RSS

Category Archives: Book 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: , , , ,

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: , , , , , ,

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: , , , ,

Review – The Riddle of the Labyrinth – Margalit Fox

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
Author: Margalit Fox
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization that flowered on Crete 1,000 years before Greece’s Classical Age, he discovered a cache of ancient tablets, Europe’s earliest written records. For half a century, the meaning of the inscriptions, and even the language in which they were written, would remain a mystery. Award-winning New York Times journalist Margalit Fox’s riveting real-life intellectual detective story travels from the Bronze Age Aegean–the era of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Helen–to the turn of the 20th century and the work of charismatic English archeologist Arthur Evans, to the colorful personal stories of the decipherers. These include Michael Ventris, the brilliant amateur who deciphered the script but met with a sudden, mysterious death that may have been a direct consequence of the decipherment; and Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the story whose painstaking work allowed Ventris to crack the code.

Review:
Over the last few years, I’ve been turning more and more to non-fiction books by choice when I find myself looking for new stuff to read. Its hard to describe why because growing up, I always avoided it like a bad smell (for lack of a better term), but I’ve discovered that non-fiction isn’t all that bad – especially, if its about a topic that catches my eye. This is probably a book I never would have discovered on my own, if it hadn’t been picked as a group read for a reading challenge that I frequently participate in – the Seasonal Reading Challenge on Goodreads (the specific reading category was “The Unexplained”).

For me, part of the reason I chose this over the 2 fiction options, was the idea of seeing how a mystery that existed for over half a century was solved. I remember going to see Stargate (the original with Richard Dean Anderson) when I was in high school – and seeing the process by which Daniel Jackson (the scientist) broke the code of the Stargate was probably one of the few parts of the movie that I enjoyed (not normally a huge sci-fi fan) – and since Riddle of the Labyrinth had a similar basis – I figured it was going to be an enjoyable read but I wasn’t prepared for how engaged I was going to be. I found myself attempting to sneak away and actually take a lunch break at work, so that I could read “just a little bit more.”

Riddle of the Labyrinth wasn’t a hard read – Fox has an engaging style of writing that was very personable for me – I felt like I was sitting with Alice Kobar in her small home as she worked on breaking the code. Although I will admit, reading about how she was treated by colleagues and others associated with breaking the code kind of irked me. I know that it was likely being that she was a product of the times – where women weren’t taken as seriously – but so many times, I just wanted to yell at the men to listen to her and treat her like the academic that she was (instead of like a secretary like she so often was treated as). Ultimately, the secret of the tablets wasn’t that profound – at the beginning of the book there was a hypothesis of what the tablets might potentially contain – seeing how that in part formed a basis for the research – made the anticipation of the mystery resolution all the more apparent.

I’m pretty sure that I will seek out Fox’s other book -her Goodreads page lists a book about a small town in Israel where the primary language is a form of sign language.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – Hot on Ice Anthology

Hot on Ice
Authors: Avery Flynn, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Nana Malone, Virginia Nelson, Xio Axelrod, Christi Barth, Andie J. Christopher, Kim Golden, Lena Hart, Desiree Holt, Robin Kaye, Katie Kenyhercz, Heather Long, Kate Meader, Angi Morgan, Susan Scott Shelley, Misty D. Waters

20% of royalties from sales of Hot on Ice will go to Homes for our Troops, a charity that builds specially modified homes for injured veterans.

Description:
Wow! Some of the hottest romance authors have banded together to write a hockey romance anthology for charity about a whole team of hockey players who win The Cup and fall in love in some hot, sexy stories.

Review:
Ok – now that I’ve finished fanning my face – because wowsers, i’m pretty sure Hot on Ice, may have melting the ice that the Cajun Rage played on when they won the cup. Pardon me in advance because I may go slightly fan girl during the course of this review (I mean, because with all these awesome authors – who wouldn’t!!). I will prefer this review with admitting that I always find it hard to write reviews for anthologies (especially ones with 18 different contributions) – because who wants to read a review that could run to multiple pages long…so I’m just going to hit a few highlights – but all I can say – is go and buy this book now! you won’t regret it (and if you do…well…ummm, yeah I got nada).

I love seeking out anthologies with multiple authors like this because its rare that a) I either know all the authors or b) all the authors are new to me – so I frequently get exposure both to new stories by old favorites (yes, I’m looking at you Kimberly Kincaid, Avery Flynn and Robin Covington) and well as new authors to check out (everyone that isn’t the afore mentioned 3 favorites!). For me the success of this anthology was the basis of how all the stories were partly inter-related – focusing around a championship winning hockey team and then each author taking their unique storytelling abilities from there.

Please don’t ask me to pick my favorite story in the anthology because I CAN’T! I mean, all things being equal – I can see myself going back and re-reading all the books in the anthology again in the future. So do yourself a favor, run, don’t walk to your nearest favorite ebook retailer and buy Hot on Ice!

Buy Links:
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jFsJg8
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fOCS8g
B&N: http://bit.ly/2gC6ceJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ggBnyg

Giveaway Link – click here to enter into a rafflecopter giveaway (chance to win a $25 Amazon Giftcard!)

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Blog Tour, Book Review, Review