Salavage by Duncan Ralston

SalvageSalvage by Duncan Ralston

Something is Lurking Under the Lake…

When Owen Saddler’s little sister mysteriously drowns, Owen is determined to uncover the circumstances by following in her footsteps, even if it means diving into the murky–some would say haunted–waters of Chapel Lake.

Thirty years earlier, the town of Peace Falls had been flooded to build a hydroelectric dam, and its ruins remain below the surface of Chapel Lake. The strange disappearance of the town Pastor, along with many of the parishioners, still haunts the citizens of Chapel Lake. But does the church haunt the lake itself? Is Owen really seeing ghosts… or has he descended into the depths of madness?

Salvage is the debut horror novel of author Duncan Ralston (Gristle & Bone). A darkly disturbing story of depression, religious fanaticism, and the afterlife, Salvage seeks to illuminate the evil within us all.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This author knows how to write a truly terrifying story. I like that in a person.

I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. It was mysterious and I was immediately drawn to the main character. The author did an excellent job of creating a solid back story for his characters and he revealed it a little at a time with no major information dumps ruining the rest of the book.

This novel has many of the traditional creepy aspects of a good horror story, but also combines those with a mystery that you can’t solve until the very last page.

I liked the Hellfire and brimstone feel of this book and thought the paranormal aspects were handled well, not coming off as ridiculous or inappropriate to the scenes where they appeared.

The idea of the chapel in the lake was original, and frightening. Good descriptions of the town and the people in it also added to the scary atmosphere of this book.

Overall, this was a really entertaining and well-written book, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Science of the Magical by Matt Kaplan

Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to SuperpowersScience of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers by Matt Kaplan

From the author of The Science of Monsters, this engaging scientific inquiry provides a definitive look into the elements of mystical places and magical objects—from the philosopher’s stone, to love potions to the oracles—from ancient history, mythology, and contemporary culture.

Can migrations of birds foretell our future? Do phases of the moon hold sway over our lives? Are there sacred springs that cure the ill? What is the best way to brew a love potion? How do we create mutant humans who regenerate like Wolverine?

In Science of the Magical, noted science journalist Matt Kaplan plumbs the rich, lively, and surprising history of the magical objects, places, and rituals that infuse ancient and contemporary myth. Like Ken Jennings and Mary Roach, Kaplan serves as a friendly armchair guide to the world of the supernatural. From the strengthening powers of Viking mead, to the super soldiers in movies like Captain America, Kaplan ranges across cultures and time periods to point out that there is often much more to these enduring magical narratives than mere fantasy. Informative and entertaining, Science of the Magical explores our world through the compelling scope of natural and human history and cutting-edge science.–Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Need a bit of personality with your nonfiction? Enter Matt Kaplan. If you are on a quest to expand your brain and find magic, mythology, ancient lore and religion all to be interesting topics but can’t handle one more dry, unemotional observation, you should really consider giving this book a go.

I can’t honestly say that I have ever read a nonfiction book where the footnotes were funny, until this one. Matt Kaplan approaches science through a different perspective. Clearly he is intelligent and interested in many facets of the world around us and that comes through in his writing, but he approaches things in a way that makes the reader feel involved and keeps you wondering what he is going to conquer next. Through his recounting of personal experiences interwoven with scientific fact, he gives us a broader view of the topics at hand.

You’ll feel smarter after you read his work, but you won’t feel that usual brain burn that tends to follow reading a serious text. This would be a great book for older students, as it won’t put them to sleep. The author included a variety of different topics and made each one of them interesting and easy to understand.

Honestly, this is the most fun I’ve had with a nonfic in a long time, possibly ever. Highly recommended. Looking forward to checking out the author’s other work now.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Awake by Natasha Preston

AwakeAwake by Natasha Preston

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst I liked the idea behind this novel, I felt the execution was somewhat lacking. I struggled with getting into this book, since I didn’t find the main character’s personality to be very appealing. If I can’t relate to the MC, I have a hard time relating to the rest of the story.

The author has a good imagination, and some interesting ideas and I think this is a matter of staying tuned to see what happens next, after this book.

I thought the beginning of the relationship between the main character and her love interest had promise and hoped that would be the redeeming agent for the rest of the novel, but in the end, that did not happen in my opinion either.

I didn’t hate this book, but I can’t recommend it as one of my favourites either.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery

If you are a Christian, or even if you aren’t and are just interested in religion or history, this may be very interesting to watch. Here is the trailer, and the press release is below.


CNN New Original Series FINDING JESUS
Blends Science and Archaeology
to Offer Fascinating Insights into
Well-Known Biblical Relics

Academics and theologians examine the value and authenticity of six objects which could shed new light on the historical Jesus
in show premiering March 1, 2015

NEW YORK, NY (Feb. 4, 2015) – Loved and worshipped by billions, Jesus of Nazareth is, unquestionably, the most famous person of the last 2,000 years. His influence on art, politics, education, literature, music, law, language, philosophy and philanthropy continues to this day. But he left no physical trace.

Or did he?

That’s the question at the forefront of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery, a CNN original series premiering March 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT that discovers fascinating new insights into the historical Jesus, utilizing the latest state-of-the-art scientific techniques and archaeological research. Part documentary exploring the marvelous and mysterious artifacts emanating from the world of the Bible, the series is also a thrilling and emotional drama, examining the Gospel characters and stories connected to these artifacts – the baptism, the betrayal, the Passion, the Resurrection and after.

Each episode of the six-part series investigates the value and authenticity of a historical object which could shed new light on Jesus: the Shroud of Turin, relics venerated as part of the True Cross, the gospel of Judas, relics believed to be of John the Baptist, the burial box of Jesus’ brother James and the gospel of Mary Magdalene.

A first-class panel of on-screen contributors will provide expert comment – academics from the world’s best universities including Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Oxford provide historical and theological insight, while the likes of Father James Martin SJ (the editor of ‘America’ the United States’ national Catholic magazine), the Rev. Paul Raushenbush (executive religion editor of the Huffington Post), and Erwin MacManus, senior pastor of MOSAIC Los Angeles, help bring our characters and their emotional journeys to life for our audience.

Also appearing to offer expert analysis throughout the series is David Gibson, an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who specializes in covering the Catholic Church. He is co-author of the series’ companion book from St. Martin’s Press, also titled Finding Jesus, due to be released Feb. 24.


About Nutopia Productions:
Nutopia is a television company with offices in the UK and US. Founded in 2007, Nutopia is best known as creators of the ‘mega doc’ and produces factual programming for networks including HISTORY, DISCOVERY, CNN, BBC, CNN, ITV, C4 and National Geographic.

About CNN Original Series:
The CNN Original Series group develops non-scripted programming for television via commissioned projects, acquisitions and in-house production. Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development, oversees CNN Original Series and CNN Films for CNN Worldwide. Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions, works directly with filmmakers and producers to develop original projects for CNN Original Series and CNN Films.


Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

In the tradition of Kate Mosse, a swiftly-paced mystery that stretches from modern London to Tudor England

In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica. Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work. He’s also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House.

In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished. In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets. Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to puzzle out—at their own peril.

This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.–Description from Goodreads

Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: April 4th 2013
by Viking Adult
(ISBN13: 9780670025930)
edition language
You can find this book HERE
My thoughts on this novel
Bristol House is the first of Beverly Swerling’s novels that I have read. I think I might be hooked. This book deals with both the past and the present and then ties them together in a seemingly effortless way.

Anyone who has studied religious history will clearly see how much reality is presented in this fictional tale. The author has done her research for this book and that made it a very enjoyable and ultimately unforgettable read.

I really liked the main character Annie. She was on point throughout the book and even though she found herself in a difficult to believe situation, she didn’t waste chapters self-doubting and trying to ignore what was plainly in front of her. Okay, so she is aware that there is the apparition of a dead monk in her flat, but she keeps moving. That’s my kind of heroine.

The romance in this work is evenly paced and believable and something that felt natural as the pages turned. I liked the male lead and thought the author did a good job of giving him traits and qualities that made him a good hero.

The dual time periods the author deals with make this a more interesting read than if all of the story had been told in only the present. I like the way she chose to shift between present and past and never felt lost or confused by the transitions.

In the end, this is a book that I would read a second time. I liked the overall story and didn’t have any trouble staying up late to finish this. I would recommend it to other readers who enjoy their fiction to be of mixed genres.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher.