Review: Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism

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Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism
Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism by Stanley B. Burns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stiffs, Skulls and Skeletons is a unique and beautiful book of medical photography that will likely appeal to a very limited number of people. I happen to be one of those people. I was provided with an electronic copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. While my experience looking at these photographs and reading the fascinating histories was extremely enjoyable, I would imagine that the experience would be significantly better with a hard copy in my hands. It's hard to appreciate a book of photography while you scroll through it on your computer.

Other than this small complaint, I think this is a great coffee table book for anyone interested in medical history. It would be a pleasure to place you the desk of a doctor's office. The photographs are stunning and capture a great part of history which I am proud to be involved in.

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Review: Golden Son

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Golden Son
Golden Son by Pierce Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never ever read more than the first book in a series. I mean never (well, okay, except for the second Hunger Games book which I gave up on part way through). Even if I really love a story, I like it to end. That's why I avoid series. Just like movie sequels, book series generally crush any joy I got from the first book by the time I reach the end. Well, Pierce Brown has just changed my 'no series' policy! In a big way.

Red Rising was one of the best dystopian novels I'd read when I reviewed it last year and I firmly stand by that sentiment. For once we got an adult dystopia that was brutal and gory and chock full of moral dilemmas and ethical quandaries. It read like a superbly crafted book by a veteran author (even though it was his first book) and had fantastic imagery.

Golden Son was no different. For once I may actually go as far as to say that this sequel may have even been better than first book. I'm sure some will argue with me but this book had even more complexity in the characters and I was surprised regularly by plot twists.

Perhaps not everyone will agree, but this is a book that is crafted for someone just like me! It is gritty but lyrical. If you are a person who marks up your books you will have passages highlighted throughout the story. This is definitely a series that must be read in order but trust me that you won't regret the choice to check it out!

I can hardly wait until the final installment hits shelves....

*For full disclosure, I received this book for free from the pulisher in exchange for an honest unbiased review

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Review: The Magician's Lie

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The Magician's Lie
The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Magician's Lie had all of the ingredients of an awesome story... and just about got there. The premise caught me by the lapels immediately - a female illusionist accused of murdering her husband by chopping him in half with an axe. Anyone who doesn't think that sounds worth looking into obviously didn't watch the movie 'The Illusionist'. The intrigue and mystery of a good magician mixed with a well-written historic fiction is hard to beat and honestly, for most of the book I was hooked.

The story takes place during a single night while the illusionist tells the story of her life to a law-man who arrested her shortly after they found a man dead. I very much enjoyed the tone of the writing and felt that the pace was perfect. There were a few small things in the story which were aggravating such as some of the choices made by Arden... she's a very intelligent girl who makes some oddly silly choices which didn't really fit her character.

Overall I loved the book. It certainly wasn't perfect but I think it is certainly a gem that should get a fair amount of attention this year. For full disclosure, I got a copy from Netgalley for an unbiased review.

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Review: Not the Last Goodbye: On Life, Death, Healing, and Cancer

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Not the Last Goodbye: On Life, Death, Healing, and Cancer
Not the Last Goodbye: On Life, Death, Healing, and Cancer by David Servan-Schreiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not the Last Goodbye is a very short but emotionally-packed book. It was written by the author of the Best-Seller 'Anti-Cancer' (a book which I haven't read. I also wasn't aware of this when I started reading it). From what I understand, Anti-Cancer was a diet/self-help book that essentially taught a diet based on scientific evidence that can help prevent cancer increase the longevity of cancer patients. I may be completely wrong about that premise but that is the gist as I understand it. Not the Last Goodbye follows up Anti-Cancer as an end-of-life farewell by Dr. Servan-Schreiber after his cancer returned aggressively.

I can imagine that those who were skeptics and the followers of Dr. Servan-Schreiber's method were shaken a bit by the return of his cancer. In this book, he addresses the skeptics and arguments against his proclamations in Anti-Cancer and his continued support for its teachings. But more than anything, NTLG is a brief recollection of his struggles toward the end of his life and his legacy that he hopes to leave behind.

I think this was a book written for those who hold Dr. Servan-Schreiber dear, including his family, friends and fans, but I think there are also strong lessons that can be picked up by anyone who reads it. It's a bit of a dark read for such a short book and unlike Pausch's 'Last Lecture', I didn't necessarily finish it inspired to pick up and do anything different with life... but it was a decent read and a heart-felt goodbye.

The book was finished just 8 weeks before Dr. Servan-Schreiber's death so I'm sure many will hold these word with great reverence. I'm not sure it spoke enough to those not familiar with his other works but overall it was still a good read.

For full disclosure, I got the book for free from NetGalley for an unbiased review.

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Review: California

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California by Edan Lepucki

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that barely survived the DNF shelf. Honestly, after finishing it, I kind of wish I would have done just that and filed it among those not worthy of my time. I suppose that what hurt the most about my overall impression of this book is that it should be been right up my alley. I love stories in this genre. Dystopian fiction is usually my cup of tea but California ended up being a massive disappointment.

There were some small glimpses of adventure and excitement in the story but overwhelmingly the story was made up of dreary dialogue between characters who actually did very little of anything. The setting was perfect for a complicated emotional tale... but it failed to deliver.

This was one of those books that garnered a significant amount of early praise which doesn't seem to be deserved. The pace was extremely slow and the ending left me wholly unsatisfied. I'll be glad to move on to something else.

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Review: Superman/Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Power Couple

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Superman/Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Power Couple
Superman/Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Coming off my high praises for 'Injustice: Gods Among Us' I can't help but feel somewhat betrayed by DC. I finally thought I may be getting hooked back on Superman - I felt like I was experiencing some of my childhood joy again - until I read this graphic novel. I was gritting my teeth through the entire storyline. There was too much blubbery romance, too much dwelling on complex emotions and not enough ass-kicking. The storyline was just not great at all. It's not like this is a long graphic novel... and yet I almost didn't even finish it.

I enjoy a bit of complexity and real life in my comics but this was just too much. Luckily I was given a free electronic copy of this graphic novel through NetGalley because I certainly would have felt ripped off if I paid for it.

I'm at a crossroads here: Do I continue reading Superman comics and take the chance of DC ruining my childhood hero or just drop him into my memory bucket with all the good comic memories from yester-year and live with my happy memories of books I enjoyed?

I recommend skipping this one unless you like your superheroes written like Twilight novels.

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Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Vol. 1

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Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Vol. 1
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been years since I read a Superman comic or graphic novel, not because I don't love Superman (who doesn't!?) but because the DC universe has often seemed a bit lacking. I'm a bit more of a Marvel universe follower but was excited to receive an electronic copy of this graphic novel from NetGalley.

I haven't read Volume 1 of this storyline but the beginning of the book did a good job of catching me up on all of the events of the previous book. Let me just say, this may have reconverted me to Superman! This is a dark and exciting portrayal of the world's favorite superhero... where he is kind of, sort of a villain. And I loved it! I'm definitely going to have to start following these books in the future.

This is an exciting addition to the DC universe storyline and can happily recommend it to all geeks!

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