. Puppies training to be police sniffers or rescue dogs are slowly molded to track scent and find missing people. Horowitz does research by sniffing jars of unknown smells, and then has to attempt to put a name to them (a lot harder than it sounds). I was amazed to hear how her own sense of smell grew stronger with practice. It does seem to go hand in hand – practice makes perfect – but I was fascinated to read the variety of scents she was able to comprehend. It made me want to go out and practice my own sniffing!

The author’s love and admiration of dogs shines through, especially when she is using her own canines as an example. She is even surprised when one of her dogs excels at sniff work, once he trains himself to truly distance himself from his domesticity and embrace his natural canine being.  This part gave me pause: we take our dogs out for a walk, but how many times do we yank them away from a tree or dubious pile of something in the street? We walk to cover ground; they walk to read scent and learn what – or who – has gone before them.

The art of sniffing is described as well, much to my appreciation. We learn the best way to pull a smell in; and also why dogs may use one nostril vs another. The sense of smell is mostly a bastard child; it’s the one least discussed and is usually the one chosen in the game of “if you had to lose one of your senses, which one would it be”.  Scent is truly underrated. I fully agree. Anyone who has ever tried to eat while suffering a stuffy nose will understand that scent and taste go hand in hand.

Horowitz has done a fantastic job bringing this body function to the forefront of our awareness. I challenge you to read this and not try to sniff out more things around you, even if only for a day.

BEING A DOG is a must read for lovers of both dogs and scientific things – you can pick up your copy here.

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