Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Jillian Medoff's This Could Hurt


A few years back I watched a movie called The Best of Everything starring Joan CrawfordSuzy Parker and Hope LangeIMDB states the movie is about "an exposé of the lives and loves of Madison Avenue working girls and their higher ups." Wikipedia explains it a lot better:

"The movie relates the professional careers and private lives of three women who share a small apartment in New York City and work together in a paperback publishing firm."

For me, Wikipedia has it right. Whomever wrote the article also called it a 'romantic drama film'. It's that as well. In all, it's a great film that I feel everyone should watch, male or female because it gives an inside look at how office politics work, how the higher ups think and act (or react) and how the business world hasn't changed much since the 50's. The only difference is there are computers on desks and mobile devices in hands.


I came across The Could Hurt via Goodreads and reading the summary of the book reminded me of The Best of Everything. I've read a review stating that this book reminded someone of the show Mad Men and some elements of Mad Men were taken from this book. I haven't seen Mad Men so I can't validate this statement, but I thought it was worth putting out there.


The book is set in 2008-2010 during the recession that effected a lot of businesses. Not just those in the real estate industry, but businesses all over. But it's more than just that. It's about the going-on in the prestige research firm Ellery Consumer Research in New York. This is one of those companies everyone strives to get a job in after college. But the office politics and lay-offs can become too much for some, as with any job as well as not feeling appreciated for the work one puts in.


As with The Best of Everything, This Could Hurt centers on a group of employees at Ellery, starting with Rosa, the Chief of HR (human resource). We witness the ups and downs of working at a prestige company, which includes layoff, family life, lack of family life or a family and the need to find something better when you feel you've reached your end at your current company. 

We are given insight in to each of their lives, personally and professionally and learn that working at prestige company is not cracked up to what people think and the people you think you can trust are the ones you shouldn't trust.

We are also privy to the shrewdness of layoffs. Most of us think it's our managers that determines who leaves and who stays in a time of downsizing, but, from my reading of this book, it's HR who determines that. Now, this may not be the case in all businesses, but it was the case at Ellery. However, HR (i.e Rosa) was not the only one playing a hand on who still has a job at the end of the week and who doesn't.

But the book doesn't just spend time in the office. It always spends times at people's homes and shows how a job can affect a family and what type of job can affect a family. For example, Kenny's (Manager oF Compensation and Operations), wife came from money and has acquired a high paying job herself. Kenny has always tried to live up to her standards. He wants to quit Ellery but can't tell his wife. Instead, he begins looking for work at another prestige company. But will it be enough personally and professionally for Kenny.

It's stories like Kenny's we can all relate to. There's also Lucy, a go-getter herself who can't wait to take Rosa's place as Chief of HR once Rosa retires. She'll do anything Rosa asks her to while mentally picturing herself behind Rosa's desk. We have Leo who is happy with his job, but is lacking in the love field. 

But the most pivotal part of the book is when tragedy strikes one of the employees and how in a time of need everyone came together. It's also during this tragedy that we see who comes out on top and who accepts their fate.


There are two reasons, actually a ton of reasons why I absolutely loved this book, but I'm only going to touch on a few.

This book is well written as well as easy to read. It doesn't bore you down with fantasy words or go into too much detail about people's past. It gives you the information you need while tying it in to their current situation. Medoff does a great job of keeping the flow of the book going to where it is a page turner. She sets up the players perfectly, as with Kenny looking for another job, and follows through with jaw droppers. She gives a human side to those who seem to have it all and shows that a high paying job has it's price.

This book felt too real to from the mind of a writer. As with Over My Shoulder (read my review) by Patricia Dixon (a book about domestic violence from the point of view of the victim), This Could Hurt could only be written from someone who either witnessed everything she's written or experienced it first hand. Here's a snippet of Medoff's biography (career wise):

Along with writing novels, Jillian has had a long career in management consulting. She’s worked for a wide range of employers, including Deloitte, Aon, Marsh & McLennan, Revlon, Max Factor and Medco, and is currently a Senior Consultant with a professional services firm, where she advises clients on how to communicate with employees during periods of organizational change. (source: Amazon)

No wonder the story and events in the book seemed so real. Only someone who has been through it could write something so hard hitting as this book. And it will definitely resonate with anyone who has been through a downsize, felt unappreciated at work or just wanted do and be more than they are at their current job. And let's not forget the pressure of the spouses who expect more and forget being in a relationship is about supporting each other and not tearing each other down. 

I highly recommend you get The Could Hurt when it comes out in 9 January 2018. And if you can, watch The Best of Everything. For those of you that watched Mad Men or are watching Mad Men via a streaming service, you'll enjoy this book.

I should mention that The Best of Everything is a book written by Rona Jaffee (1958) and a must read as well.

AUTHOR: Jillian Medoff
PAGES: 366
RELEASE DATE: 9 January 2018
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
WHERE TO BUY: For pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Charles Ray's Frontier Justice: The Story of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S Marshal

Bass Reeves knows the land they call Indian Territory in Arkansas as well as the surrounding areas. And because of this, Reeves is given a job as US Marshal by Judge Fagan. Only thing is, Reeves can't read nor write. Reeves was born into slavery and slaves weren't allowed to learn to read or write. He was to become a run away slave after roughing up his master up a bit over a card game. Bass hid in Indian Territory among the Indians until he knew things were safe enough for him to carry on his way. He would make a life for himself and his family by cultivating a farm.

Fagan has hired Reeves as a US Marshal (or Marshall) to serve warrants to a few outlaws, but with Reeves not being able to read this might be an issue. At least to Fagan. Reeves explains to Fagan that he has a great memory and if Fagan reads the warrants to Reeves he'll be able to do his job. Fagan tests Reeves by reading a warrant to him in which Reeves repeats all the details back to Fagan. With this, Fagan is satisfied and sends Reeves on his way to get his men.

Ray does give you a sense that you are there with Reeves and the other characters. I did have an issue with the writing itself, but as to not deter anyone else from reading the book, I won't say what my issues were. Although, as a reviewer, I do like to give the good and the bad of a book. However, this is my foray in to the old west genre and I will need to read a few more books order to validate or not validate my thoughts on the writing.

I will say, the book had me so intrigued that I looked Bass Reeves to see if he's was a real person and he was. You can read about Bass Reeves on the Legends of America site.

Pick up a copy of Frontier Justice: The Story of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S Marshal and let me know your thoughts. If you're not a fan of old west stories, I would still say give this a shot.

Frontier Justice: The Story of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S Marshal 

Author: Charles Ray
Publisher: Uhuru Press
Pages: 253
Release Date: 1 February 2014
Where To Buy: Amazon

Bass Reeves

Monday, November 13, 2017

M. William Phelps Don't Tell A Soul


Cherry Walker was a kind hearted 29 year old who matured mentally slower than the rest of us, but that's not to say she wasn't smart. Cherry loved everyone and everyone who met Cherry loved her. Her one joy in life, besides kids and her parents, was getting her done on Saturdays.

Cherry met Kim through an upstairs neighbor who used to watch Kim's kids. Kim's youngest son started being cared for by Cherry, which most thought shouldn't be the case since Cherry is child herself, mentally. But there was one quirk about Cherry, she loved horror movies and when I say love I mean LOVED horror movies. And because she wan't mature enough to understand, she would watch these movies with Timmy, Kim's youngest child she watched.

Cherry would soon be the star witness in Kim's custody hearing and the one who could expose Kim for the rotten mother and human being she was, but Kim couldn't let this happen and would do anything to prevent Cherry from testifying. With the help a male friend, Kim killed Cherry, burned her body and left her on the side of the road.


Kim felt she was entitled to her kids just because they were her kids. But then again, Kim always had this entitlement complex her entire life. Some make chalk it up to her being adopted and this effecting her self-esteem. But after reading this book and the despicable things Kim did to her kids and people around her who disagreed with anything she wanted to do, my bet is on Kim and no one or nothing else. Kim was just born bad and no amount of counseling would cure the evil inside of her.

She lived in complete filth. Had four kids by four different men. She yelled at her kids and physically abused them. She was just down right mean to her kids and degraded them any chance she got, especially the oldest boy Brian, whom she seemed to take her aggression on since he was a baby.

When Kim's ex-husband found out Cherry was taken care of Timmy he filed for custody (it was thing along with marks he saw on the kid's body - not from Cherry but from Kim) and paid with his life. As mentioned, Kim will stop at nothing to keep her kids from being taken away from her. She would also use people for the same purpose.


Kim needed people to be character witnesses for her so she went to her high school reunion to reconnect with a few people she was friends with in high school. After the reunion, she made sure to keep up the charade with one of her friends and in doing so, she was able to get this 'friend' to lie on her behalf through letters. Soon the friend was not feeling right about what she was doing, as well as realizing she could face prison time for falsifying information (she wrote what a great mother Kim was and such when the friend had never seen Kim with her kids) and stopped helping Kim. Let's just say Kim gave the friend a tongue lashing she'll never forget.


I'm not sure what gets into people who think killing others will make things better for them. I've always wondered where does the thought of causing harm and actually causing harm to others stop for us normal folks? And where is that lined blurred for people like Kim. How did she think she wouldn't get caught in the killing of Cherry Walker? Kim was so blinded by the fact that someone was going to tell her No by way of taking her kids away, her thought process only focused on stopping the one person who could stop her and who wasn't afraid of Kim. 

Cherry might have had the mind of a child but she had the heart of gold and ensuring the little boy be removed from the toxic environment (both by filth and his mother) was her goal. Cherry also wasn't afraid of Kim, which I think through Kim off her game and I think this added the need to kill Cherry for Kim.


This is another great book by Phelps. Anne Rule used to be my true crime author, but now it's Phelps. He has a way of telling stories that keeps you on the edge of your seat. His writing style puts you in the middle of everything so much so you want to warn those about to be killed or hurt.

Other books I recommend by M. William Phelps:
and his latest book Targeted: A Deputy, Her Love Affairs, A Brutal Murder (I will be doing a review of this book in about a month).

Author: M. William Phelps
Pages: 469 
Publisher: Pinnicle - 28 February 2017
Where To Purchase: AmazonBarnes and Noble, iBook

Tori Telfer's Lady Killers


When people think of female serial killers, they automatically think of Aileen Wuornos. Why? Because in the day and age of television and newspapers and the media just wanting to get that piece of news out, she became well known while she was alive. But she wasn't the first female serial killer and we may never know who was the first female serial killer by the mere fact that there were so many before her and more wicked than her.


It's hard to phantom a female being a killer, not to mention a cold blooded killer, but that's just what these females in the Lady Killers book by Tori Telfer were: cold blooded serial killers. Their primary weapon: poison. If you were a noblewoman back in the 16th and 17th century, or any century for that matter, then beating or torturing someone to death, mostly servants or Serfs, was the way to go. When they didn't want the cause of death to be detected, poison, particularly arsenic, was the weapon of choice. 


From reading this book, it seems the rich has always gotten a way with murder, literally, as they do today. And even when they got caught years later, they have gotten away with murder or murders. As mentioned, most noblewomen resorted to beating their servants, in the case of Erzsebeth Bathory or their Serfs in the case of Daryl Nikolayevna Saltykova. Because these women came from money and then married into money or men of noble status themselves, they were able to beat, torture and murder upwards of 50 people without being questioned. It wasn't until they fell out of a favor of those in power or, in the case of the King that owed money to the Bathory's, the King was no longer in their dept, the crimes of these women were investigated, found guilty and sentenced to death. 

Other women of means during the same time period was Marie-Madeleine who was convicted of killing her father, brothers, attempted murder of her sister and sister-in-law among other people. Her reason for killing was simple: they either stood in her way of money or disagreed with her. Unlike her counterparts who beat their victims, Marie's method of murder was poison.


A good point that was brought up in either in this book or an episode of Deadly Women or both is how some feel that poison is a coward's way to murder. That's far from the truth. With poison, unlike beating someone, strangling someone or shooting/stabbing them, poison takes time to work. The poisoner has to be patient, but also have the coldness to watch their victim die a slow and painful death. Arsenic was readily available for some time and thus the perfect poison to use. Why? With arsenic poisoning, when given in small dosages over time causes the following:

It could play a role in the development of diabetes, cancer, vascular disease and lung disease. The Food and Drug Administration says that long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer, as well as heart disease (google.com)

For a long while, arsenic was easy to get. No one questioned anyone buying arsenic, no matter how much they bought because arsenic was also used to kill rats. And back in those days in which arsenic was readily available tracking who bought it and how much was not necessary. 

A famous poisoner was The Giggling Grandma Nannie Doss. She was also known as the Lonely Hearts Killer for she would find lonely older men who had money, marry them, and then kill them. Her killing spree was from the 1920's to 1954.


Serial killers being men is the popular consensus. I think it's because men are more brutal in their acts. Men use guns or knives on their victims.They also leave a trail of blood. But when women kill, they do it silently via poison. Even today, women use poison such as antifreeze, to kill their victims including their own children.

Women are known to be nurturers, kind hearted (this is why Nannie Doss got away with it for as long as she did), mothers who love their kids. If the woman was good looking as in the case of Erzsebet Bathory and Marie-Madeleine no one EVER suspected them of killing any one. But if you weren't good looking, in the case of ahem, Wuornus, it's still hard to accept that fact that she would murder the number of people she did. And mind you, Wuornus's murders were brutal and bloody, like the women noblewomen of the 1600's and 1700's.


I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in murderers or murders, and trust me, we all wonder and want to know. But what I really enjoyed was the diverse group of women that became serial killers and their reasons. One thing they all had in common is they felt they would get away with it and when caught still maintained their innocence and used their feminine wiles to try to win either the judge or jury over. I was more intrigued by those from the 1600's and 1700's.

I find the most brutal of them all was Kate Bender of the Bender family who ran an Inn in the 1800's. Kate used a knife to kill her victims, but she wasn't alone in the killings but she was the most brutal.

Author: Tori Telfer
Released: 10 October 2017
Publisher: Harper Perennial sold by Harper Collins
Pages: 352
Available: AmazonBarnes and NobleiBooks

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Patricia Dixon's Over My Shoulder [Book Review]

Originally posted 9 Sept 2017


Freya, an early 20 something female, has a good job with a good company. She also is in a relationship with Ronnie of about two years. Then she meets dashing Kane at her job when he is there to deliver her boss's car to him.

Not only is Kane dashing, but he's polite, well spoken and a once in a lifetime catch. And he has eyes of Freya.


Kane knows how to play the game of manipulation and he plays it well. When the relationship starts, Kane takes Freya to the best restaurants to eat. Drives her in an expensive cars and showers her with gifts. He takes her to his apartment and treats her like she's never been treated before.
Freya is taken in by Kane. So much so she breaks it off with her boyfriend, Ronnie.

It's not long before Kane's true colors start come out but Freya refuses to listen to his rages and her friend Lydia's instincts about Kane. But it's not only Lydia that has some concerns, Freya's mother has some big concerns of her own. However, neither Lydia's warnings nor Freya's mother's warnings has an impact on Freya. All she sees is dashing Kane who has money and can give her the life she always wanted.


It's not until Freya is so deep into the relationship and has provided herself with countless excuses on why Kane behaves the way he does, that she realizes she's being held captive by an invisible wall called domestic abuse.

Kane not only becomes verbally and emotionally abusive towards Freya by disliking how she dresses or the things she eats (she was a conscious eater before meeting Kane), but it soon turns to physical abuse. Seemingly innocent evenings of watching a movie on TV and a slight comment from Freya can turn Kane into a raging maniac who sees Freya as a punching bag instead of his girlfriend.


Freya had seen signs early on but choose to ignore them. Was it out of desperation because she found the man of her dreams and was she afraid to let him go? Was it because she was enjoying the life he could provide her? Or was she, as mentioned earlier, too far in to leave?


Invisible walls are hard to break down. You know it is there but you can't see it. When Freya has to choose between her life (the spoils of being with Kane as well as the fear of leaving Kane) and her life (sanity, family and friends), which will she choose? Or is she too far in she can't get out?


I had trouble reading this book for two reasons: 1. The abuse was all to real. No, not to me on a personal level, just on a level that this really happens. And 2. Freya is an intelligent woman and her staying with Kane had me calling her an idiot through out the book. Freya was even calling her self an idiot for staying with Kane.

I have the pleasure of calling Patricia Dixon my friend and have had the pleasure of speaking with her. From out conversations I learned why the story seemed so real; because it is real. What Freya is going through is loosely based on the author's experience and the ordeal didn't end not so long ago for the author. Everything is still fresh with Ms. Dixon. I know time heals all, but some time it will always been like a fresh wound no matter how much time has passed.

Patricia Dixon
19 May 2017
454 pages
Highfield Press

Author's Facebook page: Patricia Dixon

Nicholas Nash's The Girl At The Bar [Book Review]

Originally posted 21 March 2017


I’m very much a creature of habit when it comes to most things in life. This applies to the books I read as well. Not so much the genre, but the author. I usually like to read from authors I already know such as Ann Rule, Patricia Cornwell, M William Phelps and Margaret Atwood. Getting used to another's form of writing is something I avoid. This is causing me to miss out on a lot of good books. But this time, I decided to veer off the beaten path and hit the road less traveled, by me at least.


I mostly flock to true crime books by Ann Rule or M. William Phelps (see my review of Obsessed here). I also enjoy fiction crime books such as those by Patricia Cornwell (All That Remains, Postmortem, Body of Evidence – these are her best works).  This is all before I met (via Facebook) and read Nicholas Nash’s The Girl At The Bar.


The Girl At The Bar is a mystery thriller set in modern day New York in which “Rebecca, a brilliant cancer researcher, disappears after a one-night stand with a neurotic man with a questionable past” (Amazon). As mentioned, I met Nicholas Nash on Facebook after friend requested me. I could resist accepting realizing he’s an author. It became more appealing when I learned this is his first book and it’s a mystery thriller. After obtaining a hard copy of the book (I normally prefer e-readers to adjust the font size – old eyes here) I began reading it straight away. I have to say, it’s been a long while since a book had me rapidly turning pages as this one did.


Rebecca Chase is a brilliant researcher who worked with Dr. Gupta on finding a cure for cancer. One night while in New York for a conference she meets a man at a bar and the next morning she disappears. Here’s an except from Chapter 6:

Day 5, Monday
East Village, New York City
Ragnar heard a loud knock on the door. It was a Monday morning and he wasn’t expecting anyone today. He had stopped the deliveries from FreshDirect, a popular online food delivery service in New York City, last month. As he started to cut back on his expenses, the grocery bills were now on the chopping block. Ragnar would walk several blocks to a neighborhood grocery store that stocked cheaper unbranded versions of the basic stuff, cornflakes, bread and the like.
“Mr. Johnson?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“I am detective Timothy Burns and this is detective Roberta Lopez. We’d like to ask you a few questions about Rebecca Chase. She was last seen with you on Thursday night leaving the King & Duke bar. The bartender gave us your address. Said you were a regular there and left with her. Can we come in and ask you a few questions?”
Timothy Burns was a tough and built middle-aged man with red hair and a faint Irish accent. Roberta, on the other hand, was a delicate looking woman with a petite frame but a very determined face. Her hair was tied back in a no nonsense style and she looked ready to engage in hand-to-hand combat at a moment’s notice.
“Sure, come on in. Did you say last seen? Is she, like, uh, go… missing?”
My mind began racing about Ragnar, until more characters were brought into the picture.


Ragnar Johnson – last person seen with Rebecca
Julia Fizpatrick (used to be James Fitzpatrick = founder of Atticus Biopharma – another research company seeking the cure for cancer
Nancy Mulligan – fellow researcher of Julia’s and a former flame of Julia’s when she was James. Nancy still has a thing for Julia/James
Gustev Henrikson – fellow researcher who worked with Rebecca’s and former boyfriend
Chrissy Cassidy – fellow researcher who worked with Rebecca
Iain Thorne – former fiance of Rebecca’s
Dr. Steven Gupta – researcher who Rebecca, Chrissy and Gustev worked for
Dr. Matheus Faust – founder of Faust Biopharma (named after his favorite book Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) – a major competitor of Atticus Biopharma

Nash does a great job of bringing out the personalities and thought processes if each character.
Nancy is still in love with James, now Julia and will do anything to for her. Gustev is a researcher just trying to make a name for himself by any means necessary. Chrissy just enjoys what she does and was very close to Rebecca and has become heart broken of her disappearance. Iain is a cocky bastard who has cheated on Rebecca numerous times. The two doctors are determined to find a cure for cancer and make a name for themselves. All these characters become suspects, either by the detectives or by the reader.


There were a few times I thought I had it figured out. But once I figured who did it, another twist arrived and changed my thought process. This was the great thing about this book; just when you think you have it figured out, you don’t. Just when you though all the characters have been introduced, Nash introduces more. Some are connected to Rebecca and some aren’t, but each makes you wonder if they are behind her disappearance.


Timothy Burns and Roberta Lopez – both hard hitting detectives who pull no punches and hold nothing back. With Burns’s in-your-face attitude and Lopez’s instincts you’d think they would have this case sewn up lickity-split. But just when they think they have found their perpetrator, they get thrown a curve ball and start chasing new leads.



I had a few issues with the book, but I had to remember I had an edition of the book which was not the final copy. Once I kept that in mind when reading, I was able to ignore the idiosyncrasies in the book. For instance, Ragnar has a stuttering problems when he’s nervous. Constantly displaying this every time he talked was unnecessary. Mentioning he has a stuttering problem while introducing the character and giving examples of that is fine in the beginning. However, reading it throughout the book drove me nuts. I asked Nash if he kept this in the final copy and he said no. He toned it down. Thank you Nicholas. Whew!


In the unpublished edition there was a lot of science talk in the book. I don’t care for science. I had the same issue while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot:

The book is about Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line, known as HeLa, that came from Lacks’s cervical cancer cells in 1951. The book is notable for its science writing and dealing with ethical issues of race and class in medical research. (Wikipedia)

Again, I had to remember this is an unpublished edition I’m reading and hopefully a lot of science has been removed from the final version.


I might be getting picky here, but there were times I didn’t know who was talking. Dialogues between people was not made clear as to who was saying what; and sometimes to whom. As mentioned, I might getting picky here. Also, the edition I have is not the final copy. I keep saying this because the copy someone might be reading may possibly not have all the idiosyncrasies I ran into. OR the person reading the book may not be as picky as I am when reading.


I loved the book! Nichalas Nash has a new fan and I am so looking forwarding to reading his next book.

I also have had the honor of forming a friendship with Nicholas via emails we exchange and via Facebook. Nicholas Nash has begun working on his next book in which he has two chapters written.

I highly recommend the book; you won’t be disappointed.

  • Print Length: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Fireflies Publishing, LLC
  • Publication Date: February 3, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a hard copy and ebook

M. William Phelps’s Obsessed [Book Review]

Originally posted 22 Feb 2017


As an avid reader of anything true crime related, I am also a avid viewer of true crime shows. If told right, the show can keep you guessing even if you know who did it.

I became, and still am, a fan of Ann Rule. This lady could write a true crime novel like nobody else. I also enjoyed ficitonal work of Patricia Cornwell (All That RemainsPostmortemBody of Evidence). Rule’s books included The Stranger Beside Me (the story of Ted Bundy), Green River Running Red (about the Green River Killer), Too Late To Say Goodbye (about Bart Corbin who killed both his wives), and my favorite Everything She Every Wanted (the story of Pat Allison).


I am a huge fan of the Investigation Discovery channel which is dedicated to nothing but true crimes. Some of the shows on this channel are; Web of Lies, Deadly Women, Deadly Sins, Fatal Vows, Evil Kin, Deadly Devotion, Fear Thy Neighbor and A Stranger In My Home to name a few of their original on-going programs. I’m partial to Deadly WomanDeadly Sins, and Evil Kin. They also have a slew of new shows such as Murder Calls, Murder Choose Me, Vanity Fair Confidential, Your Worst Nightmare and my absolutely favorite A Crime To Remember. I recommend doing research on these shows, download the ID GO app from iTunes of Google Play, and watch these shows as well as other shows they have.

It’s from a number of these shows that I learned of true crime writer M. William Phelps. I think the first time I saw was on an episode of Deadly Women. After seeing him on a few episodes I did research on some his books and looked up reviews, some of which weren’t that good, to see if his books would be of interest to me. Because of the bad reviews I read,  I decided not to give his books a chance. We are now a few years past and he’s on more Investigation Discovery shows, or ID for short, and I’m becoming more and more interested in reading his books, despite some of the bad reviews I read.


I began doing research on his books and ready synopsis to find out what grabs me as my first dive into he M. William Phelps arena of true crime novels and came across Obsessed and boy am I glad I ignored the 3.82 rating given to the book on Goodreads. I felt that if I based on what I was going to read of watch on other’s opinions, I wouldn’t be reading nor watching anything. Yes, I do take the bad reviews in account along with the good reviews and then form my own opinion after reading the book or watching the show.

I purchased the book on my Kindle and started reading straight away and became hooked immediately.
Synopsis of the book Obsessed: 

Sheila Davalloo was young, attractive, and successful. When she started a new job at a cutting-edge research lab in Stamford, Connecticut, she met the man of her dreams. Nelson Sessler had no idea how violently Sheila would react when he began seeing a co-worker, Anna Lisa Raymundo. Sheila eliminated her rival in a bloody knife attack–and then turned her rage on another victim she saw as an obstacle to her passions. M. Williams Phelps recounts the riveting story of a white-collar love triangle gone horribly wrong. . .and the terrifying infatuation that drove one woman to kill”(Source: Amazon)


As with Ann Rule, Phelps has a way of making you feel like you are there. You know who did it, or you think you do, but you wonder why they committed the crime. My thoughts on murderers is when did logic and self control leave their minds?

We all have made the remark of wanting to kill someone, but how many of us mean it. How many of us would be so obsessed over someone or something that it would cause us to think that taking a life is OK because, well in the end, we are going to get what we want, which is either that person we killed for or that thing we thought was worth killing for.

The book starts out with bang by explaining the scene in the victim’s apartment (Anna Lisa Raymundo).  The last thing I see or read will always creep into my dreams, I had to stop reading the book at night. I would only read the book during the day. But this stopped after a while, and reading at night no long was an issue. That didn’t last long. Once I got past the description of the bloody scene and started in on the story this became my go-to book before turning out the lights for the night.


Phelps gives enough description of the characters as he does with a place or a particular scene. Phelps also does a great job going from the present to the past back to present. He gets your attention and then keeps you wanting more.


Even though I had my strong suspicion on who killed Anna Lisa, there were times I wasn’t sure. Phelps kept you guessing while revealing who the killer is or giving strong indications of who it is. How could Paul fall for the lies on quite a few occasions, each one getting more and more outlandish. In one instance she told Paul he had take any thing that showed signs of a man being in the house to his hotel. While reading this I’m wondering why isn’t Paul questioning Sheila. Why is Paul allowing Shelia to dictate what he does without fighting back or at best question her? Side note, the brother Shelia was having over was really Nelson Sessler.

If it wasn’t for Shelia’s attempted murder on Paul, they would have never found out who killed Anna Lisa. But it took another 10 years for the trial to take place.

I highly recommend this book to any true crime reader. If you’re missing the days of Ann Rule, you now have M. William Phelps to lean on.

Title: Obsessed
Author: M. William Phelps
Published: 4 March 2014
Publisher: Pinnacle
Pages: 512
Available formats: Paperback, ebook, audible
Available sites: AmazonBarnes and NobeliBooks

Paula Hawkins Girl On The Train [Book Review]

Originally posted 16 July 2016


If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller with a twist, that’s also an easy read, then Paula Hawkins Girl on the Train  is the book for you. The last good mystery book or psychological thriller I’ve read that I absolutely enjoyed was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Another good one is The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler Olsen, which is part of a series of the Department Q series. Lost is the first in the series and I’m starting to digress like I normally do.

I believe I heard about Girl on the Train from Goodreads due to me seeking a good mystery book to read that was also an easy read, and this came highly recommended. The book was so intriguing and well written, that I was able to read it in three days, and I’m a slow reader as it is.

Written from the view point of three different women, Rachel, Anna and Megan, the books centers on the disappearance of a woman. 


The store begins with Rachel, who takes a commuter train each morning in which one of it’s stops lands her in front of house #23. House #23 belongs to Jess and Jason who have their morning tea on the terrace every morning. She witnesses this for a number of mornings until she see’s something that shatters her world. But that’s not the end of Rachel’s adventure…it’s just the beginning.
Rachel is a train wreck that has happened, is going to happen and does happen. I kept thinking, how in the world would they portray Rachel in a film (this is before I knew a film of the book were to take place) without making people, specifically me, uncomfortable. Rachel had me nervous throughout the book because of the idiotic things she does that gets her deeper into trouble with everyone around her. You find yourself wanting to help her and being frustrated with her at the same time. This is how deeply involved into Rachel the book gets you. You want to help her and yell at her at the same time.


This book does not hold back any punches, and that’s another thing I loved about it. It takes you on a rollercoaster ride with each character while engrossing you in a mystery that provides so many twist and turns, your head starts to spin. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, Hawkins throws another curve ball to which you have to stop for a second, shake your head, to make sure you read what you JUST read. After you have said, “Ohhhhh” with the excitement of the thought you should have known, here comes another curve ball.

I like books that keep you guessing, especially psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl did, and this book, Girl on the Train, along with The Keeper of Lost Causes, will keep you guessing until the end.
If you’re looking for an easy read, psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, Girl On the Train (Hawkins), Gone Girl (Flynn), and The Keeper of Lost Causes (Olsen) are the books for you.

Girl On A Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Release Date: 13 January 2015
Publisher: Riverheads Books
Pages: 326
Where to buyamazon.com or Barnes and Noble (hard-copy or e-book available from both sites) or iBooks
My Goodreads Profile
Trailer courtesy of KinoCheckInternational

Here is the line up for the cast for the movie version of Girl on a Train RELEASED DATE 7 OCTOBER 2016

Rachel – Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada, Charlie Wilson’s War)
Anna – Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Red Tent)
Megan – Haley Bennett (The Hole, The Equalizer)
Directed by Tate Taylor, directed The Help so I can see this movie being good already.
Written by: Paul Hawkins (novel) and adapted to screen play by Erin Cressida Wilson

Monday, November 6, 2017

Charlie Donlea’s The Girl Who Was Taken [Book Review]

“The country was transfixed, not by the girl who was gone, but by the one who made it home.” The Girl Who Was Taken



Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald (both seniors in high school) were kidnapped the same night but only Megan was able to escape her captor two weeks after. We meet up with Megan 14 months later as she has written a book about her ordeal and how she escaped. But we are left wondering what happened to Nicole and is there a connection between the two abductions.

Livia Cutty is Nicole's sister and a medical examiner. When she receives what seems to be a body of a possible suicide jumper to examine she learns more than she expected. Not only that, this body will lead Livia on the hunt to find her sister with the help of a Megan. Soon, both Livia and Megan will come face to face with the truth neither expected.



The book was written in a manner that it kept you engaged. No fancy words were used or ambiguity used to where you have to read the sentence or paragraph a few times to understand what's being said.

The characters were well written to where they didn't come over done or confusing. I've read books in which writers try to give birth to a character and over do it or give too much information about the character that could have been done within the story. Donlea does this perfectly with Nicole, Megan and Livia. Each chapter gives a bit more information about each character while continuing on with the story.



Donlea knows how to tell a story, that's for sure. He writes in a manner as if he's right there telling you the facts of the case. When it comes to crime suspense stories I like them to be smooth yet captivating and Donlea does that, with what seems as no effort. I've read books in which it seems the author was putting too much effort into their books that I grew tired of reading their work. A good example of this is Patricia Cornwell. I used to be fan of hers when I read her first three books, but after that, her books seemed forced and not genuine.



When Donlea would speak of the past the chapters were written in italics. I found this quite unnecessary for he's already told us at the start the chapter was going to be set one month before the abduction or two weeks before the abduction. I hope he leaves the italics out of his next book unless he's mentioning a title of something or a quote. As mentioned, this was a minor issue I had with the book. And this is mostly a personal preference. This will definitely not stop me from reading his other books and I hope he stays consistent throughout his career.



I absolutely loved this book. It had me on the edge of my seat from the first page until the very end. Some nights I couldn't put the book down but sleep won the battle many a nights. As I was reading I thought of Nicolas Nash's The Girl At The Bar for it kept you guessing. The only difference between Donlea's The Girl Who Was Taken and Nash's book is you had no ideas who was behind the abductions and the further you got into the book the harder the guesses became. With Nash's book, you had many suspects and the further into the book you got, more and more suspects appeared. In both the reveal had me in shock. Never saw either one coming.

Please get a copy of both books and enjoy the ride.

Summer Lake is the next Donlea book I will be reading in a few weeks. I have two to read and review ahead of Summit Lake.

The Girl Who Was Taken
Author: Charlie Donlea
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kensington (25 Spril 2017
Where to purchase: AmazonBarnes and NobleiBooks
Other books by DonleaSummit Lake 
Charlie is currently working on his next book. Once I get a copy of it I will definitely be doing a review of it and I'm so looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Chris Curtcher's Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories [Book Review]


Now that I'm older, I look back on school years gone by and growing up/coming of age. As with all adults, or most, we think "If only I knew then what I know now." As youngsters we worried about who liked us and who didn't like us. I'm not referring to the romantic like. The simplest things in life made us think it will either ruin us for life or make us heroes.


I wish I could redo a lot of things, one of them being school. Mostly high school. I wasn't a good student for I hated school. However, it was the best year of my life and the worst. Its funny to think that my only job back then was to go to school and yet I complained, as most kids do. My job today is going to work, paying bills, getting the car fixed, keeping the house up and on and on and on.


This is what draws me to young adult books, especially those by Judy Blume. It allows me to escape from the real world and relive those days of junior high and high school. This is also why I enjoyed reading Robert Cormier books. Of all the Judy Blume books my favorite is Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret (1970). I read the book around 2010 or 2011. Yes, I was well into my adult years by then. But it took me back to Margaret's school age years.

And this why I enjoyed Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher. High school is the them in these collective short stories and what we deemed important during that time. You don't have to be a jock to be able to relate to the stories or the people. You just have to have gone to high school.


Angus is the fat kid in school who has to unconventional families (for that time - 1984) and has been voted Home Coming King. He knows it was done as a joke, but soon the joke is on everyone else. However, the journey Angus and us take to get that point hits home.

Johnny has a father who is very controlling and extremely hard on Johnny. Johnny is waiting for the day he can seek revenge on his father and that day arrives, but will revenge be as sweet as he thinks?

Petey is either you or someone you knew in school. He wants to do what's right, but has a tug of war with himself on what that is. If he pleases this person, then this might happen. If he please someone else, then that might happen. Petey learns you can't please everyone and that's OK. He's willing to take one for the team...Team Petey.

Lionel lost his parents in a boating accident at age 14. He's been on his own since then as well. Lionel is struggling with the anger he's held inside for the one person who caused his parents death. Anger with a mixture of high school and the future ahead of you is bad cocktail. Or is it?

These are some of the stories in the book that will take you back to your younger days and school.

Before each story, Crutcher gives a background on where the stories came from which gives even more life to them.


I was going to complain about the use of the N word in the story titled Telephone Man but realized I would be a big hypocrite if I did so. Why? Well because I've written a historical fiction novel (still in the works ) about the concentration camps and my book is filled with degrading words the Nazis (and some Germans) would call Jews. Just be forewarned, the story is filled with the N word and not so nice things regarding Asians and anyone else Telephone Man has been taught to hate.


This is why I read YA books, to stay young, relive the old days and laugh at myself on how I thought things back then were so serious. Now-a-days, they are trivial. Hind sight is 20/20 but growing old gives you x-ray vision into the past.

Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories
Author: Chris Crutcher
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (1990); reprinted November 5, 2002
Pages: 208
Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women

courtesy of Amazon


I've been studying the Holocaust and learning about concentration camps for quiet a number of years. It started when the news showed ovens at a concentration camp. I believe it was Auschwitz, but I can't be sure. I also can't remember why the news was speaking of the ovens. It could have been an anniversary of the Holocaust. What I do remember is since seeing that I began to learn everything I could about, what I feel, is the most tragic thing to happen in history.


After reading so much about the Holocaust and realizing that those who lived through it are reaching the age in which death will soon be upon them, I decided to write a book on the subject. It is a historical fiction book and it's still in the works. I started it in 2003 or thereabouts and I'm still working on it. Not working on it continually. I've missed placed it a few times, life happened, miss placed it again when I did find it and life happened even more. I finally decided to put it in a safe place. Now I just need to head back to it and finish the editing.
For my book I had to read a lot of books on the Holocaust. I preferred those written by those who survived or told their story to another than those who did research and wrote their version of events. Of the 50 or so of books I've read, I had my three favorites and one film:

Because of Romek by David Faber
Five Chimmeys by Olga Lengyel
Night By Elie Wiesel

Auschwitz: Inside The Nazi State
There have been other movies which made an impact on me such as Schindler's List (1993) and Holocaust (1978) to name a few. I could make a grocery list of Holocaust movies I've seen, but want to focus this post on the book about Ravensbrück.


Of all the books I've read, this one has become my all time favorite. It not only gives the history of the camp as in whose idea it was (Heinrich Himmler's), how it was built (by men prisoner's from other camps) and it's intentions. It also gives the history of the war, to an extent. The book touched on the treaty Hitler signed with Stalin not to invade Russia and then invaded Russia. It spoke of the ties and promise Hitler made to Hungry not to invade it and do away with the Jews there and then, as with Stalin and Russia, went back on his promise.

The book spoke greatly about the rabbits in the camp. Rabbits were women selected for medical experiments. They had their legs cut open and shared glass inserted to see how long the leg and the prisoner would last. Gas gangrene was also injected for the same reason. Many became deformed or unable to walk after these experiments. They also became the first on the list to be killed once the news of Russians arriving became known because the rabbits knew too much. But a lot of rabbits survived the experiments and the camp and lived to tell their story in this book.

Dorthea Blin


The books talks about the evilness of Dorthea Binz, a supervisor at Ravensbrück who took pleasure in beating women to inches of their life or just plain killing them. She would kiss her married boyfriend in front of women who were being beaten by other guards. Her pleasure in life was seeing others suffer...physically.
Johanna Langefeld

Then there was Johanna Langefeld, the first head guard who also took pleasure in punishing women. However, later in the book it speaks of how she tried to help the women, especially the rabbits. She was very much against the medical experiments going on and the systematic killings. When she went against the orders of the camp Commandant she was quickly shipped off to another camp, never to hear from again.
I was on the fence about Langefeld as I was reading about her and still am. However, there's no denying Binz was just plain evil. The war only allowed her to act on her inner desires of inflicting physical pain on to others.


I knew the Russians were the first to liberate the camps, but I wasn't aware of what they had done themselves. I saw the Russians as heroes, along with the Americans and British until I learned how the Russians raped not only German women, but also raped quite a few of the prisoners they had liberated. They raped prisoners they found hiding in woods or fields as well.

The German women they raped were not prisoners but civilians of the state. The horror the Russian soldiers placed on the women was horrific, especially the prisoners. After all they had gone through, the beatings, tortures, experiments, being held in dark rooms that were cold and wet for weeks, even months without food or bedding, they had to endure the rapes by those they saw as saviors. No longer were the Russian soldiers the face of friendliness but of more acts of horror these women would go through. When they encountered Polish soldiers they too became questionable characters. However, they were nothing like a majority of the Russian soldiers. The Polish soldiers did what the Russians should have, and that's help the women by giving them food, clothing and ensuring them they are save.


I would have included the Swedish in the mix of those who helped rescue the prisoners, but reading how they wouldn't intervene when they knew what was going on in Ravensbrück makes me want to NOT give them any glory. And don't get me started on the Swedish Red Cross. Those in high power in the Swedish office were in bed with a lot of members of the high Nazi command. Enough said.


What these women went through and still survived the camps (I say camps to include all concentration camps) is amazing to me. I always said some had to survive to tell their story, otherwise, no one would believe it. Even with eye witness accounts there are those who do not believe the Holocaust happened. No one seems to doubt slavery happened or the Japanese were in internment camps, but many can't believe us human beings can be so vile and evil as the Nazis were. Perhaps, if those who deny the Holocaust accept it really happened will have to accept or acknowledge the possibility, they too, are capable of such atrocities.


It's hard to get those who survived to tell their story. There were those in the book who hadn't told their story in over 40 or 50 years because telling it will admit it really happened. Some believe not talking will make it go away. Not for them, but for the world. Some held on to momentoes of their stay at the camp that belonged to other prisoners that didn't survive.

I've met a camp survivor (Gloria Lyon in 2004) and had a nice afternoon speaking to her and her husband (also a camp survivor). She was in the process of writing her story so she wouldn't reveal a lot to me. But we spoke about the Holocaust as well as other things that wasn't Holocaust related.
I found this YouTube interview Gloria Lyon did in 1997 you all might want to see.


I highly recommend this book to the world, regardless if you are interested or not. Its a hard read for the information comes from those that were there not the author who did research and decided to write a book based on research. The author of Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women, Sarah Helm, also gave her thoughts on testimonies from other testimonies she received. Some contradicted each other, but most were in lined with one another. One thing they all had in common is the suffering they went through. Regardless of how they suffered, they suffered.
This book is also a one stop shop, in my opinion, on the history of the war, the treaties signed and broken and how much Himmler played a role in the extermination not only of the Jews, but of everyone Hitler and Himmler felt needed to go. There was no rhyme or reason to the Nazis logic, which is what I was hoping to find while reading. But the more I read the more the reason the Nazis thought they had, there weren't any. Sometimes you have to see things through enemy eyes to try to understand...NOT condone, just understand. And yes I know, trying understand what the Nazis did is beyond understanding but I was hoping to see something. Yet, how can you see something that isn't there and will never be there.


Hebrew word Zohar, means Remembrance

In honor of those that survived and those that didn't I got this tattoo. The writing is the Hebrew word Zohar which means Remembrance. I added a red tear drop for those that died in the camps.

Author: Sarah Helm
Released: 22 March 2016
Edition: Reprint
Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pages: 784
Where To Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Jillian Medoff's This Could Hurt

THE BEST OF EVERYTHING A few years back I watched a movie called The Best of Everything  starring Joan Crawford ,  Suzy Parker  and  H...