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Reviews Written by
Thomas Duff "Duffbert" (Portland, OR United States)
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No Time to Die
No Time to Die
Price: CDN$ 7.85

5.0 out of 5 stars What would happen if you could turn off the aging gene in people?, Nov. 23 2014
This review is from: No Time to Die (Kindle Edition)
I picked out No Time To Die by Kira Peikoff based on the teaser on the back cover written by Joseph Finder likening her writing to Michael Crichton. And as usual, Finder was right. No Time To Die was a great story involving the bio-ethics of aging, and what lengths people would go to in order to find a key to stop it.

The story revolves around Zoe Kincaid, a college student with a rare gene abnormality. At the age of 14 she stopped aging. No more growth, no puberty, no physical changes. She desperately wants to find a way to turn off that particular gene so she can start to live life as an adult. Unfortunately, the medical climate in the US is such that doctors and researchers are forbidden from research and experimentation in genetic therapy. That doesn't keep an underground group of researchers from trying to bypass those regulations. The government knows about this group, and is determined to shut them down as a terrorist group. Zoe gets involved with the group as they want to offer her research and a cure for her condition, but she's still torn over whether the group is what they say they are, or whether they're moving into a position to completely destroy society as we know it.

I really enjoyed the characters in No Time To Die, and there were more than a couple of ethical dilemmas that came into play during the story. Is a "cure" for one person a "curse" for society? If you can turn off aging, what does that mean 10, 20, or 50 years down the road when no one is dying? This is definitely a great story and one that will have you thinking about harder questions.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

Bones Never Lie
Bones Never Lie
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed revisiting the world of Temperance Brennan..., Nov. 20 2014
This review is from: Bones Never Lie (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed getting back in the world of Temperance Brennan in Kathy Reichs' latest novel Bones Never Lie. It seems like it's been forever since I last read a Reichs novel, but I find I still like them as much as I have in the past.

Bones Never Lie ties into one of Brennan's last cases where she narrowly escaped death at the hands of a psychopath killer, Anique Pomerleau. They never did catch her, but Brennan has put that behind her. Now in her home town of Charlotte, missing girls are turning up dead, and the signature of the killings has Pomerleau written all over them. She's called in to consult on the case, and she also has to find and "un-exile" her former partner, Andrew Ryan, to help out. As they start to track down Pomerleau (who hasn't been heard from in years), they uncover some disturbing information about the killings, both past and present. And all the facts they thought they knew, may not be true at all.

It's hard for me not to compare these novels to the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I can sum up the comparison by saying I don't read Cornwell any longer as I couldn't stand the characters and what seemed to be incessant whining in all the stories. Brennan is a much more complex character, working to balance work and her personal life (including a mother who struggles with a number of physical and mental issues). The story and plot is relatively complex with a number of turns that kept changing the whole picture of who was really doing what. In fact, I had to battle sleep pretty hard a couple of nights as I had to see what happened next.

Definitely well worth reading, especially if you're a Temperance Brennan fan.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

The Chase (Fox and O'Hare Series, Book 2)
The Chase (Fox and O'Hare Series, Book 2)
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I'm having a lot of fun reading this series..., Nov. 17 2014
So I'm finding I really like the Fox and O'Hare series from Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. The second installment, The Chase, was just as good as the first. It's a nice change from the Stephanie Plum series I'm used to from Evanovich, and I can see this series having legs.

FBI agent Kate O'Hare and con artist Nicolas Fox team up again to take down a nasty character who is hiding a piece of art that could cause an international incident if not returned. He's a former White House chief of staff (with plenty of contacts) and a ton of money from running a security firm known for their ruthlessness. He has an ancient Chinese chicken sculpture that is thought to be in the Smithsonian. The US is going to return the item, but the statue in the museum isn't the real thing. Fox and O'Hare need to pull off a swap under multiple layers of security and virtually no lead time to make it all work. As far as Fox is concerned, it's not any fun if it's not "impossible". O'Hare is certain that there's no way she'll come out of this without a prison term... either in the States or China.

I really like the intricate cons that Evanovich and Goldberg set up for the characters. It's a constant cliffhanger as things are always on the edge of breaking down completely in a way that will kill off one or both of them. O'Hare is great as a tough ex-military cop who is constantly fighting her feelings about what is right and wrong (as well as whether she is falling for Fox). Fox is a smooth con man who is extremely likable and can weave some great adventures. Add the sexual tension between the two, and it's a lot of fun.

I'm set to read the third book in the series, and I really hope that this collaboration between two very good authors continues for a very long time.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks
I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks
Price: CDN$ 9.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre, funny, touching... I love this book., Nov. 13 2014
I was at the library the other day picking up books on hold, and I found this book... I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan. It was relatively short, so I decided to pick it up. I'm glad I did, as this was an excellent/funny/touching read. I'm also now following a *very* funny website.

Sheridan started the website iworkatapubliclibrary.com, where she started sharing some of her patron experiences while working at, obviously, a public library. The idea started when she met Cuckoo Carol shortly after getting her first professional job. That encounter at the library's dumpster inspired the "I need to write this down" idea that led to the website, and now this book.

The book is a series of small stories and exchanges which range from the bizarre to the inspiring to "what were they thinking???" As a person who works in the tech industry (and deals with a range of computer experience levels), I had to laugh and shake my head at a number of these, knowing that I've been down that same path with clueless people. For instance, having someone ask you how to make sure their ex-boyfriend doesn't get their email address isn't all that strange, until they mention that they don't have an email address. Or someone asks for help with the library website, prompting the question "OK, so are you at the library home page?" The answer of "no, I'm at my apartment" is (unfortunately) something that wouldn't surprise me. :)

While I laughed at most of the stories and exchanges, the final chapter caused tears. Sheridan shows that everyone has a story, and we miss so much by not taking the time to reach out to people and ask them a simple question and show interest in them as a person. It caused me to think about how many times I've failed in that area.

This probably won't take more than an hour to read, and it's well-spent time. If you love your local library and love books, you'll love this one.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

The Heist (Fox and O'Hare Series, Book 1)
The Heist (Fox and O'Hare Series, Book 1)
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I like the Evanovich/Goldberg collaboration, Nov. 4 2014
I decided to give one of Janet Evanovich's series a try. She has a new series that she co-writes with Lee Goldberg involving an FBI special agent and an international fugitive/con man. They're tossed together by the FBI to hunt down other fugitives using "non-conventional methods." After reading the first installment titled The Heist, I think I'm going to like where this goes.

Kate O'Hare is the FBI agent, and she comes from a military/special forces background. She's no-nonsense, has a strong sense of law and order, and it's her life's mission to capture Nick Fox. Nick is a con man who has pulled off some incredible high-profile scams over the years. He's cocky and daring, and not bad looking to boot. Kate finally captures him, only to have him escape as he's being led to the courtoom. Her world goes completely upside down when she finds out that he escaped with the help of her own agency, and now she's expected to work with him to go after other fugitives that can't be touched by normal law enforcement methods. She hates the fact that she's attracted to Nick and is breaking the law, but she can't deny that she loves the thrill of bringing down high-profile criminals.

In Heist, they go after an investment banker who absconds with half a billion dollars in funds. He's squirrelled away in a small country with no extradition treaties with the US, so it's up to Kate and Nick (and a few team members they've picked up for the con) to find him, bring him back to US soil, AND get their hands on the stolen money. Using a seemingly unlimited slush fund to pull off the con, they pose as a rich (and bored) woman with her manservant cruising around "because they can". Add in pirates, Mexican drug lords, and elaborate props, and you have a recipe that walks the line between success and disaster.

This was a fun read for me. I really liked the reluctant romantic tension between Kate and Nick, and both characters were entertaining. Kate is a complete opposite from the Stephanie Plum character of Evanovich's other series, and I liked the change of pace. This series has a lot of room to explore, and I plan on keeping current on it.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Free

KT Athletic Tape Original Uncut Roll- 16 Feet()
KT Athletic Tape Original Uncut Roll- 16 Feet()
Offered by Bowlerstore
Price: CDN$ 37.15

5.0 out of 5 stars This tape is definitely worth it..., Nov. 3 2014
When I saw KT TAPE kinesiology therapeutic tape in my selection list for Amazon Vine, I was excited! I was sure I could slap some of that stuff on my butt and be a pro volleyball player... like they do in the Olympics... right? Alas, I was still short and overweight, so that fantasy was dashed. What else was this tape good for, anyway?

Ok, seriously now... I see why this is such a popular and useful tool to help your body work better during exercise. I walk on a regular basis (as fast as my short legs will carry me), and I've got my share of minor aches and pains. My knee is still a bit tweaked after a fall I took a month or two ago. To test this out, I taped up my knee according to the instructional sheet, and it made a big difference. It's like wearing a lightweight support brace around the knee, but without any of the bulk and chafing that you often get with a true brace. It only took a couple of minutes to get taped up, and the support was immediate. As I was on my two mile walk, there were no twinges or pain of any sort. I liked it a lot!

It's not cheap stuff (16 ft for $13), so I wouldn't want to use a couple of feet of tape every time I went for a walk). But in a true rehab or "must have support" scenario, this would be a first choice without question.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
Payment: Free

Death Glitch
Death Glitch
Price: CDN$ 0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Different and interesting..., Oct. 27 2014
This review is from: Death Glitch (Kindle Edition)
Death Glitch by Ken Douglas is a different thriller, to be sure. The main character, an elderly heart surgeon dying of cancer, ends up getting shot while trying to keep her granddaughter from being the victim of an assassination. She dies in the shooting, but wakes up in the morgue as a young woman with some incredible health powers. She tries to keep a lid on the story (as she doesn't understand it herself), but the news starts to get out to people who would do anything to study her and find out what happened. It could well be that she's a walking fountain of youth now...

There were a number of twists as the plot progressed, and the story went off in directions I couldn't have imagined when it started. Most of the characters have an interesting mix of good and bad, black and white, and you're not always sure which side of the fence they are in any given situation.

It's hard to nail this down into a specific genre. It's a thriller and mystery, to be sure, but the "back from the dead" angle takes it a bit into the supernatural. If you're into something different, this might be of interest to you.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Author
Payment: Free

Diercon Personal Portable Water Filter Straw Lifestraw Survival Hollow Fiber Filter Cartridge Color Blue
Diercon Personal Portable Water Filter Straw Lifestraw Survival Hollow Fiber Filter Cartridge Color Blue

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent addition to an emergency bag..., Oct. 18 2014
Diercon did a great job with their water filter/purifier straw (and accessories). This is a welcome addition to my emergency bag, and it's also perfect for hiking if you're afraid you might run out of water that you carried on you to start with.

The main filter straw is a 6.25" tube that has two filtering chambers. The bottom is antibacterial activated carbon and the top contains a hollow fiber UF membrane. Based on their description, it's supposed to remove 99.9% of waterborne bacteria, which I'll take their word on (not about to go find a polluted water source to test it). It also removes the unpleasant taste of some water. I tested it on our tap water which I tested without running the faucets first. The taste was much better than what it normally is in those situations.

This is extremely easy to use. Basically, you just pop the top cap off the straw, place the base in the water source, and start sucking. It took about three or four hard pulls for the water to make it through the filters, but after that it was fine. The unit is rated for 500 gallons a year, which should be more than enough to make it through an emergency or a summer of hiking and camping.

The accessories (ordered separately) take a very good product and make it even better. The accessories include a two foot plastic tube, a collapsible water pouch, a sediment filter, and a syringe for backwashing the straw. The plastic tube attaches to the bottom of the straw and makes it easier to get to a water source if you can't get your face to within six inches of it. The sediment filter screws on to the bottom of the straw and will help strain out dirt and other debris before it gets to the filter. The water pouch is a great idea, as it allows you to fill up the pouch, screw the straw onto the pouch, and then drink the water that way. The straw also screws on to a normal 1/2 liter plastic bottle, so you could load up on water from a stream and then use the straw to filter the water as you drink it.

I'd like to think I'd never need this, but there's no way you can control emergencies like storms and earthquakes that may disrupt your supply of drinkable water. I'm really glad I got the chance to play with this a bit, and it's going into my emergency bag as we speak.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Retailer
Payment: Free

Oxo 22181 BK Utility Knife Blade, 5-Inch
Oxo 22181 BK Utility Knife Blade, 5-Inch
Price: CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I'd love a whole set of these..., Sept. 22 2014
I'm really liking my new OXO Good Grips 5-inch utility knife. This is one of those kitchen items that I tend to look for first because it works so well. Add in the comfort factor, and I wouldn't mind a whole drawer of these.

The serrated edge works perfectly for slicing things like tomatoes or fruits that would normally be smooshed by a flat blade. It's razor sharp, so pulling the serrated edge over the surface makes the initial cuts on the outer skin, and then makes short work of the inside pulp. I'm able to slide tomatoes with no waste or mashed parts left over. It also does a great job on meat when I'm slicing up larger pieces to throw on the barbecue. In short, I haven't found anything that it doesn't cut well, with the exception of something that's larger than 5" across. Other than that, it's all good. Oh, and the handle is perfect for comfort and safety. The rubberized grip makes it a joy to hold with no hand fatigue, and it proves a non-slip surface that greatly minimizes the chance of cutting yourself.

As I mentioned at the beginning... if someone offered me a set of these knives, I'd take the with no questions asked. They are really good cutting utensils.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
Payment: Free

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges
People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Warped, but in a funny way..., Sept. 9 2014
Yes, this is warped, but in a funny way... People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann. I read most of this while out walking around a track, and it helped me to keep smiling when my legs were not.

Jen Mann runs a blog (same name as the title of the book) where she shares stories about her life. Quite often they revolve around living in suburbia when you don't really fit the mold of all the over-achievers. Many of the stories revolve around her kids, their schooling, and the people (mostly mothers) who she runs into as part of that school scene. Think of it as "slice of life" observations in blog form. This book takes a number of those entries and compiles them for reading in one place.

I hadn't heard of her prior to seeing this book, but I'm definitely a reader now. Her sarcasm is great, and I think most people could relate to at least a couple of the situations she talks about. It's a mix between sad and funny that the people she interacts with are like they are. But you know there are mothers who *are* driven to make sure their child is the best at everything.

One thing to remember when reading the stories. They do sound over-the-top at times, and they are probably not 100% accurate or "as they really happened". As she states in the author's note up front: "All of the names and identifying characteristics of the people who appear in this book have been changed to protect the good, the bad, and the ugly. So if you think you see yourself in the pages, please be assured that you are almost certainly wrong. These are my stories and this is how I remember them." Just consider that there is probably a great deal of "artistic license" taken here.

I enjoyed the read, but I'm not sure it'd be to everyone's liking. I would suggest going to her blog and read a few of her entries. If you like those, you'll like the book.

Contents:
People I Want To Punch in the Throat - A Short List; You've Got Mail!; Take Your Mother's Sandwich and Shove It; The Hubs or the Cleaning Lady - Don't Make Me Choose; God Bless America (and Thongs); Just Some of the Many Reasons the Neighbors Always Hate Us; Screw Your Playgroup, I Didn't Want to Join Anyway; Gomer Might Be a Racist; Jeez, Lady, I Just Wanted A Cup Of Coffee, Not Your Kidney; Hello Mother, Hello Father, Signing Up for Camp Sucks; Ooh, Sorry to Hear You Got Agnes in Your Class, but I Hear Her Mother Is Lovely; Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Sweet-Ass Ride; Am I Supposed to Believe a Five-Year-Old Made That?; Carpool Lines and Bunny Pajamas Go Together Like... Nothing. They Don't Go Together at All; The Husband Inquisition; Who Needs Dr. Phil When We Have Adolpha?; Do You Ever Invite Me Over When You're Not Trying to Sell Me Something?; Sleepover Is Not a Party Theme! And Other Stupid Things Suburban Moms Complain About; It's Free Bowling, Lady, Not the Junior Olympics; I Thought Mother's Little Helper Was a Babysitter. I was Wrong - It's Drugs; Motherhood - The Toughest Competition You'll Ever Judge; Watch It, That Room Mom'll Cut You; Would You Take Less than a Quarter for This Swarovski Vase?; Moms' Night Out at the Gun Range;

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Netgalley
Payment: Free

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