Tag Archives: Prometheus Books

Murder She Wrote

Stone Cold Dead

Stone Cold Dead: An Ellie Stone Mystery by James W. Ziskin (Prometheus Books, $15.95, 317 pages)

James W. Ziskin’s Stone Cold Dead is the third in a series of Ellie Stone novels (Styx and Stone, No Stone Unturned), each with a take on the heroine’s name. The young heroine is the journalistic version of fictional novelist Jessica Fletcher, she of Murder, She Wrote fame.

Stone is endearingly petulant, to the extent that that is possible.

Like Fletcher, Stone seems to forget that she is a writer, not a detective, and so does everyone else in the novel, including all of the law enforcement officials. In real life, it is hard to imagine that people would answer this reporter’s questions at all, much less without a lawyer – or that she would be permitted such access in the first place, but such license is often the basis of an enjoyable novel.

The book revolves around Stone’s investigation of the murder of 15-year-old Darlene Hicks and takes place over 29 days, from December 1, 1960, to January 28, 1961.

The characters are mostly likeable and realistic, and the writing generally holds up, with a few exceptions. For example, on pages 126-128, Ellie hospitably feeds a no-good townie in her apartment who may or may not be plotting to kill her. An editor might have been helpful here. In Ellie’s world it is anything for a story, but still….

This book is better than most mystery/crime novels I’ve read and/or reviewed. The basis for this statement is that there is a much better attempt by the author to actually tell a story as opposed to plugging settings and characters into a formula. For that reason – and because the storytelling engages the reader – my rating of Stone Cold Dead is above average as compared to other books of this genre.

Well recommended.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher. “Ellie Stone is the kind of gal you’d want to share a malt with… or a fifth of Scotch.” Matt Coyle, author of Yesterday’s Echo and Night Tremors.

Dave Moyer is an educator who has published Superintendent and Teacher Perceptions of Performance Based Pay (Lambert Academic Publishing). He is also the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.

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The Science of Consequences

The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World by Susan M. Schneider (Prometheus Books, $21.00, 383 pages)

Consequences motivate: Newborns work to hear their mother’s voices. Toddlers graduate to turning lights on and off for that lovely, surprising feeling of control.

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The title of this book proclaims that much information will be gained by the reader – and how! My review copy is festooned with flags marking the three main components: Part I, Consequences and How Nature – Nurture Really Works; Part II, There’s a Science of Consequences?; and Part III, Shaping Destinies.

Consequences shape our choices, and our choices shape us and our societies.

Susan M. Schneider is a biopsychologist whose expertise in nature-nurture relations and the principles of learning from consequences has garnered an international reputation. While Ms. Schneider has the ability to provide detailed and esoteric writing on her favorite subject, she proves that she is capable of presenting the same information in a specific and detailed way that is user-friendly for a curious reader.

The Science of Consequences falls somewhere midway on a scale that would measure pop culture on one end and scientific literature on the other. Charming illustrations lend a human and grounding touch to the text. Ms. Schneider uses personal references that soften the somewhat text book denseness of her work. Her references to past and future paragraphs tend to point up the casual approach that this reader took in reading the book. It’s a bit unsettling to consciously accept that a review reading is not prompted by a personal need. Regardless, the flow and logical elements separating the basic concepts being presented make for a comfortable reading experience.

Rest assured that a reader who seeks out this book for its subject matter and relevance to personal interests will certainly benefit from using it as a guide. The extensive chapter notes, bibliography and index all support the material being presented.

Well recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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A review of The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World by Susan M. Schneider.

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In the Mood

Mood: The Key to Understanding Ourselves and Others by Patrick M. Burke (Prometheus Books, $18.95, 275 pages)

Mood

Mood (nook book)

Patrick Burke has written a straightforward and detailed layman’s textbook that explains the importance of recognizing behavioral problems early in life. Before emotions and feelings there is mood. Typically, we think of observable signs like irritability, hostility and withdrawal as key elements associated with psychological issues. What we don’t take into account is that one’s mood is always – for better or for worse – present. For example, it can be happy or anxious. We usually aren’t aware of our mood until it begins to shift.

Mood sets out the scientific explanation of the brain’s structure and the interactions of the physical and chemical elements that allow it to function. There are diagrams and ample text to support the hypothesis that mood exists within us even before we are born. It is the combination of genetic material and environmental influences with mood that are observable as behavior. The accompanying narrative provides the reader with useful, practical information contained within scenarios.

Mood supplies parents and caregivers with valuable guidance that can demystify the difference between occasional behavioral issues in children and/or adults and mental problems that need attention.

Well recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was received from the publisher. Mood was released on November 11, 2013.

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A review of Mood: The Key to Understanding Ourselves and Others by Patrick M. Burke. “A reader-friendly yet in-depth overview of the latest research on mood as the way we are tuned to the world.”

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Bad to the Bone

The Complete Book of Bone Health by Diane L. Schneider, M.D. (Prometheus Books, $21.00, 491 pages)

Your skeleton is more than a bunch of bones.   Dr. Diane Schneider, a gerontologist specializing in the effects of aging on our bones, has crafted a wonderfully helpful and easy-to-use reference book – a comprehensive summary of the best research regarding osteoporosis, bone fractures and the medications that can assist in rebuilding bone mass.

All six parts can stand alone or the reader can proceed from beginning to end.   Regardless, the general layout of the narrative along with the generous use of bullet points, summary statements and anecdotal case histories makes it a go-to reference for the entire family.   There are illustrations that provide clarification of medical terms.

Dr. Schneider is able to convey critical information using a caring, but firm voice.   Her colleagues and other researchers are well-represented and acknowledged.   The many charts included in the treatment section list all the medications currently prescribed, calcium-rich foods, and study results related to bone density improvement and osteoporosis prevention.   Exercises are noted with ample warnings to avoid fractures and breaks.

Let’s hope there will be future updates to this very valuable resource.   Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   The Complete Book of Bone Health is available in hardbound and trade paperback versions, and as a Kindle Edition download.   The foreword was written by astronaut Sally Ride.

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