A, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, PICT Book Tours, Read in 2013, Review Book, U-V-W

2013.46 REVIEW – Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1 by Bill Walker & Brian Anthony

Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1

by Bill Walker & Brian Anthony

on Tour October 5 – November 5, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History
Published by: Lowtide Books
Publication Date: 10/5/13
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-9897457-0-3 (Hardcover), 978-0-9897457-1-0 (Paperback), 978-0-9897457-2-7 (ebook)
Purchase Links:
Book Website: www.lincolnpublicenemy.com


When John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln with a bullet cursed by the notorious Chicken Man, a local voodoo practitioner, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events extending far into the future. Instead of killing Lincoln, the bullet puts the president into a coma for sixty-eight years, his body remaining limber and ageless. When he awakens in 1933, Abe Lincoln is a man out of time, a revered icon…and a political pariah. FDR and J. Edgar Hoover not only do not want him around, they want him to retire. But their plan to be rid of him backfires and Lincoln is on the run, a fugitive from justice.

Determined to reach Chicago and retrieve the small fortune left in trust for him by his long-dead son, Lincoln discovers that Hoover has confiscated all his money, leaving him destitute. With Bureau of Investigation agent Melvin Purvis in hot pursuit, Lincoln finds his way to a hobo camp where he befriends a young runaway, who agrees to accompany the former president back to Washington. There Lincoln hopes that Hannah Wheelhouse, the Chicken Man’s granddaughter, can help him find the peace he longs for.

Then fate deals Lincoln another strange hand when he and the boy end up as hostages to infamous bank robber John Dillinger. Instead of leaving them by the side of the road after the robbery, Dillinger takes a liking to Lincoln and invites him to join the gang, promising him he’ll get all his money back.

Will Lincoln survive long enough to recapture his fortune and get away, or will he be hunted down in a manner unbefitting a martyred President?

In this inventive and entertaining novel, history gets a work-out, the action is flat-out, and almost everyone gets rubbed-out!

REVIEW: When I was originally pitched this book I was definitely intrigued. I have never read alternate history before and thought that this would be a fun step into a new-to-me genre. I’m not upset that I tried this book out, but I don’t think alternate history is a genre that’s a good fit for me.

Overall, it’s a fun and wild roller-coaster ride of a book. I can definitely see this on the big screen and think it would do great in Hollywood! But I really had an issue with the alternate history part of the book. This is just something personal that has nothing to do with the book itself at all. See, I was a history major in college. And the Abraham Lincoln assassination is something that I studied somewhat extensively. I just couldn’t get past the idea that Lincoln was in a coma for all those years because of a cursed bullet and then woke up in the 1930s. I just couldn’t do it.

That being said, the book itself was well-written and plotted. The pacing was fun and the plot was exciting. I just had a personal issue with the idea of alternate history.

But in general I would definitely recommend this book. It really is a fun read, just the history lover in me had an issue with alternate history.

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONEMarch 3, 1934
Lake County Jail
Crown Point, IndianaCounselor Louis Piquett felt a trickle of cold sweat roll down between his shoulder blades and silently cursed God, the courts, and the governor of the state of Indiana. He couldn’t afford to be nervous today, yet his head pounded and his stomach churned from the breakfast he’d eaten at a roadside diner on the way to the jail. He fought back a wave of nausea and cranked open the Ford’s passenger side window, letting the raw March air wash over his face. He closed his eyes and breathed it in.
“You okay, Louis?”
Piquett turned toward his law partner, Arthur O’Leary, and nodded. “Right as rain. Just wish you’d turn down the blasted heat.”
O’Leary’s lips curled in a lopsided grin, which gave his narrow hawk-like face an air of mirthful menace. “Sorry…you know I’m always cold.”
Piquett took off his fedora and wiped his forehead with a wrinkled linen handkerchief. “Yeah, I know. You should go see the doctor about it.”
O’Leary grinned, and Piquett gazed out across South Main Street at the late-Victorian pile that was the Lake County Jail and Courthouse, his eyes scanning the mounted machineguns and the dozens of National Guardsmen manning them behind a four-foot high wall of fifty-pound sandbags.
“You’d think they were expecting the Kaiser’s army,” O’Leary said, chuckling.
“They just don’t know what to make of our client, Arthur. Lord knows, I sometimes wonder about him myself.”
“He doesn’t belong here, that’s for sure,” O’Leary said, shaking his head.
“Unfortunately, his enemies think otherwise. You and I both know he didn’t kill that federal officer.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Piquett stared back at his partner, his dark eyes like flints. “I know what you meant.” The handkerchief came out again. “You take care of the guards, like I asked you?”
O’Leary nodded. “There won’t be a search.”
Piquett patted the left side of his suit jacket. “They find this on me and we’ve got a lot more trouble than we ever bargained for.”
O’Leary shot his partner a look of annoyance. “Nobody’s got a gun to your head, Louis.”
Despite the rumble in his guts, Piquett smiled. “That’s why I like you, Arthur. You always look at the bright side.” He glanced at his watch. “Time to go. Wish me luck.”
O’Leary nodded, and Piquett eased himself out of the Ford and closed the door. He hesitated a moment then leaned in through the open window. “If I’m not out in twenty minutes, you get on out of here. You remember where I put the emergency funds?
“I remember.”
“Good. Keep lookin’ at that bright side, Arthur.”
Piquett slapped the roof of the Ford and strode toward the jail. Passing through the narrow opening in the sandbags, he gave the soldiers a cordial nod, climbed the steps and disappeared into the building.
Following an official clearance, and after passing through a succession of remotely-controlled gates, he stood before the final door separating him from his client. The lone guard, seated at a scarred oak desk, motioned toward the open logbook lying in front of him. Piquett picked up a pen off the blotter and signed his name with a flourish.
“Morning, officer,” he said, handing back the pen.
The guard, a scrawny young man with greasy black hair and a dull look in his eyes, took back the pen with a smirk spreading across his face.
“Yeah, well, it ain’t so good for that client a yours, counselor.”
Piquett’s trial-winning smile widened. “Well, we’re all innocent in the eyes of the law, until proven guilty, officer. That’s the very foundation on which our great and glorious nation resides. Besides, you never know how a day’s going to end, until it’s over.”
The guard frowned, his puzzled expression making him look even less intelligent. “You mind standing back and raising your arms, counselor?” he said. “Gotta search ya.”
Piquett’s stomach rolled over, but he managed to keep the grin plastered to his face, even as he felt the sweat break out anew.
Just then an older guard stuck his head in the doorway.
“He’s clean, Jeff.”
The younger guard’s frown deepened. “But Sheriff Holley said we was to search every visitor ‘fore I pass ’em through this point.”
The older man leaned into the room, his face flushing. “And I’m tellin’ you he’s clean.”
Piquett watched the tense exchange between the two guards and said a silent prayer.
The younger guard appeared to think about this for a moment, the gears in his mind grinding slowly. Then he sighed and shook his head. “You say he’s clean, Irv, then fine, he’s clean.”
The older guard nodded, giving Piquett a knowing look the younger guard missed then left the room. The younger guard stood and threw the lever that operated the automatic doors. There was a loud “clunk,” followed by the whir of machinery. The door slid open and clanged to a stop.
Another guard appeared on the other side of the open doorway and motioned for Piquett to follow.
They passed through a corridor lined with empty holding cells. At the end of the hall Piquett spotted a wooden chair facing one of the cells. The guard motioned for him to sit. For a fleeting moment, Piquett toyed with the notion of turning around and leaving, going back to the car and driving away–maybe take that vacation he’d always promised himself. But then, whatever was left of his tattered code of ethics took over and he eased himself into the chair.
“Thank you, officer,” he said to the guard. “I’ll let you know when we’re done.
The guard nodded, retraced his steps down the corridor and disappeared around the corner. Piquett kept his eye on the corridor for another moment then turned toward the cell.
His client sat in a matching hardback chair dressed in a white shirt, charcoal-gray vest and matching pants. He was impossibly tall–even sitting down–and impossibly…there. The face he’d grown up admiring, the face that graced the penny and the five-dollar bill now sat watching him with a look of bemusement, gray eyes twinkling in the harsh glow of the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling.
“Good morning, counselor,” Lincoln said in his high, soft-spoken voice.
“Good morning, Mr. President.”
“Please, Mr. Piquett, I do not think it fitting to refer to me by that hallowed moniker, especially when viewed in the harsh light of my present circumstances.”
Piquett felt his face redden. “I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to forgive me. I much admired your administration, your achievements.”
Lincoln smiled revealing gaps between his teeth. “And while my achievements may make me immortal, I am an inconvenient reality whose presence is a reminder of things some would prefer to forget. As far as those demigods who now reside in Washington are concerned, I am a man out of time and out of step with the problems of the day.”
“I disagree, Mr. Lincoln.”
Lincoln slapped his knee and chuckled. “You know what’s truly ironic, counselor? The tenor of Washington has not changed all that much. I suspect the streets are cleaner and summers are more tolerable nowadays, but those puffed-up politicians have raised backstabbing to a high art. Practice makes perfect. Did you bring it, Mr. Piquett?”
The abrupt shift in the conversation flustered the lawyer for a moment. “Y-yes, sir.”
He reached into his jacket and pulled out a small package wrapped in butcher paper and tied with twine. He handed it through the bars and Lincoln took it with his large, calloused hand. The package disappeared into his pocket.
“Thank you, counselor, you’ve been most helpful. And I appreciate all that you’ve done. I was especially inspired by your performance in the courtroom during my arraignment last month.”
Piquett puffed with pride. “It was an honor, sir. I just wish I could’ve done more.”
Lincoln stood and thrust his hand through the bars. “You’ve done more than any man could ask. If I have need of you again, I will surely call on you.”
The lawyer grasped his client’s hand, feeling the strength in the older man’s grip.
“Where will you go?” Piquett asked.
Lincoln’s expression turned melancholy. “Back into the history books where I belong, counselor…if they’ll let me….”
Ten minutes later, as O’Leary guided the Ford through the crush of late morning traffic, Piquett thought about the small wrapped package he’d given Lincoln and wondered–in spite of his sordid lack of ethics–if he’d done the right thing, after all.
* * *
Jail Handyman Sam Cahoon went cold all over when he felt the barrel of a pistol jabbing into the small of his back. But it was that high voice in his ears that sent his heart racing.
“I’ve got to be going, Sam,” Lincoln said, “and I need your help. Please don’t make me use this. I know only too well what it can do.”
Lincoln guided him over to the locked steel door leading to the adjoining room and motioned for Sam to call out to the guards. A large black man rose from a nearby table where he’d been playing solitaire and joined them. When Sam continued to hesitate, Lincoln kicked the door with his foot, sending a booming sound reverberating around the Day Room, which now fell silent.
“That you, Sam?” came the voice from the other side of the door.
Sam looked to Lincoln, his eyes wide with fright. Lincoln pressed the barrel harder into the handyman’s back and nodded.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Sam said. “I’m done in here.”
“All right,” the voice replied.
A moment later came the rattle of keys and the door swung inward. Lincoln kicked the door hard, sending the startled guard behind it sprawling, then he shoved Sam Cahoon aside and grabbed the guard, who was scrambling to his feet.
“Y-you out of your mind?” the guard sputtered.
“So they tell me, son. Now you go on and get us into the guardroom, and no tricks.”
The guard’s hands trembled, causing him to fumble with the keys. Lincoln jabbed the barrel harder into the guard’s back, eliciting a moan of fear from the man.
“Hurry, now.”
“I g-got it,” the guard said, slapping the key into the lock and twisting it. They burst into the guardroom, where a civilian fingerprint technician and one other guard sat drinking coffee and chewing on jelly donuts, their eyes as round as saucers. Lincoln spotted two Thompsons with fully loaded drum magazines sitting on the windowsill and nodded to the black man.
“Mr. Youngblood, we shall require those fine instruments of destruction.”
The black man chuckled and grabbed them, handing one to Lincoln, who then held up the pistol he’d used for all to see. A sly grin spread across his face. It was a crudely carved wooden gun blackened with shoe polish, the words “Colt .38” etched into its side.
Both the guard and the fingerprint technician shook their heads in disgust.
Lincoln’s grin widened. “Well, now, it does seem one can fool some of the people all of the time.” He put the wooden gun back into his pocket and waved the barrel of the submachine gun towards the exit door.
“Mr. Youngblood, take this officer to one of the cells.”
“Yes, sir.”
Youngblood manhandled the guard out of the room and returned moments later.
Lincoln looked at the fingerprint technician, who sat frozen, the jelly donut still hanging from his mouth.
“What’s your name, son?” Lincoln asked.
The young technician yanked the donut from his mouth.
“Uh, Ernest Blunk, sir. You gonna shoot me?”
“I have no desire to kill anyone, Mr. Blunk, but I am getting out of here. It’s your choice.” Lincoln’s gaze was implacable and Blunk nodded soberly and stood up.
“All right, gentlemen,” Lincoln said, “shall we take our leave?”
After a short trip down two corridors and one flight of stairs, they emerged into the alley. Lincoln eyed the narrow passageway in both directions, noting the way was clear. He smiled and turned to Blunk, who stood with his arms wrapped around himself, shivering in the cold.
“Where’s the garage, son? The one with the private cars.”
“Down the alley, around the c-corner, behind the courts.”
“Let’s go.”
The garage was in a shed-like building with a sliding wooden door that reminded Lincoln of an old barn. The door shrieked on its rusty rails as Youngblood slid it open. Inside it was toasty warm and reeked of gasoline and spilled oil. A lone mechanic lay under a late-model Chevy, banging away at a water pump and cursing under his breath. Another man sat behind a desk in the small glassed-in office. Just then a woman walked into the garage.
“Mr. Saager, is my car–” She stopped in mid-sentence when she spotted Lincoln and Youngblood wielding the two Thompsons and fainted dead away, her limp body slapping against the grimy concrete.
Youngblood handed his Thompson to Lincoln, picked up the woman and deposited her inside the office on a battered sofa. The black man motioned for the man at the desk to move and the man scrambled out the door with his hands in the air.
“What’s the fastest car in here?” Lincoln asked, handing Youngblood back his Thompson.
The man from the office looked around and nodded toward the mechanic under the Chevy.
“Hudak’d know best.”
“Ask him to join us.”
The man eased over to the Chevy and gave the mechanic’s leg a nudge with his foot.
“What you want, Saager?”
“We got a man here asking about fast cars.”
“What do I look like, a salesman? I’m up to my butt in work here, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I got to get this damn Chevy out of here by two.”
Saager looked to Lincoln and shrugged. Youngblood raised the barrel of his Thompson and Saager paled a few shades whiter. He kicked the mechanic harder and said. “You get on out here, Hudak, if you know what’s good for you.”
The mechanic slid out from under the car, the curses on his lips dying away when he spotted the two men and their machineguns.
“What’s the fastest car in here?” Lincoln asked.
Hudak jabbed his finger toward a sleek brand-new car parked in a corner, its jet-black paint gleaming under the hooded lights. “That there Ford. Got a real honey of a V-8.”
“That’ll be fine, Mr. Hudak.”
“But that’s Sheriff Holley’s new car.”
Lincoln laughed. “Even better. Mr. Blunk, you will drive. Mr. Hudak, you and your partner will disable all the other vehicles in the garage.”
Hudak looked incredulous.
“Now, Mr. Hudak.”
The mechanic walked toward the Chevy, shaking his head. When he reached the car, he opened the hood and started gingerly pulling wires.
Youngblood rolled his eyes, grabbed a hammer and pushed the mechanic aside. “Not like that–like this.” He swung the hammer down onto the spark plugs one by one, shattering them then pounded holes in the carburetor. He handed the hammer to Hudak. “Now, go to it, my man. Just like the boss says.”
In moments every other car was disabled and Blunk pulled the Sheriff’s car up to the door, the engine revving with a throaty roar. Lincoln and Youngblood climbed in and Lincoln hung his Thompson out the window at Saager and Hudak. Neither man moved.
“All right, Mr. Blunk. Let us proceed.”
The car pulled into the alley and then out onto East Street. Lincoln swiveled his head back and forth, looking to see if anyone followed. “Nice and slow,” he said. “It wouldn’t do to draw attention to ourselves.”
They passed the courthouse and Lincoln smiled when he spotted all the soldiers. They swung around a parked bus and pulled up to a stoplight. A bank sat on one of the corners and Lincoln stared at it. “Mighty tempting to procure us some traveling money, but I think we’ve worn out our welcome here, Mr. Youngblood.”
Yes, sir, Mr. Lincoln,” the black man said, grinning from ear to ear. The light turned green and the car sped out of town. When they reached State Road 8, Lincoln relaxed and began singing an old hymn. His singing voice was surprisingly tuneful and brought a smile even to Blunk’s dour face.
“Where we going, anyway?” Blunk asked when Lincoln had finished singing.
“Wherever the winds of fate shall take us.”
Youngblood laughed as the car sped off down the road.
The Great Emancipator was free.


Bill Walker

BILL WALKER is an award-winning writer whose works include novels, short stories and screenplays. His first novel, Titanic 2012, was enthusiastically received by readers, and Bill’s two short story collections, Five Minute Frights and Five Minute Chillers, are perennial Halloween favorites. A highly-respected graphic designer, Walker has worked on books by such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. His most recent novel, A Note from an Old Acquaintance, was published in 2009.

Catch Up With Bill Walker:

Brian Anthony

BRIAN ANTHONY is a writer and award-winning filmmaker. His first feature film, Victor’s Big Score, was praised by Variety as “A tremendous calling card for writer-producer-director Brian Anthony.” As a writer-producer Anthony has contributed to shows for American Movie Classics, Arts and Entertainment, and Fox Syndication, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Lost in Space Forever. A veteran film historian, Anthony has been interviewed on network television regarding film history, and co-authored the acclaimed biography of the film comedian Charley Chase, Smile While the Raindrops Fall, in 1998. Brian is an expert art and book restorationist, and you can see his work at Anthony Restorations.

Catch Up With Brian Anthony:

I hope you will check out the other stops on the tour:

10/05 ~ Showcase, Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
10/06 ~ Review & Giveaway @ rantin ravin and reading
10/11 ~ Showcase @ CMash Reads
10/16 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
10/17 ~ Review @ Community Bookstop
10/18 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Gabina49s Blog
10/25 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Stuff of Success
10/28 ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
10/29 ~ Guest Post, Review & Giveaway @ The book Faery reviews
10/30 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Tales of a Book Addict
11/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Cozie Corner
11/05 ~ Showcase @ Thoughts In Progress
11/06 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Popcorn Reads
11/07 ~ Review @ My Devotional Thoughts
11/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Now is Gone
11/11 ~ Review & Giveaway @ WTF Are You Reading?
4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, P, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, SERIES, Women's Murder Club

2013.45 REVIEW – 11th Hour by James Patterson

11th Hour
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 387
Rating: 34/5
Read: Oct. 23 – Oct. 27, 2013
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge; RIP VIII; 2013 Sequel Challenge
Yearly count: 45
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy

11th HourBlurb:  Boxer is pregnant at last! But her work doesn’t slow for a second. When a millionaire is mercilessly gunned down, Lindsay discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco’s most untouchable criminals. And it was taken from her own department’s evidence locker. Anyone could be the killer – even one of her closest friends. Lindsay is next called to the most bizarre crime scene she’s ever seen: two bodiless heads displayed in the garden of a world-famous actor. After another head is unearthed, Lindsay realizes that the ground could hide hundreds of victims. Then a reporter launches a series of vicious articles about the cases, and Lindsay’s personal life is laid bare. But this time she has no one to turn to – especially not Joe.

Review: James Patterson is my go-to author when it comes to trying to break out of a slump. I had picked up and put back down about 4 books prior to picking up this one. So it was a no-brainer for me to choose a Patterson book, I just had to decide which one (I have two other books of his). This one has been on my shelf for a while, so I chose it just because it was the Patterson book I have had the longest.

Overall, this is another good installment in the Women’s Murder Club series. I really enjoyed the dual story lines. They were both interesting cases which needed Lindsay’s undivided attention…. but she took on both cases at the same time. I did have a little issue with this in a way. As someone who has been through an easy pregnancy, I couldn’t help but shake my head at how Lindsay’s pregnancy is being portrayed. I was absolutely worn out, and there would have been no way I could have ever gone all day without eating … working 10-12 hours wasn’t going to happen either. So I was a little irritated as to how this was shown to the readers, it just wasn’t realistic at all and it irritated me at times.

However, I did like that the “Club” was back in action in this book. It was fun to see Claire, Lindsay, Cindy and Yuki trying to solve the case together again! It seems like this has been a missing piece in the last few installments of this series. And that really is a shame, because that’s what this series is all about! We as readers need those four characters working together to solve the case, it’s a great dynamic when they’re together!

I will say that while the killer really wasn’t a huge shocker, it was a little bit of a surprise to me. I had it narrowed down to three people and the actual killer was in that pool of three, but I hadn’t figured it out completely. That always makes for a fun read in my opinion.

Having looked back over my review of the previous book in this series, I had complained about the lack of editing for that book. I can say that this book did not have those issues, so I was glad to see that whatever the problem was regarding that was resolved for this book.

Overall, another good read. Mr. Patterson might not be the best author out there (he’s just prolific), but it’s always a fun and quick read that I enjoy. Even though this is the 11th book in the series, I wouldn’t say you would be missing anything terribly important if you picked this one up first.


Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, Oct. 28, 2013

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair this month.

It’s been a while since I last had a Mailbox Monday post (since August, actually). And I’ve gotten a lot of new books in the house lately. So I’m just going to do a quick recap of what I’ve gotten in the last couple months.

Purchased New:

Elizabeth the Queen Frame 232 Guilt by Association I, Michael Bennett JFK Has Been Shot Kill You Twice Mrs. Kennedy Relic The Bone Bed The Empty Glass The Fifth Assassin The Good Sister The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe The Third Bullet These Few Precious days


Can you see the JFK obsession? Ha!


Received from a friend:

Dead in the Water Deeper than the Dead Invasion of Privacy The Dead Place The First Patient

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.44 REVIEW – True Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro

True Hollywood Noir: Filmland Mysteries and Murders
by Dina Di Mambro

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 229
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Oct. 16 – Oct. 22, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 44
Format: Print
Source: The Cadence Group

Blurb:  In a tantalizing, suspenseful, and entertaining mixture of classic Hollywood nostalgia and true crime, explore some of the most fascinating scandals, mysteries and murders in Filmland history – true Hollywood noir lived by the players behind the scenes. Viewers were captivated by the drama of the black and white masterpieces of the silver screen … the noir films with swirling cigarette smoke; high balls on ice; murky, rain-soaked nights; and ill-fated plots between gangsters and grifters, hard-boiled detectives, and duplicitous gorgeous women – which paled in comparison to what was going on behind the scenes.

Uncover the true stories in a dozen different chapters featuring William Desmond Taylor, Thomas Ince, Jean Harlow, Thelma Todd, Joan Bennett, Lana Turner, George Reeves, Gig Young, Bob Crane, Natalie Wood, Robert Blake, and Mickey Cohen. Included in the cast of characters of this book are Johnny Stompanato, William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, and Charlie Chaplin. And find never before told mob stories about Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, and Virginia Hill. Get the theories behind each case in this page-turner – then draw your own conclusions as to the truth behind some of the most prominent Hollywood mysteries.

Review: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Rebecca at The Cadence Group.

I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of this book. I used to be a huge true crime junkie. Over the years I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading true crime (but I still have a stack of those books on my shelves!). So I really jumped at the opportunity to read this book.

When I first got this one in the mail, I flipped through it. I realized that I could easily jump around with the chapters. And that’s exactly what I did. I started out with the chapters on the people who I was not familiar with and moved on to the ones that I was more familiar with. I felt like this was a really good way for me to enjoy this book.

I remember very well watching the Robert Blake trial on CourtTV, so I was really interested in seeing what the author had to say in that chapter. I also highly enjoyed the Natalie Woods chapter because it’s a case that I knew the bare bones about, but it really sparked my interest when it was back in the news more recently.

But the one chapter that I felt was a little off from the others was the Mickey Cohen one. I finally got to watch the movie Gangster Squad earlier this year, so I only really had that to go on in reference to what I knew of Cohen. But I was a little surprised as to how this particular chapter was approached. It was almost two times as longer as any other chapter in the entire book, and it was almost glowing … definitely not something that I expected in regards to Cohen. But then the author ends with something that really made me wonder if it wasn’t glaringly obvious as to who the young girl she references was….

Overall I am very glad that I was given the opportunity to read this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in true crime or short biographies.


My Life According to Books 2013

This meme originates with Pop Culture Nerd.

Last year I remember seeing this around the blog-o-sphere and wanted so badly to participate. But since I had Garrett in May last year I had barely read anything and couldn’t fill it out completely and decided to try to watch out for it this year. So I was super excited to see it start to make the rounds again this year! Here goes:

My to-do list looks like: The Never List (Koethi Zan)

If a peeping Tom peeked into my bedroom, he’d: [see] Evidence of Life (Barbara Taylor Sissel)

If martians meed me, they’d thinkThe One I’d Left Behind (Jennifer McMahon)

My doctor is always telling me: [I’m on] The Edge of Normal (Carla Norton)

The weirdest thing that happened this past week: If You Were Here [you’d know] (Alafair Burke)

I often daydream about: The Trajectory of Dreams (Nicole Wolverton)

The government shutdown makes me: [want a] Transfer of Power (Vince Flynn)

If I win the lottery, I’d: [do] Untold Damage (Robert K. Lewis)

My superpower is: Arctic Fire (Paul Byers)

I knew I was a book lover when: [I was] Blindsighted [by Stephen King in high school] (Karin Slaughter)

My blogging experience has been: [a tale of] Resurrect [time after time] (David E. Stevens)


What fun! Hope you join in as well 🙂

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Lucas Davenport, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, S, SERIES

2013.43 REVIEW – Shadow Prey by John Sandford

Shadow Prey
by John Sandford

Copyright: 1990
Pages: 342
Rating: 3/5
Read: Oct. 8 – Oct. 16, 2013
Challenge: Off the Shelf Challenge; RIP VIII; 2013 Sequel Challenge
Yearly count: 43
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb:  A slumlord and a welfare supervisor butchered in Minneapolis . . . a rising political star executed in Manhattan . . . an influential judge taken in Oklahoma City . . . All the homicides have the same grisly method — the victim’s throat is slashed with an Indian ceremonial knife – and in every case the twisted trail leads back through the Minnesota Native American community to an embodiment of primal evil known as Shadow Love. Once unleashed, Shadow Love’s need to kill cannot be checked, even by those who think they control him. Soon he will be stalking Lucas Davenport — and the woman he loves…

Never get involved with a cop: Lieutenant Lucas Davenport has been warning women for years, but now he finds himself on dangerous ground with a policewoman named Lily Rothenburg, on assignment from New York to help investigate the murders. Both have previous commitments, but neither can stop, and as their affair grows more intense, so too does the mayhem surrounding them, until the combined passion and violence threaten to spin out of control and engulf them both. Together, Lucas and Lily must stalk the drugged-out, desperate world of the city’s meanest streets to flush out Shadow Love — not knowing they are now the objects of his deadliest desires….

Review: This is the second book in the Lucas Davenport series.

Last year I read and reviewed the first book, Rules of Prey. I gushed and gushed about how wonderful that book was. For whatever reason, I never picked this one up (and it’s been sitting on my shelves for a long time).

Unfortunately … this one wasn’t as great as the first book. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was terrible, but it definitely wasn’t wonderful. I had a really hard time getting into the actual storyline. And that really made it difficult to push through. But I never thought about abandoning it, I was going to finish it (even if it did take me forever…). I also had a problem with Lucas’ womanizing in this installment. I knew that Lucas was a womanizer after reading the first book, but it was really bad this time around. I suppose it’s because he has a new baby girl, Sarah, with Jennifer and he had supposedly offered marriage numerous times to her (she keeps denying him), and yet he hops into bed almost immediately with his partner from New York. And he pretty much tells Lily and Jennifer that he just can’t help it. I don’t know, it bothered me. It just didn’t ring true to me.

Overall, I’m not going to be giving up on this series just yet. Mr. Sandford’s writing is really good. I think I just really had a problem with the storyline in this one. It just didn’t work for me.

Not a bad book, but not one I would highly recommend.


RECIPE: Shrimp Fajitas

Shrimp Fajitas

  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) fat-free sour cream
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 8 flour tortillas (6 inches), warmed
  • 1/2 cup salsa




  1. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with 2 tablespoons cilantro, 1 tablespoon oil and spices; let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix sour cream and remaining cilantro.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers; cook and stir until crisp-tender. Remove from pan.
  3. In same pan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Return onion mixture to pan; heat through. Serve with tortillas, salsa and sour cream mixture.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home

Shrimp Fajitas

Personal Review: I love just about anything Mexican. Fajitas are one of my absolute favorites, though. I’m always on the look-out for new recipes and this one caught my eye in my Sept/Oct 2013 issue of Taste of Home. I tore it out and decided that I would make it this week.

I tell you what really caught my eye with this recipe … the cilantro. Hubby is a huge fan of cilantro (me, not so much, but I don’t hate it). So I knew for sure that he would like this recipe.

I was right. It’s a quick and easy meal to get prepped and cooked. It’s a good taste too. It’s supposed to be a little bit healthier for you. You might notice in my picture there’s no sour cream … that’s because I do not like sour cream all that much and left it off of my serving (I used a bit of salsa instead). But hubby used the sour cream and thought that the cilantro added to it really added a good taste.

Definitely a recipe that will go in my keeper binder!

I served it with a big plate of cheesy nachos (totally ruining any chance of being healthy!) and chips and salsa.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, N, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Review Book

2013.42 REVIEW – The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

The Edge of Normal
by Carla Norton

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 316
Rating: 4/5
Read: Sept. 30 – Oct. 7, 2013
Challenge: RIP VIII
Yearly count: 42
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley

The Edge of NormalBlurb: In many ways, Reeve LeClaire looks like a typical twenty-two year old girl. She’s finally landed her own apartment, she waitresses to pay the bills, and she wishes she wasn’t so nervous around new people. She thinks of herself as agile, not skittish. As serious, not grim. But Reeve is anything but normal.

Ten years ago, she was kidnapped and held captive. After a lucky escape, she’s spent the last six years trying to rebuild her life, a recovery thanks in large part to her indispensable therapist Dr. Ezra Lerner. But when he asks her to help another girl rescued from a similar situation, Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there, watching every move.

Review: This is another great book that grabbed me from the first page and spit me back out at the end.

But I just want to stop feeling like I have this ugly part of myself that no one can possibly understand. I want to have a normal life and be a normal adult. (p. 26)

From the very beginning you know exactly what has happened to Reeve. When she was 12 years old she was kidnapped. She suffered a lot of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during the four years that she was being held by the psychopath who took her. And all she wants is to be normal. She can’t be faulted for wanting that more than anything. So she’s been seeing her therapist, Dr. Lerner. The reader can tell in the first few pages that Reeve is an intelligent woman who appears to have bounced back rather well from her past. Sure she’s got some issues still, but nothing that I would consider out of the ordinary considering what she went through. But you really don’t see who Reeve is until she is asked by Tilly’s family to come and meet with them. It is here that we are really introduced to an extremely strong woman. Stronger than she gives herself credit for.

This is really quite the suspenseful book. You know from the beginning that there is more to the story than the police officials are aware of. That made it even more interesting for me as far as all the questions being answered. It’s really interesting to see Reeve really put herself out there and investigate for herself. She makes a promise that she does not under any circumstances want to have to break, so she must do things her own way. I felt like that really made the storyline interesting … it was just one more insight into Reeve’s character as a whole.

I have to admit that there were more than a few times that I was a little suspicious of some of the main male characters. My suspicions were completely off the mark, but I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like had the author taken things a different route. Maybe I just wanted to make a mountain out of a molehill 🙂 There are some open-ended possibilities for Ms. Norton to bring Reeve back in another book. I like that there is an opening for that. It would be definitely interesting to see if Reeve goes back to school as Dr. Lerner has suggested to her.

Overall, I felt like this was a great book. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I don’t think that the author went into too much detail that it felt overly gratuitous in any way. I’m definitely looking forward to Ms. Norton’s future in fiction writing!

Highly recommended.


RECIPE: Easy Mexican Calzones

Easy Mexican Calzones

  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts, room temperature
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Garnish: salsa, shredded lettuce, sour cream, sliced green onion


  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Brown beef and drain. Add the chiles, water and seasoning mix; mix well.
  3. Place unwrapped pie crusts on cutting board; unfold. Cut each crust in half, making 4 half circles. Place 1/2 cup beef filling on half of each half circle. Place 1/4 cup cheese on top of each. Dampen edge of crust with water. Fold sides over filling; crimp edges with a fork. Place on an un-greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Garnish as desired.

Recipe Source: LuvRRecipes Yahoo group

Mexican Calzones

Personal Review: I copied this recipe down from a Yahoo recipe group I belong to and thought it sounded really good. And easy. Easy is always a good thing in my house 🙂

If any of you follow Trish on Twitter, you might have seen her tweet a link this morning to a “nailed it” cooking post. It was really funny, and I have to tell you that the pretty picture you see above is not how the very first calzone I sealed up looked like. It was definitely a “nailed it” moment that I really wish I would have taken a picture of. I was ashamed of how it looked and I shouldn’t have been. By the way, I should tell you guys that we ate 3 of the 4 calzones that we made … want to guess which one didn’t get consumed? Ha! The “nailed it” one 🙂 Moving on…

Overall this is a really simple recipe. I cooked it for 18 minutes waiting for it to turn golden brown. It never turned that color and I think I might have overcooked it just a smidge while waiting for that to happen. So I definitely recommend watching that if you try this recipe. Also, I highly recommend using a good salsa for a garnish. (I can be a salsa snob.) I smeared salsa all over my calzone (after the picture was taken of course) and it was so yummy. Hubby smeared salsa and dolloped sour cream on his.

I served it with tortilla chips and salsa and mexican rice. Definitely an easy weeknight meal that I highly recommend and will be adding to my keeper recipe binder!


4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Edelweiss, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2013, READING CHALLENGES 2013, Review Book, SERIES

2013.41 REVIEW – Darkness First by James Hayman

Darkness First
by James Hayman

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 346
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Sept. 27 – 30, 2013
Challenge: RIP VIII
Yearly count: 41
Format: E-Book
Source: Publicist/Edelweiss

Darkness FirstBlurb: In the dark shadows of a summer evening a young woman is brutally slain by a remorseless killer’s razor sharp blade. Learning that her closest childhood friend was nearly killed in the same incident, Portland Detective Maggie Savage rushes to the scene to join the State Police investigation. Maggie soon discovers the killer’s name is Conor Riordan.  There’s only one problem.  Conor Riordan doesn’t exist.

The only person who can provide a clue as to who Riordan really is, is the victim’s eleven-year-old sister, Tabitha. And now Tabitha has turned up missing.  Soon Maggie and her longtime partner, Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, find themselves in a desperate race against time to find the missing child before she becomes a vicious killer’s next victim.

Taut, twisting, and starring two unforgettable heroes, DARKNESS FIRST is a gruesome thriller about a small town rocked by a savage crime.

Review: I was made aware of this book through Danielle Bartlett, publicity director for HarperCollins. They are starting a new digital imprint: Witness. This is just one of ten books starting the line, which will focus on digital first suspense and thriller books.

Having had to put aside two books this month already for not catching my attention, I was really feeling the start of a slump coming on. All I can say is, thank goodness for this book!

I was enthralled with it from the first page. It’s a really good book. I must warn you, this is apparently the third in the McCabe and Savage series. However, it’s the first book that features Savage as the protagonist. I had no idea it was part of a series; it wasn’t until after I finished it and was looking online for information to write up this review that I discovered it. So obviously, it reads quite well as a standalone.

The pacing in this book was very well done in my opinion. It moved rather quickly, I was pushing the button on my Nook as fast as it would allow me to! The writing is exceptional and the characters very well-developed. Overall, definitely an author I will keep an eye out for in the future. I’m very interested in not only reading the back story of McCabe and Savage from the previous two books, but also finding out what happens in the future with Emily and Tabitha, McCabe and Savage, Harlan and their father. Overall, a great cast of characters I’m looking forward to meeting again.

The only reason I can’t bring myself to rate this book a 5/5 is that I had the bad guy pegged within the first 100 pages. While not necessarily a buzz kill for the book itself, it was a little disappointing to not have the big reveal at the end be a jaw-dropper.

Overall definitely a book that I would highly recommend and I am definitely looking forward to some of the other books Witness will be releasing in the coming weeks!

About the author: James Hayman spent more than twenty years as a senior creative director at one of New York’s largest advertising agencies. He and his wife now live in Portland, Maine.  He is the author of the acclaimed thrillers The Cutting and The Chill of Night, both international bestsellers.

Click here to go to Witness’ homepage.