Book Review: Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu

Four ways to pharaoh KhufuJust finished Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu! This adventure tale is by Alexander Marmer and can be found on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

Michael has dreamed of visiting the Egyptian pyramids since he was a child. On his first day in the country touring the Great Pyramid, he meets a dying German engineer who claims to have been poisoned. After giving Michael a business card for his daughter and a small notebook, his last words are “find four ways.” Michael begins an adventure beyond his wildest dreams, attempting to recover a stolen ancient stele, decode the dying man’s final words, and find the final resting place of the great Pharaoh Khufu. He is accompanied by the German’s daughter, Anna, and together they try to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death.

Strengths

This was a very well-written (and well-edited) book. That’s not to say I didn’t find a few typos, but obvious care went into the writing and research of this book. There is SO much fascinating history about Egypt and the pyramids included in this story! I learned more than I thought I’d ever know about Egypt in a single read.

The story line was exciting and full of action. I liked the main characters, Michael and Anna, and enjoyed going on the adventure with them.

Weaknesses

The main weakness for me–which may not be seen as a weakness by someone else–was simply the length of this book. Clocking in at 363 pages, I feel like the same story could be told at two-thirds the length. There were times when I simply couldn’t keep up with the complicated theories the characters uncovered about the pyramids. You almost need a larger base of knowledge about Egypt before starting the book to fully appreciate everything. The extent of my knowledge about Egypt comes from middle and high school history classes, so I’d say it’s pretty limited. By having such complicated and intricate sub-plots, the audience can become bored or feel alienated for not understanding.

Conclusion

It’s obvious an incredible amount of time and thought went into researching for this book. The characters go on a great adventure, survive car chases and murder attempts, recover an ancient artifact, and discover long-held secrets. I love the journey Michael goes on–he’s definitely my favorite character. My girly side wished there was a little more romance to the story; it’s totally set up for Michael and Anna to fall in love, but nothing really happens except mention that they steal glances at each other. And I wish the story was condensed a bit, more focused. I think this is a book that fans of crime fiction or books like The DaVinci Code would love. If that sounds like you go check this one out!!

4 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: The Marijuana Project

The_Marijuana_Project_Brian_Laslow_t580It took me a little longer than I had anticipated, but I finished Brian Laslow’s The Marijuana Project! Now, to be clear, I needed more time for reading due to several factors, mostly being that I had another big project I was working on that took up a lot of time. Also, The Marijuana Project is not a quick one-day read, but is loaded with fascinating backstory. I found this realistic novel on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

The Marijuana Project is about a successful security consultant named Sam, a conservative family man who is staunchly opposed to drug use of any kind. When a medical marijuana company offers him a well-paying job running security for their new facility, Sam doesn’t know if he should take the job. He accepts the position, albeit a little tentatively, but is resolved to do his job to the best of his ability. Then Sam starts receiving anonymous notes: on his windshield, while out of town on business, and to his email inbox, all targeting his ethical insecurity, trying to persuade Sam to help an anti-marijuana activist group burn his client’s supply of product.

Strengths

The quality of writing throughout the book is strong and clear. The main protagonist, Sam, is very cool. He’s smart, thorough in his work, has impeccable integrity and makes sure every decision he makes is in line with his personal code of ethics. I think integrity is an increasingly rare quality. It was refreshing to read about a character who continually strives to do what he believes to be right.

“Sam was a man of principle. He believed there was good and evil in the world and if good did not fight evil then it was as responsible for the result as evil itself.” (pg 167)

The Marijuana Project was also, at least for me, quite educational. I live in Colorado, a place where marijuana can be obtained from vending machines, yet I’ve somehow stayed relatively ignorant of many of the arguments on both sides of the debate. It was interesting to witness Sam’s journey as he wrestled with the pros and cons of protecting a substance he personally disagrees with. vending machine

The ending was a great twist, something I did not see coming.

Weaknesses

The main thing I wanted from this book was more action. The prologue is a flash-forward to the end where Sam is defending the marijuana facility from unknown assailants, bullets flying and a truly dire situation. With such an exciting beginning, I was expecting a little more action throughout the story and especially at the end. There were parts where Sam is describing aspects of his security systems that got lengthy and–I hate to say it–a little boring. Also some parts where Sam is doing research about the person or group who might be sending him notes or his internal ethical debates really slowed the story down.

Conclusion

Definitely an interesting book, different from anything else I’ve read. I learned a little more about the marijuana industry, a very current and relevant topic, and more about how much goes into security–something I can say I’ve never given much thought. If you are interested in learning more about the marijuana debate, are interested in security, enjoy ethical dilemmas, or stories with a healthy dose of mystery, then you will definitely enjoy The Marijuana Project!

4  out of 5 stars

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Schedule the author for your next book club meeting on Book Club Reading List

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Book review: The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

Gordonston LadiesI finished reading this gem over the weekend. What a great find! I found The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club here on Book Club Reading List.

Synopsis

A unique and comedic murder-mystery story by Duncan Whitehead, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club (GLDWC) features a wide variety of vibrant characters. In a quiet neighborhood deep in the old south in Savannah, three widowed southern belles enjoy their afternoons with a drink in the local park, letting their dogs get some exercise, and catching up on the most current local gossip. Mr Whitehead paints a detailed story of the residents of Gordonston, whose individual tales connect in unimaginable and delightfully entertaining ways. The first chapter introduces an assassin, lurking in the very park in which the old widows gossip, poised and ready to take out his next target. As we learn about the local inhabitants, their lies, hatred, and secrets, we are left to wonder who will be the target and who is responsible for murder.

Strengths

There are so many strengths to this book! It starts strong and is continually compelling straight through the end.

Good hook intro

As mentioned above, the first chapter pulls the reader in with a scene depicting an assassin getting ready to make his kill. I was immediately hooked and anxious to delve further into the story.

Strong, clear, and descriptive writing

The writing throughout GLDWC is rock-solid. The imagery is clear and concise, drawing the reader into the characters’ worlds. The following quote was one that I especially enjoyed:

“It was the kind of smile reserved for those who had seen all of life’s rich and diversified tapestries. It was the smile of knowledge, the smile of experience, the knowing smile that only the special among the aged can produce.” (page 41)

Well-developed characters

With such a large cast of characters, I’d imagine that it would be Gordonston Ladies 2difficult to persuade the reader to care and really get to know each one. In GLDWC, each character has a rich back-story, complete with families and relationships. My favorite character is Elliott. He has a fascinating history and seems to be a genuinely decent guy, but gets tangled up in some nasty drama with the neighbors. Before the present setting, he lived in Argentina just before getting married and met a very intriguing person. This mystery gentleman made an impressive impact on Elliott’s life. As a gift, he left Elliott an autographed book he said was his original work. It was entitled Mein Kampf. Wowza! Did Elliott actually meet Hitler??? Perhaps an alternate-reality version where he didn’t actually die at the end of World War 2 but escaped and somehow turned into a good person. He leaves Elliott his book with this quote:

“Do not judge me for what I was then, but for what I am now.” (page 50)

Cons

I feel like I have to really stretch to come up with any critical cons to this book. It truly was fantastic. The only negative I could maybe say is the pace felt a little slow in places. I was anxious for more clues to help me decide who was going to be murdered. However, I acknowledge that the developed stories are probably springboards for further plot in the following sequels. Getting to know the characters thoroughly required a little patience as a reader, but ultimately resulted in a strength for the book.

Conclusion

What a delightful read! I loved getting to know the characters and their drama. There is a clever humor throughout the story that I especially enjoyed. Overall, I am itching to get my hands on the next two parts of the trilogy! Go get your own copy here!! 5 out of 5 stars

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Buy it here from Book Club Reading List

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