The Man in the Lighthouse: Erik Valeur

New Year’s Day, 2015, most folks celebrated. However, in Denmark, the Prime Minister & his brother were receiving devastating news. Their mother, known as the Widow Blegman, had vanished from her nursing home. Investigating the case is Denmark’s premiere police official known simply as the Homicide Boss. But, in order to solve her very peculiar disappearance, he’ll need to work backward. Delving into the past is seldom a pleasant task. But, the Widow is tied to a number of very shady events and these events will rock Denmark to its core.

Meanwhile, a man named Viggo Larssen, who lives in a lighthouse is struggling with a peculiar mystery of his own. He is haunted by a mysterious dream and the unsolved death of his own mother. During his childhood, he was tied to the Blegman Dynasty by geography, having been their longtime neighbor. His childhood was far from pleasant and he has suffered for most of his life as an outcast, persecuted for his appearance and eccentricities. None of his memories are fond ones. When he hears of the Widow’s disappearance, he’s taken back to that time via memory lane.

By exploring the years of Viggo’s life, from the 70’s to the present, we see how his life crosses with the Widow’s and her family. Transferring from past to present, we meet Viggo’s four closest childhood friends. Each has a reason to hate the Blegmans & to seek revenge. Each also has good reason to hold a grudge on one another. While Viggo tries admirably to find his own mental stability, the Homicide Boss most work quickly to discover how an elderly woman disappeared from a locked room without a trace.

In ‘The Man in the Lighthouse’, Erik Valuer does a masterful job of blending multiple storylines together, creating a perfectly plausible, yet mystifying mystery. Using a different character to narrate each chapter worked elegantly here. It’s a risky move to write this way, but Valuer had no trouble making it work. Our author tackled so many different social issues it makes your head spin. Mental illness, economic prejudice, struggles of single parents- you name it & it’s more than likely discussed in some form.

Viggo is our main character for the most part. He’s the classic, flawed hero. As readers catch up with his life, they find themselves cheering and cringing on a literary roller coaster. It’s easy to see a piece of ourselves in him- good or bad. Although there were many theological points with which I wholeheartedly disagree with the author, I can’t say that this novel was anything less than fantastic. From the writing style to the characters to its ‘wow’ moment ending, it deserves a 5 star rating. Even if one wasn’t a huge fan of the plot, the author deserves applause for the seamless time switches & narration changing.

I’d recommend taking time for this one. It isn’t a light, take-it-to-the-beach read. But, it is worth the time investment.

Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert: Patricia Cornwell

London in the 1800s was terrorized by an unknown assailant who stalked & killed his prey. ‘Jack the Ripper’ was what he’d called himself in his numerous letters to the police. Without DNA, computers, or even fingerprinting abilities, the authorities were stumped. Most of their investigations led them to think a low-income, laborer was to blame.

Over the many years since the first Ripper murder, conspiracies and opinions have abounded. Author Patricia Cornwell was lead to and became obsessed with finding the truth. Taking the route of processing the Ripper case with modern technologies, she virtually time traveled to the Ripper’s era. It’s no secret that she has decided she knows his identity.

Walter Sickert is mostly remembered as an angst artist who depended on his wives’ generosity to live. Because he is held in high regard by the art community, her investigation was less than well received. Accusations against her and conflicting theories were tossed about when the first edition of this book was written. Now, with additional pictures, evidence, and information, Cornwell has re-written her case. Within the 570 page, non-fiction work, Patricia Cornwell provides her entire theory on why Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper.

Whether or not readers agree, and based on the reviews of this book the opinions are mixed, one has to say that her research is impressive and her case is sound. Without a confession or some other such proof, we can never bang the gavel on these murders. Circumstantial evidence, in my opinion, does side with our author. No doubt, this is the most complete, modernized account of the entire case and all the murders involved.

Patricia Cornwell has invested an immense amount of time, energy, and her own money to complete this investigation. No one can argue that she wasn’t all in. That said, it is a one-sided book. Even the title is adamant that Sickert was the Ripper. Although other avenues were briefly mentioned, they all led her directly back to Sickert. Readers won’t find any other plausible Ripper theories in this book.

This specific edition does contain maps & photos to aid in the case. The autopsy photos should make readers grateful that our medical field has advanced! However, there is a lot of repetition in the pages. Many times, Cornwell hammers the point home by reasserting opinion and by providing way too many details about Sickert’s routines. It definitely could have filled less than 570 pages.

I cannot argue her theories and if asked, I’d probably side with her based on the info she’s provided. It’s a compelling case that could be prosecuted in today’s courts. But, there was too much opinion, too many mundane passages and it just lacked a ‘Wow’ factor. If someone chooses to read ‘Ripper’, they must be either very into non-fiction, specifically true  crime, or very into the Ripper in general. It is a time-consuming read that took me much long than usual to finish. I give it 3 stars.

On a separate note, the Kindle edition of this book contained ‘Kindle in Motion’. Basically, this is an interactive feature where pictures and maps move and can be moved. I enjoyed this feature and more Kindle books should utilize it.

Book Spotlight: Lose Your Fat, Not Your Mind: Adrian Padula

Lose Your Fat, Not Your Mind
By Adrian Padula
Genre: Non-Fiction
Losing weight can often be an uphill battle for most people. Are you looking for a simple yet effective way to drop those excess pounds? After many years of working in the health and fitness industry, Adrian decided that there had to be certain principles that when followed, produced guaranteed weight loss and better health for anyone who followed them. Principles that were so simple to use and easy to implement, yet still produced remarkable results. After years of research and testing, Adrian finally discovered the 7 ‘secret’ principles that must be followed in order to achieve the kind of body and level of health that most people desire. Moreover, this method of eating is enjoyable, easy to sustain, and can be adapted to YOUR specific lifestyle! Finally, a plan that you can actually stick with and a way of eating that WILL produce the results you have always wanted, and quickly! *Learn how to recognise which foods literally force your body to burn body fat *Discover which superfoods you must include in your diet to fast track your results *Learn how to use intermittent fasting as a powerful weight loss tool *Learn how to switch on your fat-burning hormones *Lose 3-4 pounds every week *Discover the biggest mistakes most people make when trying to lose weight *Learn how to destroy your sugar cravings using a simple 4-step process *Discover how you can finally gain control over the food you eat *Learn how Adrian’s proven 7-step method, which has helped hundreds of his clients, can also give you amazing results *Find out which supplements can help you to lose weight and which ones are a total waste of your money *Discover how you can activate your ‘skinny gene’ *Have access to nutritious and easy to prepare recipes that are guaranteed to taste amazing! About the Author

Adrian Padula is a certified nutritionist, wellness coach, chef, author and blogger. Working in the health, fitness and hospitality industries over the past 20 years ignited his passion to help others to look and feel their best through healthy lifestyle choices. Working closely with food also gave him an understanding of how people’s eating habits and lack of awareness was not only leading them further away from their goals, but also down the path to self-destruction. His ‘worthy ideal’ is to help educate people and assist them in living a happier, healthier life.
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The Girl At The Bar by Nicholas Nash

Bright, ambitious Rebecca Chase is in New York for a medical conference. As a cutting edge researcher, she is on top of her game and a hot commodity. During a break from the conference, she stops in a bar where she meets Ragnar Johnson.

A discussion on his unusual name leads to a late night rendezvous in his apartment. Ragnar believes his recent run of bad luck has changed. That is until he wakes up the next morning to an empty bed and a missing Rebecca. What initially appeared to be a young woman regretting a drunken choice becomes a true missing person’s case when the police knock on his apartment door. It seems that Rebecca isn’t just missing from his apartment. She’s gone without a trace.

Shady scientists, sketchy friends, and scary secrets all come into play in the search for Rebecca. It seems that everyone wants to find her- or do they?

‘The Girl At the Bar’ is Nicholas Nash’s first book. The basic premise is good. His plot is well thought out and shows promise. However, there are a number of things that I didn’t care for throughout the book. Character to character dialogue seemed much too scripted. Rarely do ‘real’ people speak without using any slang or consistently speak in full sentences. Here, our characters repeat themselves -often- and use the word ‘Uh’ constantly.

In a mystery that involves cancer research, a good bit of medical jargon is to be expected. However, some benefit of the doubt should be given to readers. Not all terms need a paragraph long explanation. For example, carcinogens is a pretty common word for most readers. It comes off as condescending and elementary to leave the plot’s action & define it. The same can be said for historical references. If it isn’t essential to the plot, leave it out. It’s distracting.

That said, my opinion is that ‘The Girl in the Bar’ is simply missing the ‘WOW’ factor. A little over halfway through, I’d reconciled what I thought the finale would be and I was spot on. With so much competition in fiction, a book really needs to stand out in its genre. Sadly, this one does not. I give it 3 stars, which is being generous, and hopefully, Nicholas Nash will come with his ‘A’ game in his next book.

*Sensitive readers: Contains sex and violence

**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. As always, read for yourself and draw your own conclusion.

Chasing the Ripper: Patricia Cornwell

After devoting most of her literary career to fiction works, Patricia Cornwell developed a fascination with the unsolved murders of Jack the Ripper. In this Kindle Single, she takes time to answer some questions surrounding her investigation and give readers a little background.

Honestly, this single was the first I’ve read of any of her works. I’d heard good things, just never happened to read any of them. When I saw this one, I was intrigued. She had written a book about the Ripper, ‘Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper-Case Closed’. This Single, however, is in anticipation of her newest work, ‘Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert’.
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed ‘Ripperologist’ or just recently heard of him (which is doubtful), you’re at least aware that he’s one of the world’s most infamous serial killers. Movies, television, and written word have all dedicated themselves to immortalizing his name. One thing has always been certain: he’s never been brought to justice.

Countless writers/historians have guessed through research or simple whodunit measures as to his identity. None has ever seemed as certain as Ms. Cornwell. As the title of her work details, she believes Walter Sickert was the Ripper. In this prequel (that’s the best way to describe it), Ms. Cornwell gives us a few tidbits from her investigation. It is a very short read at around 48 pages (on the Kindle).

She discusses how she was perceived from fans & naysayers during her investigation. There are notable talking points on people she met, things she’s seen, and answers to frequently asked questions. If nothing else, it generates anticipation towards the more complete project to come. I will say that I was impressed with this book and definitely compelled to read more.

My knowledge of ‘Ripperology’ is close to zero, so I’m not in a position to throw out a guess for his identity. However, Ms. Cornwell makes her case and if I was picking sides, I’d side with her. It’s an articulate, well-written prequel. I’m very much looking forward to , ‘Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert’.

Wined, Dined And Dead: Stacey Alabaster

Bakery Detectives Book #9
Valentine’s Day has arrived. Like many couples, Rachel & Kenneth and Pippa & Marcello plan to spend the Holiday dining in style. ‘Scott’s’ is the place to be. Priding itself on being the epitome of upscale dining, the foursome had to settle for the night before the holiday in order to score a reservation.

But, their dinner is ruined when a murder is committed in Scott’s. Unfortunately, the victim happens to be their waiter- a young man named Paul. Before they know it, Rachel & Pippa are back to investigating whodunit. Romance will have to wait.

The last two installments of the series have definitely evolved. There is a lot more mystery & investigating included. Pippa & Marcello continue to provide comic relief with their endless supply of martial woes. I’m not a fan of the ‘Kenneth’ character who appeared in Book 8. Rachel is a better heroine flying solo.

As for the plot, this one has a number of twists and turns. It’s interesting how many people’s lives intersect. But, that’s true in real-life so it works here too. Readers will be kept guessing a bit longer than they have with the series before this book (which is a good thing). I give it 4 stars & hope the writing continues in this direction.

The TimeKeepers: Jenn Bregman

SYNOPSIS: “The TimeKeepers centers on a young, idealistic, naïve lawyer named Sarah Brockman. Having left Big Law in search of work that will make a difference, Sarah finds herself barely scraping by, running her own personal injury firm working for clients who can’t pay and pursuing causes she can’t win.
Then, a random horrific car crash changes everything.
Brimming with corrupt judges, dirty cops, offshore banking, massive fraud, and countless twists and turns through the highways and byways of southern California, Mexico, and the Cook Islands, The TimeKeepers follows Sarah as invisible strings pull her closer and closer to the core of a shocking conspiracy. Facing off against a cunning and deranged adversary, Sarah must navigate a kaleidoscopic landscape of characters including a sharp-witted socialite, a felon, and a shameless Mexican raconteur – all while kindling a tender romance with her boyishly handsome new love, Sam, who’s been following the same trail… but from the other end, and the wrong side of the law.”

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The TimeKeepers’ maintains the usual legal thriller plot. Good vs. bad, David vs. Goliath. Sarah is a likable heroine, to an extent. Her romance with Sam is a tad too convenient and distracts from the plot. It was my feeling from page one that revealing the ‘villain’ from the get-go was a mistake. It would have changed the entire dynamic of the novel and made it ten times better, had the reader been kept guessing for a bit.

The ending itself was good. Our author brought the epilogue to together nicely. However, I found the majority of the book to be a bit too wordy, dragging along with lulls in the action, and predictable. A word of caution for sensitive readers: there is coarse language, violence & sex throughout the novel. While the book is readable, it lacked anything majorly exciting or noteworthy. I give it 3 stars and hope the sequel surpasses this one.

I received a copy in exchange for a review. All opinions are mine. Pics & synopsis belong ONLY to the author & her team.
Jenn Bregman is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer who has practiced in both Los Angeles and New York City, where she worked on some of the most notorious cases of our time. A veteran of Big Law and a graduate of the University of Denver and UCLA Law School, her writing has been published in the UCLA Law Review and Los Angeles Lawyer magazine. A marathoner who loves pugs and hiking giant mountains, Bregman lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the California Women’s Bar Association, Los Angeles Women’s Bar Association, Gamma Phi Beta, and Mensa. The TimeKeepers is her first novel, with a sequel planned for release in 2018.