RSS

Category Archives: Review

Review – Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon
Author: David Grann
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. The book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating.

Review:
Over the last few months I have been focusing more on reading non-fiction books because I’ve been feeling so burnt out on the vast majority of the fiction books that I’ve been reading (or trying to read). So when the quarterly reading challenge picked this book for the Summer reading challenge, I knew without a doubt which of the 3 choices I was going to read (the other options were Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel or Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead). What drew me to this was not on another series of events in history that I’d never heard about, but also because it was how the FBI came to play such an important role in law enforcement (in fact when the events in this book took place, FBI agents couldn’t legally arrest folks, they needed local law enforcement to actual arrest the folks).

The mystery surrounding the deaths of multiple Osage Indians was one that had spanned many years and different types of death, from execution style shootings, to a bombing to poisoning that appeared to mimic illness. There were few commonalities between the victims and witnesses and people trying to solve the murders were also being killed – it was a mystery that would take many years to solve. But there was one commonality between all the victims (but don’t worry, I’m not cruel enough to tell you what or who that is)…I will admit that for me, the solving of the murders and the steps that the FBI took to solve it, was more interesting to me than the background of the FBI (probably because I’ve read enough about J. Edgar Hoover to really not care too much although in part, his personality and persistant was key in the eventual solving of the murders).

More interesting to me was how the US government treated the Osage Indians who were all individually wealthy because of the discover of and subsequent selling of oil leases for their land and yet were treated like (for lack of a better term), delinquent children. Having guardians assigned to these Indians as a way to control them (needing approval to access funds that were rightly theirs, people marking up merchandise the Osage wanted to purchase 4-5x the normal cost and other shady business practices). This was another of those dark periods in history that are valuable to study and yet have been hidden away until an enterprising researcher discovers it and decides to start unraveling the mystery.

Killers of the Flower Moon was an solid mystery and intriguing examination of a lost time period. I found the pictures that were sprinkled throughout of the victims and the FBI agents who eventually solved the crime, as well as the murderer(s) themselves. A solid 4 star read.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Review – Riptide – Skye Jordan

Riptide
Author: Skye Jordan
Series: #6 in the Renegades series

**Review Copy Provided by Author**

Description:
When pro surfer Zach Ellis isn’t traveling the world-wide competition circuit, he works as a Renegade stunt double for the hit TV series, Hawaiian Heat. After years of tangling with the ocean, his body has paid the price. So when he gets a shot at a star role on the show, Zach’s all in. He celebrates the career opportunity by taking a chance on a woman who’s not his usual island-girl type, only to discover he can’t bear to let her go.
 
Tessa Drake belongs mired in legislation battles in Washington DC, not standing on the sidelines of a filming set in Maui like a wannabe starlet. But even more important than her law career, Tessa needs Zach Ellis’s signature on legal papers. Papers that relinquish his parental rights so Tessa can adopt the girl who already calls her mommy. When she discovers Zach has slipped out of town before she makes contact, Tessa takes solace in the sexy star of Hawaiian Heat. A man whose warmth and dazzling grin makes her Mensa-level IQ vanish into thin air.
 
After an electrifying night together, Tessa is horrified to discover just who rocked her world. Zach is stunned to learn he’s a father. And both find themselves caught in a riptide pulling them in the opposite direction of their dreams.

Review:
I’ll admit, when I first got the email from the author asking if I would be interested in reviewing her newest Renegades book, I was a bit skeptical because I’ve been in a serious reading slump lately – I think I’ve had more 1-2 star reads in the last month than all of last year. But since I’ve pretty much wholly enjoyed all the previous books written by her – I figured what the heck and said, sure I would love to read it. And it did the trick to help pull me out of my slump!

Previous to this, I’d only read the first book in the Renegades series, but I will definitely be adding the other ones to the TBR pile (or borrowing via KU) in the near future. This was one of those books that just tugged at my heart-strings with the storyline (adoption, single mom) and add in the hot hunky stunt double (who was a former pro surfer – ummm yes please) for a solid romance that just made me all happy inside. Unlike many books I’ve read that feature children, where they kind of just stay off to the side, Ms Jordan made sure that Sophia was integral to the story – I laughed at some of the one-liners she came up – total gems that you would expect to hear from a 3/4 year old as well as the portrayal of the epic kid meltdowns (you know, when you just look at them wrong and the world implodes).

I also learnt a lot about legislative law (which I’d never really heard of before this) – aka, the lawyers that work with politicians to craft the bills that go before congress. I applaud the author for maintaining a very even keel POV on something that is often so fraught with emotions (never really demonizing any one group of people that play a role in the process). I always love when I learn new things from reading romance novels 🙂

I know that I’m looking forward to going back and reading the intervening books in the Renegades series, as well as more books by Syke Jordan in the future. A solid 4 star read and a recommendation for anyone who likes action driving contemporary romance.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , ,

Audiobook Review – Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: #1 in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Audiobook Narrator: Nicola Barber
Run Time: 9hrs, 26min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Review:
I have to admit that the premise of Stalking Jack the Ripper intrigued me, but I was a bit disappointed with how it all played out. I liked the idea of a female practicing forensic medicine in this time era – since it was so not done. But Audrey Rose as a character was horribly annoying and for someone as skilled as she was supposed to be in understanding people and crimes, also naïve. Now I will say that Thomas Creswell will definitely described as being eye (and most definitely ear candy).

The historical aspect of the story was fun and I liked how the author took portions of the real history about Jack the Ripper and his victim’s to make the story more believable. There was a pretty substantial author’s note at the end went into some more detail about why she opted to cover the parts that she did. But when considering both the character development and the historical aspects of the story – the historical definitely won out over the actual characters in the story. I did like how the author tied the story up at the end, so there were no open ends…but don’t worry – I won’t tell you guys what happened because that would ruin all the fun 🙂

Nicola Barber isn’t a new narrator to me (although I’m totally blanking on what else I’ve listened to her narrate right now) and I enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper more than I may have if I had read it. I found that she had a solid range of voices that fit all the different characters from the naïve young girl, to the hot forensic science student to Audrey Rose’s cantankerous old father. I never had any moments where I had to stop and think about what character was speaking at a given time. In fact, I found myself hoping for some traffic on my commute home (yeah, I should probably burn in hell for that), so I could listen to a bit more. While I wanted to slap Audrey Rose upside the head, at least the narration was solid.

I’m kind of conflicted if I will read (or most likely listen) to the second book when it comes out – I kind of what to and yet, if Audrey Rose is as naïve in the next one, I just don’t know…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Audiobook Review, Review, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – The Negotiator – Avery Flynn

The Negotiator
Author: Avery Flynn
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
Wanted: Personal Buffer

Often snarly, workaholic executive seeks “buffer” from annoying outside distractions AKA people. Free spirits with personal boundary issues, excessive quirks, or general squeamishness need not apply. Salary negotiable. Confidentiality required.

Workaholic billionaire Sawyer Carlyle may have joked he needed a “buffer” from their marriage-obsessed mom, but he didn’t need a waiting room filled with “candidates” to further distract him. (Thanks, bro.) But when a sexy job applicant shooes his mom and the socialite in tow out of his office, Sawyer sees the genius of the plan. And the woman. In fact, Miss Clover Lee might just get the fastest promotion in history, from buffer to fake fiancé…

This “free-spirit” might look like hot sunshine and lickable rainbows, but she negotiates like a pitbull. Before Sawyer knows what hit him, he’s agreed to give up Friday nights for reality tv, his Saturdays for flea markets (why buy junk still baffles him), his Tuesdays and Thursdays for “date nights” (aka panty-losing opportunities if he plays his cards right). And now she wants lavender bath salts and tulips delivered every Monday?

Yup, she’s just screwing with him. Good thing she’s got this non-negotiatable six-weeks-and-she’s-gone rule or Sawyer may have just met this match…

Review:
I don’t know if I was in a bit of a reading funk, or if real-life was just kind of overwhelmed – but this wasn’t my favorite Avery Flynn (and it kills me to say that because she is an auto-buy author for me). Don’t get me wrong – it was cute definitely a cute romantic comedy with her trademark snarky humor and hot in places – but I just wasn’t as sucked into it as I have been with previous books. Other books by hers, I’ve based closed myself off to read it – but when it came time to read this one – I just didn’t have the time to do that (which might have contributed to my lack of concentration when it came to reading).

I will admit that I found Clover to be one of the more unique characters that I have read recently which did contribute to my enjoyment level – she was kind of quirky in a relatable way. But Sawyer just seemed very much in the hard-working young billionaire character mold (which if I’m honest, is not a character that I typically find myself attracted too). So my enjoyment of the two main characters kind of played off each other. The actual “relationship” negotiation was one of my favorite parts of the story (as well as the scene in the diner early on after Clover’s first event as Sawyer’s Personal Buffer (now, if I could be the buffer for him, sign me up please 🙂 )

The Negotiator was a solid 3.5 stars for me – and I do recommend it to anyone who likes snarky romantic comedies (and I have no doubt that I’ll maybe re-read it in the future, to see if maybe this is a mood based rating that could change).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , ,

Review – Angel of Death Row – Andrea D. Lyon

Angel of Death Row
Author: Andrea D. Lyon
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded. Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence, they deserved a chance at redemption.

Now, for the first time, Lyon shares her story, from her early work as a Legal Aid attorney to her founding of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases. Full of courtroom drama, tragedy, and redemption, Angel of Death Row is a remarkable inside look at what drives Lyon to defend those who seem indefensible—and to win.

There was Annette who was suspected of murdering her own daughter. There was Patrick, the convicted murderer who thirsted for knowledge and shared his love of books with Lyon when she visited him in jail. There was Lonnie, whose mental illness made him nearly impossible to save until the daughter who remembered his better self spoke on his behalf. There was Deirdre, who shared Lyon’s cautious optimism that her wrongful conviction would finally be overturned, allowing her to see her grandchildren born while she was in prison. And there was Madison Hobley, the man whose name made international headlines when he was wrongfully charged with the murder of his family and sentenced to death.

These clients trusted Lyon with their stories—and their lives. Driven by an overwhelming sense of justice, fairness, and morality, she fought for them in the courtroom and in the raucous streets, staying by their sides as they struggled through real tragedy and triumphed in startling ways. Angel of Death Row is the compelling memoir of Lyon’s unusual journey and groundbreaking career.

Review:
Its always interesting to see where my Goodreads challenge reading takes me, since I know that the Angel of Death Row is likely not a book I would have picked up, if I wasn’t looking for a non-fiction book with a specific theme. These theme (in homage to the pioneering women in Hidden Figures), a non-fiction book about a women who was first to do something significant (which Ms Lyon most definitely did). I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical going in – I mean, when I think about Death Penalty cases – visions of people like Jodi Arias come to mind or the scene from The Green Mile (where they are using the electric chair) and my thought pattern was how can she defend people who seem indefensible (yes, I know that everyone deserves the best defense they can afford by our constitution), but its still hard for me…but that wasn’t what I got.

As soon as I started reading Angel of Death Row, I felt drawn to Ms Lyon – it was interesting seeing how when she made up her mind on her career pathway that nothing derailed her and seeing how she knowingly made choices that would set her career on the trajectory to become the first female to try a death penalty case in the US. Added to that, her experience as the only female on Task Force Homicide which was part of the Public Defender’s Office (which by the way, why do we never see anything more than the slovenly public defender on TV who is quickly replaced by a high-powered shark of a lawyer, who swoops in to save the day) – made her career progression all the more intriguing – I haven’t read a lot of biographies about individuals in the legal field (lawyers or judges) – so I can’t say what I expected a typical career to look like, but this isn’t what I expect (yeah, I know, totally vague there)…

It’s hard to go into the different cases that were mentioned in Andrea’s book – several of them are mentioned in the books description – but in so much more color/detail – at times, I felt like I was sitting in a kitchen with Ms Lyon while she interviewed a witness or trudging the streets with her while she tried to find that one person who would be able to exonerate her client. But her career wasn’t all roses, she had her ups and downs and in the writing of her book, she didn’t shy away from talking about those issues – including the impact that such a career has on a personal life.

I believe that Angel of Death Row should be a required reading book for law students, especially those who are maybe considering defending or prosecuting individuals charged with homicide. There is something that everyone could learn from reading it. I’ll be interested to see what derivative recommendations I get based on my reading of the Angel of Death Row.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Audiobook Review – The Marriage Games – C.D. Reiss

The Marriage Games
Author: C.D. Reiss
Series: #1 in the The Games Duet
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Elena Wolfe, Sebastian York
Run Time: 9hrs, 15min
Audiobook Producer: Flip City Media Inc.
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
THIRTY DAYS
That’s all Adam Steinbeck demands of his wife.
Thirty days in a remote cottage, doing everything he demands. After that, he’ll sign her divorce papers and give her complete ownership of their company.
THIRTY DAYS
That’s how long he has to rediscover the man he once was. The Dominant Master he hid when he fell in love with her five years ago.
THIRTY DAYS
She wants the business they built badly enough to go to the cottage for a month. Cut off ties to the world and do his bidding. She can submit to him with her body, but her heart will never yield.
She thinks this is his pathetic attempt to repair their marriage.
She’s wrong.

Review:
The Marriage Games is the second of the two books in my Armchair Audies listens that I had previously read prior to the nominees being announced. I discovered C.D. Reiss last year when her Coda series was nominated for another Audie – so I was excited to see her with another nomination this year. But I will its hard to describe the initial disappointment I felt when I read The Marriage Games earlier in the year – reading it, I just didn’t feel the emotion that I felt like I should have – I just felt really detached from the whole storyline – which is a complete opposite experience to how I felt when I listened to it more recently.

Anyways, since I had already read The Marriage Games, I was able to invest myself more fully into my enjoyment of the audiobook – since I knew what was going to happen (although as normal, I did discover that there were things I had missed in my initial reading of it – which considering how long it took me to read it initially, is surprising). Since I was able to focus more on the audio than the story – let me tell you how much I LOVED the narration by Elena Wolfe and Sebastian York! I know like knees going weak, making me want to drool in sexiness type narration! (and I don’t say that often).

I love how audiobooks with dual narrators has developed over time – I have listened to all different combinations – predominantly one narrator with highlights of an other, narrators that alternate POV’s, but still narrate opposite gender if they appear in that specific POV and then there is a true duet, like the Marriage Games, where Elena and Sebastian were fully integrated so that Elena did all the female narration and Sebastian all the male – it was like listening to an actual conversation where there were multiple men and women speaking in a holistic way. I actually enjoyed my listen of the Marriage Games so much, that I went ahead and bought the second book in the duet (Separation Games) to listen to as soon as I was done – which I hadn’t felt inclined to do after I finished reading it a few months previously.

The Marriage Games was definitely a case where 2 brilliant narrators took a slightly less than impressive book (at least to me) and elevated it to knee-weakening level. While my rating for the Marriage Games stayed at 3.5 stars, the audiobook narration was easily 4.5 stars. Elena Wolfe and Sebastian York is a narrator duet that I would love to see more of.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – Delectable – Mila West

Delectable
Author: Mila West
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Catherine Rousseau is an ambitious senator with a painful past. She sacrifices herself for her country and knows how to get what she wants. When she sets her sights on the Oval Office and amending the Constitution, she can’t afford to be distracted. Especially not by Harrison Parker, the sexy and brooding senator newly appointed to Congress.

But when they’re thrown together and their goals collide, will they find themselves chasing justice . . . and each other?

Review:
It isn’t often that I find a romance that features not one but two politicians and even less rare that they are on the same political party as each other…because that opposing party definitely would add tension to the story. So when I came across Delectable (via Kindle Unlimited), I was intrigued and so borrowed it to read. And then it languished on my kindle for close to a month (yeah, i’m one of those KU readers).

anyways, my biggest desire when I finished reading Delectable (and it only took me like an hour) was that it was slightly longer (it came in at just over 100pgs). I believe it had so much more potential with a more developed storyline – but instead I felt like portions of it were rushed and just felt like it was missing something. The end was satisfying and for me, the epilogue added that needed closure to Catherine and Harrison’s story.

While I enjoyed reading Delectable, and felt that Ms West had an engaging writing style, I ultimately needed a bit more to the story to give it a higher rating. I do hope to read more by her in the future.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , ,