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review 2018-08-10 22:30
BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN by Gilbert King, narrated by Kimberly Farr
Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found - Gilbert King,Kimberly Farr

The reason I requested this book from my library was because of Megan Abbott's 

excellent, succinct review, which can be found here: BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN



This is the shocking true story of a mentally challenged white man who was railroaded into confessing to a rape and who was then sent to a state hospital for over 14 years WITH NO TRIAL. It's a story of racism, small town corruption, networks made up of good old boys, and most importantly, a tenacious reporter named Mabel who never, ever gave up.


You know, I say it's a "shocking" story, but unfortunately, it's really not. Black or white, (mostly black), mentally challenged, and ALL poor-many people have not received a fair shake in this country over the years. It's unfortunate to note that many of them STILL are not receiving a fair shake. This book only proves how important a free press can be to the causes of justice and fair play.


Even though she has since passed of cancer, I feel the need to say WAY TO GO, Mabel! If it weren't for you, poor Jessie Daniels would probably have died in the state hospital.


Thanks to Megan Abbott for her intriguing review and thanks to my local library for providing the audiobook for free. Libraries RULE!

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review 2018-08-07 12:40
True-Blue Cowboy by Sara Richardson
True-Blue Cowboy - Sara Richardson

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this story quite a bit. I was really excited to give this book a try after reading a novella written by Sara Richardson recently and enjoying it. I was not disappointed. This book is listed as the fourth book in the Rocky Mountain Riders series but works perfectly fine as a stand alone novel. Once I started reading this story I didn't want to stop and ended up finishing it in a single day. I am so glad that I decided to pick up this book.

Everly lives on a farm and runs a farm to table restaurant. She is finally living the life that she wants and is very happy even when her livestock gives her a rough time. Mateo is a bronc rider who decides to buy some land as an investment. He feels a lot of responsibility for his family and worries about what will happen when he can no longer compete. The land that Mateo buys is the same land that Everly rents and had hoped to buy herself someday. An entertaining series of events leaves them sharing a home on the land and getting to know each other a lot better.

I loved Everly from the start. She isn't afraid of hard work and is a very patient person. She had been living a completely different life but realized that it wasn't really what she wanted so she made some changes and really is doing what makes her happy. Even when things don't go the way she hoped they would, she is able to stay positive and try to look for new solutions. Mateo really was a good guy as well. He bought the land in order to provide security for himself and his family. He really found himself in a difficult situation and didn't want to cause any trouble for Everly.

I loved these two together. They had a whole lot of chemistry from the very beginning and I think that it grew as they got to know each other better. Even when they seemed to be the opposite side of things the pull between them never stopped. I liked that they were honest with each other and seemed to want to open up to each other. It was just a whole lot of fun watching these two come together.

I would recommend this book to others. I had a great time with this pair and couldn't help but want to seem them make it work. I think that this book was a really nice blend of great characters, a believable romance, some humor, and a few intense moments. I would not hesitate to read more from Sara Richardson in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing).

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one. Everly and Mateo had quite a bit of chemistry with each other and their characters were very likeable. They did have some pretty big obstacles to overcome which was interesting to watch. There were a lot of interesting secondary characters that added to the book. 

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review 2018-08-06 23:05
Bittersweet (True North, #1) by Sarina Bowen 5 Star Review!!
Bittersweet (True North Book 1) - Sarina Bowen

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago. 

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Warning: Contains sexual situations, gourmet yumminess, a steamy outdoor shower and proof that farmers don't mind getting dirty.




Sarina Bowen writing at the top of her game. 

We get a lush second chance romance between Griffin and Aubrey. Farm and Orchard fun without the dirt and sweat. A really great family dynamic. Banter. A well paced plot.

This one just shimmers on the page. Really on point. The rest of the series is great too!

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review 2018-07-31 04:29
A Writer on the Run
True Fiction - Lee Goldberg

“Sorry I’m late,” Ian said. “I’ve been on the run all morning.”


It was a line worthy of Clint Straker and Ian knew it. He couldn’t stop being a writer, always thinking of the next line in one of his thrillers. But he was living a thriller now and it was no thrill at all.

This is one of those books that's super easy to write about -- if you like the premise of the book, you'll like the book. It's just that simple. The tricky part is finding someone who wouldn't like this premise.


Ian Ludlow, television writer turned thriller novelist, can't believe his eyes -- a terrorist attack in Hawaii went exactly the way that he designed and he's pretty sure that someone is trying to kill him. Ludlow was part of a group of writers (movie, TV, novelists) that came up with some scenarios for the CIA that terrorists might use, so the CIA could design counter-measures. This is a thing that actually happened (maybe still does) following 9/11, because writers have much better imaginations than government employees do. One of those scenarios is playing out in real life and Ludlow doesn't know what to do. Clearly someone out there doesn't want Ludlow spreading the word that he's the source for this attack.


Before he realizes what's happening, Ludlow is running for his life and has dragged Margo along with him. Margo's a dog-sitter, house-sitter, aspiring musician, and occasionally drives authors visiting Seattle to their signings. That's how this poor girl gets sucked into Ludlow's mess -- she saves his life (and then he returns the favor), dooming her to having to run with him.


Add in some over-the-top villains (I hope, see below), and Goldberg's signature wit and solid writing, and you've got yourself a winner.


This is a fast fun ride featuring about the most unlikely of all thriller protagonists. Ian Ludlow isn't really in any kind of shape; he has no skills with hand-to-hand combat, cars, or weapons -- his people skills are suspect, really; all he has going for him is a pretty agile mind. Margo's a little better off, but not much. They quickly run to the home of one of Ian's friends who lives off of the grid and is paranoid enough he'll believe their story. Which may not really be the strongest of qualifications, but they can't afford to be choosy. The three of them will have to figure out a way to survive -- and possibly stop whoever it was behind the attack.


Does anyone else remember Condorman? The Disney film about a comic book writer/artist who accidentally (very accidentally) becomes a super-spy? I was 7 or 8 when it came out and loved it. Anyway, I had a flash-back to that when Ludlow stumbles his way into taking out one of the many assassins that come after him -- one of the many times I had an honest audible response to this book (not a book I recommend reading in an ICU ward, for what it's worth, people tend not to like noises there).


Now, I called the villains over-the-top. I'm not really sure they are -- they seem over the top, but there's a little part of me wonders how hard it really would be for someone to pull off something like this. John Rogers, of Leverage, frequently talked about how some of their over-the-top bad guys were watered down versions of the real thing (because no one would believe the real thing). Take my word for it, I don't have time to track him down saying it. Let's put it this way -- they're perfect for this book, and like just about every thriller villain ever, it's best that they stay inside the book.


While he's telling a very fun story, Goldberg takes a little bit of time to satirize thrillers, thriller writings, and thriller heroes -- I loved every bit of that. It helps that Goldberg writes and reads the same books he's satirizing, so you know he does it with love and honesty. Some of the excerpts from Ludlow's books are just awful, it must've been hard to write (but so much fun). Ditto for the TV shows that Ian's friend Ronnie starred in, I really hope that those are things that Goldberg made up for this book (and fear they aren't).


This feels like Goldberg and Evanovich's Fox & O'Hare books, or maybe The Man with the Iron-On Badge (which features a protagonist only slightly more likely than Ian) -- not his more serious work like King City. The story moves quickly, deftly and will leave you smiling -- I can't imagine Goldberg writing a disappointing book at this point, I just don't think he can. Pick this up, you will be entertained.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/30/true-fiction-by-lee-goldberg-a-writer-on-the-run
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review 2018-07-30 20:33
The Cases that Haunt Us
The Cases That Haunt Us - John E. Douglas,Mark Olshaker

     I have previously read Douglas' The Anatomy of Motive, and it quickly became one of my favorites, so I simply had to get my hands on more Douglas. The true crime section of bookstores where I live is scant, but I got lucky visiting my grandparents in Texas and found The Cases that Haunt Us in a used bookstore (as well as approximately 15 other true crime books... oops). I brought The Cases that Haunt Us with me while on a trip to Boston, and it kept me company on plane, train, and subway alike. Overall, I would have to say it's a good read, but not Douglas' best work by a long shot.


     The book seemed mostly geared towards people who have a more passing interest in true crime. To be clear, I don't consider this a bad thing, but as a result sections of the book read as simplified to me. As someone who is very enthusiastic about the topic, the book was a little disappointing due to this; I wanted some more in-depth detailed analysis, a deeper dive into the evidence and connections.


     Many of the cases had evidence or theories that Douglas skipped over (Um, hello Burke Ramsey??), while the older cases (Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Bordon) were a little lackluster when it came to his overview of the crime/s. Of course, that is partially due to the age of the crimes, but there was still evidence that  This is contrasted with the newer crimes, however, as the overview of the cases went on for a little too long. Perhaps it is my own personal preferences (as the Lindbergh and JonBenet cases do not interest me) but the case summaries dragged on for far too long. 


     On the topic of the JonBenet Ramsey case, I honestly feel as though the entire chapter-- and case-- should have been cut from the book. This chapter was both the longest and the worst in the book. Not because it was bad writing, but due to Douglas' personal involvement with the case the chapter read as being somewhat biased (despite Douglas' insistence that his analysis was unbiased). He takes time to explain and defend his own actions and choices. While I appreciate his transparency, the earlier chapters had a draw the JonBenet chapter did not. They were unbiased analysis from an outsider's standpoint. This chapter read mostly as "This is why this guy's opinions on my opinions as to what I said are wrong, obviously, and also here is why I chose to do what I did on this case. Oh also Patsy definitely didn't do it". He also skipped over the theories of Burke's involvement completely, even though if he wanted to dismiss that theory it would be easy enough to do with his expertise. Perhaps it was cut because the chapter was too long, but it's absence weakened the chapter even further.


     This book is, overall, one that suffers from a balance issue. What analysis of the offender there is in the chapters is good, and Douglas clearly explains the connections between the crime scene and the offender's behavior. There could be more, though, so some of the explanations tend to be disappointing. For example, the chapter on Zodiac; interesting because of the nature of the case, interesting because of Douglas' analysis of the letters, and interesting because of the strategies to lure him out Douglas discusses, but overall disappointing due to the lack of a really in-depth dive. The chapter on the Zodiac is only 47 pages long. Some of the chapters-- like Zodiac-- are too short, others are, comparatively, too long. The final chapter-- in which Douglas offers an explanation as to why it is these cases that have so strongly entered the public conscious-- is disappointingly brief at only 5 pages, though he makes some good points.


As a true crime writer, Douglas is meh. As a behavioral analysis writer, he's amazing; his issue was that he leaned too heavily on the former rather than the latter for this book. His trademark transparency, respect for everyone involved in the case, and fair criticisms of the media and the handling of cases were present in this book, though, which are all features many true crime writers often miss out on.


      I probably wouldn't suggest this book to anyone who already knows quite a bit about these cases; the book is more likely to frustrate you with what it leaves out. However, for someone who is just dipping their toes into the pool of true crime or behavioral analysis, it's a good introduction to some of the cases that haunt us.

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