Tag Archives: books

True Crime: Michigan: The State’s Most Notorious Criminal Cases – Book Review

Published Date: June 7, 2011

Publishing Co.: Stackpole Books

Pages: 136

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The perfect coffee table/bathroom book for any Michigander home.

This easy-to-read true crime novel highlights some of Michigan’s most notorious crimes. From our polygamist king, a couple of serial killers, the original gangsters of Detroit (ones even Al Capone wouldn’t mess with) to the wild west of the Upper Peninsula, if there is one thing Michigan isn’t, it’s boring.

Despite living my entire life in the Great Lakes state, there were plenty of stories about cases I had no idea about in general or I just didn’t realized they had happened here. For example; the largest school massacre in US history happened in Bath, Michigan in 1927 and the culprit was raised in the town I currently call home. (Not exactly something they put on the welcome billboard and I’m sure the historical society likes to keep in the dark.)

Do you have to be from Michigan to enjoy this? Of course not, however, I do think it adds a personal connection to the stories if you are.

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Reading Stats for the Year Thus Far…

Does that title look familiar?? Well it should since I 100% stole this idea from Ignited Moth. I told her I didn’t think I had the patience to do a post like this but where there is a will, there is a way to cheat the game. Print screen for the win!

June officially marks this as half way through the year and I’m just shy of meeting my yearly reading goal. I have got to say, not having the pressure to complete an enormous reading goal at the end of the year has been great. I feel like I’m enjoying reading much more again. Plus, it’s left me with more time to get out and try new things/hobbies.

I know you’re probably having to squint at this but I didn’t want to take 10 million screenshots.

Ahaha! If you look closely at my tabs, you can see my search for how to find my print screens. I’ve never tried since getting Windows 10.

Anywho, onto the subcategories she listed!

My favorite books I’ve read so far this year goes as follows:

Favorite (Fiction) novel so far: Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell.

5 out of 5 stars on this one. It’s my favorite epic fantasy of the year so far as well. It’s much like the 3 Musketeers but with fantasy and plot twists thrown in liberally.

Favorite (Nonfiction) novel so far: The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown.

This was such a thoroughly researched novel on the Donner Party. It really took you back in time and showed you how life was in the frontier days. Peppered with scientific facts about what the body goes through when you’re starving and freezing to death.

Favorite graphic novel so far: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol 1. by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Honestly, this one kind of just wins by default as it’s the only graphic novel I’ve read so far this year. Does not make it any less fun of a read though if you like dark, spooky things.

Books that were re-read: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I was SO nervous to read this. I’ve never re-read it since I was a kid and I was really afraid that it wouldn’t hold up. But, it totally does! I was still too intimidated to write a review for it though. :3

Book suggestions from blogging buddies:

Recommended to me by The Shameful Narcissist. It was one of those ‘meh’ books for me, but I can see how people would really enjoy this post apocalyptic novel and if you’re interested in it at all, give it a try!

Suggestions from Ignited Moth:

I’ve called her it a million times now, she’s my Comic Book Fairy. ❤ She’s also always full of random non-fiction novels to recommend as well. I know there’s a novel about plagues on my TBR list thanks to her. 😛

Well that’s my 2019 reading so far! How is everyone else’s year going?

The Brotherhood of the Wheel (#1) – Book Review

Published Date: May 1, 2016

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 384

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

She looked over the menu at her daughter. “How about this Ed Gein Bar-B-Que? That sounds good!”

“That name’s familiar,” Paul said. “I think he was a governor or something.”

A diner called Zodiac Lodge with entrees named after serial killers, may be a business venture that R.S. Belcher should look into. There are larger take-aways from this book but this may, perhaps, be my favorite.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Belcher is the master of genre mash-ups. The Brotherhood of the Wheel comes off as a mix of horror, grimdark and urban fantasy. It’s a blend that worked together and in my humble opinion, an ample dosing of horror that should throw him the leagues of King and Koontz.

The United States transportation systems are the perfect hunting ground for all manners of killers. They provide access to victims, hiding places to commit their crimes and dumping grounds galore. Both evil humans and paranormal predators stalk these interstate super highways, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

Where there are horrors, there must also be heroes who lead the fight against evil. That is the purpose of the Brotherhood, a secret organization tasked with protecting the innocent. They are police, taxi drivers, truckers, bikers, etc. They come together from all walks of life to take down serial killers, rapists, and human traffickers.

Something ancient and hungry is working it’s way free into the world, turning children into mindless monsters and using human sacrifices to increase it’s power. It hides away in a hidden town, not on any map. The residents there are captive, they cannot leave to find help and the monster’s minions lurk about, prepared to make their lives a living hell for trying.

A renegade cop, biker, trucker, and a book worm are the only ones on this thing’s tail after looking into multiple missing teenager cases and it may just save all of humanity if they can take him down.

Top 5 Weird Westerns

Ever since I was little, I’ve enjoyed westerns. A large part of that is probably because I adore horses and the other part was watching movies with adults that liked westerns. I’ve seen a decent amount of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies, and so many others I couldn’t possibly name. Take that western love and add it to my love of fantasy and weird westerns are clearly going to be winners in my book. Here I showcase my love for five:

  1. The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher. (To be fair, this book makes it on a LOT of my lists.)

“Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation. “

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

2. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift. “

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

3. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

“Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood and he turns to black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding—at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead her to find her true kin . . . if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.”

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

4. American Hippo by Sarah Gailey

“Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.”

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (Not a weird western but a good western.)

“Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.”

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As you can see, all of these are rated 5 out of 5 stars so I may be a little more in love with this genre than necessary.

Any weird westerns not on this list that you think I should check out? Leave a comment, I’m always in the market for more weird westerns!

Where the Crawdads Sing – Book Review

Published Date: August 14, 2018

Publishing Co.: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 384

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Where the Crawdads Sing is undoubtedly, beautifully written. The descriptions of the land, wildlife, and ecosystems bring the narrative to life, both entertaining and educating you in one finely weaved tapestry of the environment.

Kya’s family is what the town calls Swamp Trash. They’re not treated as part of the community, but like strangers to be whispered about behind their backs. One by one, as family members slowly disappear, young Kya is left in a small shack in the marshlands of North Carolina. No one in the community tries to help her. None of them care, they just grab their children and walk in the other direction. Everyone except two boys, one the son of a ship’s captain, the other the town’s star quarterback and the black man who runs the dock where people in the swamp gas their boats. Why is it important that I mention that he’s black? This is set in the 1950’s and the racism was flagrant back then. So when the white people of the town turn their backs on a small white child, but a poor black man steps up and helps her survive, I think it’s worth pointing out. People are good people based solely on their character, nothing else.

When the quarterback mysteriously dies at the bottom of a fire tower, the town once again begins whispering about the Marsh Girl and his secret relationship with her. The son of a prominent family, half the town swears she’s guilty and they’ll vow it in a court of law. Not for the first time, Kya is fighting for her life.

While I did enjoy reading this, I felt that the plot was drawn out for far too long. Which, when you think about it, is pretty impressive for a book that’s only 384 pages long. So my final verdict is; read it if you want, it is enjoyable but, it’s not something I’m going to be thrusting at people I know and insisting that they read it.

Magic for Liars – Book Review

Published Date: June 4, 2019

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 336

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Gamble is a small time private investigator who deals with mostly, disability fraud and spouse cheating cases. Today, however, the local school of magic has approached her to investigate the death of a teacher, first ruled an accident. The principle of the school suspects that it was actually murder, and she can’t sleep until she gets a second opinion.

Ivy need the money, and the notoriety. The problem is, she’ll have to confront her estranged sister. The sister she’s been jealous of for a lifetime, for getting to be magic while Ivy was just ordinary. It’s not just her sister she’ll have to contend with though, it’s a whole league of people she doesn’t know how to interact with. People born to magic, who use it for such trivial reasons. She’ll have to manage her anger, on top of solving her first murder case.

Sarah Gailey’s strength is definitely in characters and their development. Ivy’s internal struggles are deeply relateable. Her interactions with people she’s uncomfortable with, and her attempts to hide her own magic inability, make for a fascinating look into the human psyche. The plot was fairly straightforward for a murder mystery. Gailey dabbles with a couple of red herrings but in all honestly, I had the mystery figured out far before our awkward PI did.

I’m left wondering, does Rahul give her a chance to explain? We’ll never know though as this is a stand alone novel. Some mysteries never get solved.

My Life Among the Underdogs: A Memoir – Book Review

Published Date: January 15, 2019

Publishing Co.: William Morrow

Pages: 245

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My mission is to rescue. My hope is that one day I won’t have to.”

If you’ve heard that quote before, there’s a good chance that you’re a fan of Animal Planet’s Pit Bulls & Parolees. This memoir belongs to the feisty, red-headed woman who started Villabos Rescue Center, first rescuing wolves and wolf hybrids, then turning to one of the dog’s with the baddest reputations, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Currently, the rescue houses close to 400 dogs of all breeds and employs parolees to help with all of the work. It takes one tough person to hold all of that together.

In My Life Among the Underdogs, we get a peek into Tia’s life before starting the rescue. First, being raised a cowgirl by her stepmother who taught her to depend on no one else, to a drifting young adult, to an exotic animal trainer, to a dog trainer for Hollywood, then to rescuing full time. All of this while giving birth to and raising two beautiful daughters, who would become strong, independent and compassionate just like their mother.

We also learn the life stories of some of the top dogs of Tia’s life. These chapters were both uplifting and heartbreaking. You learn about these wonderful, resilient creatures and all they taught both Tia and humanity and then, you hear about their passing. How can that not tug at your heart? If you’ve had a dog, you’re probably all too familiar with that pain, so it’s impossible not to relate.

There are not too many people in this world that I truly idolize but, Tia Torres is one of the them. Life spent rescuing animals is hard, I’ve dabbled in it myself, no where near the size that Tia has. While rewarding, at times it can be absolutely soul crushing. You have to look the worst of humanity in the eye, not engage to the best of your ability and just get the poor, tortured animal the fuck out of dodge. It’s a hard thing to dedicate your life to. Animal rescue workers are more prone to depression and suicide, and it’s understandable.

I hope to see more memoirs from Tia Torres or anyone on her rescue crew. It helps bring more people into the rescue fold, even if it’s adopting instead of shopping, every changed mind is progress and we still have a long ways to go.

My one complaint, and I don’t think I’ve said this since I was little, is that there are no pictures! I mean, I want one million dog pictures, but if there could have just have been ten or so, that would have been great. I loved hearing about these amazing dogs but I would have also really liked to see their cute little faces.

Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) – Book Review

Published Date: June 2, 2015

Publishing Co.: Jo Fletcher Books

Pages: 592

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My review of Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoat’s #2).

There is a reason that this is referred to as swash-buckling fun, it is that, but it’s also so much more.

Knight’s Shadow begins to take a darker turn. We return to the crew with Falcio paralyzed from neatha poisoning. Each morning, the paralysis takes longer and longer to go away, all the while they’re surrounded by enemies. All the while, Falcio is slowly dying. That is the end he sees coming every morning he wakes and cannot move, cannot speak, can hardly breath. If it weren’t for his friends standing guard over his body at night, his enemies could slip in and easily finish the legendary Greatcoat.

The mission begins the same, to put Aline on the throne, but they’ve underestimated the game. There is a secret third player playing havoc with their plans. One moment they’re gaining ground, the next they’re knocked down two pegs and are fighting for their lives once again. The hits keep coming, but how much can one group of people take?

This novel ended up being so much more than I had expected, and to get too detailed would be to ruin the many excellent turns of plot. There were several moments where I was left simply with goosebumps and I was nothing but a fiend that had to continue to find out what happened next.

This easily climbs to the top of my favorite fantasy series list.

Birthday Book Haul – Year 32

Year 32 might seem like an odd addition to the title BUT I get some kind of birthday book haul every year, so for post purposes, we’ve got to distinguish the little guys.

My birthday shenanigans are officially over. It was quite the celebration this past weekend though. Ignited Moth came to visit for both book club and my birthday. (Don’t fret, I already told her she needs to get back to posting. 😛 )

If there is one thing we love besides books, it’s margaritas. We went out to the little mexican restaurant in town that we know has good ones only to find out that they now do MARGARITA FLIGHTS.

That pink one is prickly pear and it is life.

As per usual, Ms. Moth is the gift master supreme. Seriously, trying to out gift her is hard. Here is a peek at just a couple of the things she gave me:

Instant new favorite coffee mug.

We also HAD to adventure to the used bookstore in town. They have both books and cute cats that follow you around begging for pets.

Once I found one that I wanted, I just kept finding more.

It was a fantastic weekend. ❤

Have you read any of these books? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love margaritas?

The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery – Book Review

Published Date: September 12, 2006

Publishing Co.: Broadway Books

Pages: 324

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

You know you’ve worked in the medical field for awhile when you can read about gonorrhea and syphilis on your lunch without losing your appetite. Some people may count that as a negative, I count it as a positive. It takes a hell of a lot to ruin my lunch.

For myself, this was very much a one chapter at a time read. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s not even too text book like in any matter. The stories are fairly fascinating and John Hunter was a character, there just wasn’t the pull to dig in deep and not let up until I was finished. Perhaps in true Hunterian fashion, I had to contemplate the works and dissect the knowledge at my own pace.

John Hunter had a thirst for knowledge that could hardly be quenched. From his early days, until his last, he needed to know more about how the world worked. About anatomy, about evolution (though it wasn’t dared called that back then), and disease states. His approach to science greatly influenced the scientific method that we know today. He began to change how wounds were treated, depending less on blood letting and more on experimentation to find a better way. He improved surgical methods.

While he had many admirers, he had just as many enemies who did not like him challenging the accepted way to practice medicine. This almost never slowed him down though. He pushed boundaries that led to many advancements. He also had a few theories that ended up slowing down progress on other things, for example, he conducted an experiment to prove that gonorrhea and syphilis were essentially the same disease. There was a flaw in his method that he never did find out about, as we know today that they are not the same disease.

There are so many things that this one man is responsible for influencing in both science and medicine, that I could go on for pages. Instead, if you’re interested, go pick up this book. It will educate you far more than I would ever be able to. He was a revolutionary and a rebel, and you know how much I like rebels.

Warning: lots of animal torture.

“Hunter had died, as he had lived, in rebellion, speaking his mind.”