Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Following the horrendous medical research performed by the Nazis, the 1947 Nuremberg War Tribunal put together a ten point code the first of which is "The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential." But because this was a rule and not a law, it was mostly ignored by the scientific and medical community in the U.S. and in 1951 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, cancerous cells (HeLa) were removed from the patient, Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge and reproduced in labs throughout the world.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not only about the use of these cells, but of Henrietta's life and that of her descendants. Although there were many advantages to using these cells for research, which resulted in a vaccination for polio, many were injected into unsuspecting people resulting in the development of cancer in their bodies (they were told the serum injected was to find out if they had cancer!). Three Jewish doctors refused to perform the procedure without the patient's informed consent and sent a letter of resignation stating the practice was illegal, immoral and deplorable. Henrietta's children wanted to know why, if people were making millions of dollars from their mother's cells and others benefiting from the research, they - her children - couldn't even afford health insurance.

My thoughts:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is well written and Rebecca Skloot gives the reader insight into how she researched the life of Henrietta Lacks and gives an account of her meetings with the Lacks family. At the top of each chapter she shows a timeline, marking the time the story is taking place. Despite researchers and laboratories making millions from these cells, Henrietta's family neither knew, nor were compensated. They were a poor family and their mother was buried in an unmarked grave. Sadly, Johns Hopkins wanted his legacy to be a a hospital where poor people could receive free medical treatment and he chose a black community to build the hospital, but that community listened to rumors and saw it as a place where poor people could be abducted for medical research. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks would be a great book club read.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Murder in the Afternoon Extra by Peter Bartram

Every time I start reading a new Colin Crampton mystery, it feels like connecting with an old friend. I think Colin might have been someone fun to hang out with in 1960s Brighton. Apart from being in the company of someone who might be killed that is.

Murder in the Afternoon Extra is the second book in Peter Bartram's trilogy and this one takes us across the Atlantic to Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, NY). True to Colin's character, he's chased by undesirable characters, finds himself in difficult situations that only MacGyver (and Colin) can get out of and looks forward to returning to the arms of long time girlfriend, Shirley. But the story doesn't end there. Next in the trilogy is Murder in the Night Final.

Note: There is a beach in Brighton which would be referred to as Brighton beach, but Brighton Beach in Brooklyn is actually the name of the town. I read a book not long ago where the author mistakenly referred to Brighton, England as Brighton Beach!

Morning, Noon and Night Trilogy is available on Amazon

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Colourful Death by Carola Dunn

Many of you know I loved the time I lived in Cornwall, so reading Carola Dunn's A Colourful Death was like walking through familiar surroundings. Set in the 1960s Eleanor Trewynn lives in a Cornish village - she even drives the same car I did at the time, A Morris Minor.

From the cover:
Eleanor Trewynn is a recently retired widow who has moved to the small village of Port Mabyn in Cornwall. . .  Her friend and neighbor, artist Nick Gresham returns to Port Mabyn from a trip to London to find several of his paintings slashed, likely by rival local artist Geoffrey Monmouth. When Nick goes to have it out with him, with Eleanor in tow, they find Monmouth's body in the studio. . . Once Eleanor starts doing a little investigating on her own, she learns that Nick is far from the only one with a compelling motive for murder.

Friday, August 4, 2017

One Season of Sunshine by Julia London

Romance novel, One Season of Sunshine by Julia London isn't a genre I often read, but it was a good story even though the romance part seemed to happen and wrap up in a short period of time. But maybe that's not uncommon with romance stories. One thing that did bother me though was the five year old son of Asher, Levi, was in the swimming pool a lot on his own despite having a father, a nanny and household staff that could have supervised him and I thought that might be the setting up of a tragedy - it wasn't.  Some of the story hinges on Jane's quest to find her birth mother and some of the book club questions ask if it's best to leave questions unanswered. I believe most of us are curious about our parents and ancestors and with having resources on the internet now and Ancestry.com, people are looking closer at where they came from.

From the cover:
Adopted as an infant, Jane Aaron longs to know the identity of her birth mother and why she gave her up. Her only clue is the name of the small Texas town where she was born, so she's come to Cedar Springs for answers.
Handsome ad executive Asher Price lost his wife, the Beautiful, mysterious Susanna, in a terrible car crash eighteen months ago. When he hires Jane as the nanny for his two children, sparks fly. Jane finds herself falling in love with both Asher and his children, but begins to suspect that Susanna was not the perfect mother and wife the family portrays her to have been.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great Texas Balloon Race - Longview, Texas

Last weekend the Great Texas Balloon Race was held in Longview, Texas. The balloons were on show and glowing Saturday evening before the Travis Tritt concert. Sunrise on Sunday morning, the balloonists tried to hit a marker and many of them came in very low. With some wind, they had to be quick to drop their marker. Andrew Holly, from England (Guiness World Record Holder) also participated.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams

Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams is part of the Book Retreat Mystery series - I always find her book covers intriguing. Jane and her twin boys live in the hunting lodge of Storyton Hall, both buildings were moved from England in the 1830s to western Virginia. This, apparently, is not uncommon and several buildings (and bridge) have been moved from other parts of the world to the U.S. Agecroft Hall, a Lancashire Tudor House, was moved to Virginia in the 1920s.

From the cover:
There is a hidden garden bordering the grounds of Jane Steward's book-themed resort - a garden filled with beautiful but deadly plans such as madrake and nightshade. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls and accessible only through a single locked door, as described in the pages of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel, the garden is of special interest to Jane's current group of guests, The Medieval Herbalist. But when one of them turns up dead, Jane must discover whether a member of the group has come to Storyton Hall to celebrate their passion for plant lore or to implement a particularly cruel means for murder.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson begins with a setting on the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast. Ellie Brook, a British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. The island has an interesting history much of which Ms. Lawrenson touches on, but I didn't find Ellie to be a character that was life-like. The book then skipped to The Lavender Field which appeared to have no connection to The Sea Garden novella. I didn't continue reading the second and third novellas, but after looking at some of the reviews, apparently the ending ties them all together. Instead of interspersing the past with the present, the novel is written separately. I think the interspersion might have made more sense to the reader.