Charlie Donlea’s Don’t Believe It [Book Review]

amazon ID: jabberjaw-20


In 2007, Grace Seabold has been tried and convicted of murdering medical student Julian Crist in St. Lucia. She is serving time in Bordelaise Correctional Facility where she maintains her innocence.

10 year later, 2017, she has reached out to documentary filmmaker and old friend Sydney Ryan. Sydney has made a few documentaries in which wrongfully convicted people have gone free due to her investigative style and storytelling. Grace is hoping Sydney can do the same for her.

Although Sydney has produced documentaries that have set wrongly convicted people free, she’s still struggling to get her documentary film career off the ground. She has one more chance to impress the powers that be at the Network in New York, and she’s hoping this documentary will do it. Thus begins Sydney’s quest for the truth on whether Grace killed Julian or not.

Each evidence Sydney uncovers or learns about from the police and people that knew either Julian or Grace is making Grace look more and more guilty. Sydney is now wondering if Grace really did kill Julian. She’s not only conflicted, but she has a duty to her friend and to the Network. For her friend, she needs to prove she’s innocent if she is. For the network, she needs to produce a documentary that will bring it money. And she must do this while dealing with demons of her.


After finishing The Girl That Was Taken (read my review here), I was anxious for Donlea’s next book and received an advanced copy. Upon reading the first chapter I was intrigued. Reading the second chapter, it was OK. But after that, I became very bored and when Sydney showed up, I really wanted to throw the book out the window. But I couldn’t because then I would be throwing my Kindle out the window, and I can’t let that happen.

I bypassed a lot of pages because I felt the book was repeating things a lot. What Sydney learns from the police is repeated when she writes her story for the documentary. When she visits Grace in prison, she repeats what she learned from the police to Grace with Grace responding with one or two words. Once I reached the halfway point in the book, I felt it was time to stop the suffering, and I did. I stopped reading and went on to something else.

Although I didn’t care for the book, I am not going discourage anyone else from reading it. Of the 20 plus books I’ve read, there’s only been two I actually advised others not to be read. This one is not one of them. But be forewarned that the book does get repetitious at times and you may find the characters not likable or underdeveloped.

Don’t Believe It will be released 29 May 2018. Pre-orders: Amazon | Barnes and Noble


Close to Home (DI Adam Fawley Series Book 1) by Cara Hunter [Book Review]

amazon ID: jabberjaw-20


It’s 2016, July in Oxford, England, and The Masons are having a bar-b-que for the parents and kids of the local school. It’s a way for Sharon to get to know Daisy’s classmates and their parents. Barry Mason is cooking on the grill, while Sharon is trying to be the life of the party. Their son Leo is just being Leo.


Eight-year-old Daisy Mason has been reported missing. She was last seen wearing a mermaid customer, but it’s not her usual costume. Her usual costume is Daisey, like her name. Her room is made up of daisies. The Masons say they saw Daisy running around the yard during the bar-b-que but can’t say for sure because neither of them paid that close attention. The brother, Leo, can’t be sure either because he was too occupied with something else. DI Adam Fawley and DC Gislingham arrive to get more information about the disappearance and anything else that will help with the investigation. But the parents are dodgy and Leo (age 10)..well, Leo is just Leo.


DI (Detective Inspector) Fawley is still dealing with the loss of his son Jake, who passed away a year earlier. Therefore, this case hits a bit home for him. The loss of a child, no matter the case, at times, is a bit too much for him to handle. Fawley wants to solve the case quickly. DC (Detective Constable) Gislingham just wants to solve the case. With many other players from the police department on the case, it becomes a cat-and-mouse game with the Masons, minus Leo.

Barry is hiding things and Sharon could careless about her missing daughter. Sharon’s only concern is how she looks when she’s at the police station and definitely how she looks in front of the camera when she’s supposed to be there pleading for the safe return of her daughter, Daisy. Everything for Sharon is perception. She’s more concern with how people will view her than hoping to find her daughter alive. Barry is concerned with finding Daisy alive, but with trying to hide is own secrets, showing his concern stars to fade into the background.


I was convinced who had something to do with Daisy’s disappearance but wasn’t too sure if she would be found dead or alive. The latter would remain a question until the very end of the book, and I do mean the very end. As for who is the culprit, just when I had someone made, more suspects come into play. About midway through the book, things become complicated and a bit confusing. As someone whose attention span is rather short, I started to lose track of who was who. And when a new character was introduced, I really became confused. But that has nothing to do with the writing.  This is strictly me. To adjust I found myself rereading a sentence or a paragraph again, which is a good thing for I picked up on certain things the second time around.


The story is told through the eyes of DI Fawley. We are taking this journey and investigation into the disappearance of Daisy Mason with him and his colleagues. The story is told as each day passes. Some mystery books will tell the story with a few days or months passing, but Close To Home didn’t do that. If DI Fawley went home, you went home with him. If he got a phone call in the middle of the night, you got the phone call with him. Going this route with the book really shows the frustration the police face when solving missing children cases.

When there were interviews going on at the station, it was written like a script. You felt like you were on the other side of the two-way mirror witnessing the whole thing.


Flashbacks are told throughout the book titled 27 days before the disappearence, or 55 days before the disappearance. I liked how the days were in chronological order. It starts out 27 days then a few chapters down it could be 57 days and few more down it could be 40 days. This book made you sit up and take note of what was happening those days before Daisy disappeared. The different interactions Daisy had with her father and mother. The kids at school. The parents of the kids she went to school with. We are shown Sharon’s childhood to an extent as we are shown Barry’s life before Sharon. The flashback of Sharon just made me dislike her even more.


This was a book hard to put down. From the first page until the very last (read the Epilogue as well, please), I was intrigued. I love a good mystery, suspense book, but this one is by far my favorite and looking forward to the second book in the DI Adam Fawley series. I have been touch with the author is going to try to get me an advanced copy of the second book for my review.


I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, suspense book. I promise you won’t be disappointed. But you must know the slang of the English people.

Fag is used a lot throughout the book. Fag means cigarette. I bring this up because if you didn’t you know what fag meant, you would be bit bothered by Fawley needing a fag.

Sod 1(British English, taboo, slang) used to refer to a person, especially a man, that you are annoyed with or think is unpleasant You stupid sod! (British English, taboo, slang) used with an adjective to refer to a person, especially a man The poor oldsod got the sack yesterday. You lucky sod(Oxford Learn’s Dictionary).

You can purchase the book by clicking on the book’s title Close to Home: A Novel (A DI Adam Fawley Novel) / 314 pages, published by Penguin Books on 6 March 2018.

The Subway Girls [Book Review]


I received an advance copy of  The Subway Girls due to me being a book reviewer. I choose it by the synopsis

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever. (


Then I started reading it and it begins in March of 1949. I was hooked straightaway. Why? Because I enjoy books set in a certain time period for I learn about those periods and the people that lived during that time. And this book really gave insight not only into how men thought, how women behaved and adhered to as their duties as women, but also how the city the story is set in, looked and felt like.


Set in New York, 1949, Charlotte Friedman is a 21-year-old college student in her last year at school. Her goal in life is to work in the advertising field. She has applied to the top advertising company in New York called J. Walter Thompson. After losing out on the job she hopes to get a job in the typing pool. The typing pool was just that, a pool of typers, and this was the most a female could expect to become back in those days outside of secretary or housewife. Charlotte is even turned down for that job at the same company. Then there’s her father’s paint store.


Charlotte’s father owns a paint store, kinda like an Ace Hardware Store but geared towards paint for fences, houses and the likes. The plan was for Charlotte’s brother, Harry, was to take over the store once her father retired, but Harry didn’t return home while fighting in World War II. Due to Harry’s death, her father has left the burden of the store, working in it on Saturdays. But the paint shot isn’t doing and her father, Fred, has to dismiss his assistant manager and wants Charlotte to work full-time once she finishes college. This is a blow to Charlotte’s plans. Charlotte believes that if she enters and wins Miss. Subways, she can bring more attention to her father’s shop to where it will make the money it needs and she won’t have to work in it full-time after college.

JULY 2018

We are introduced to Olivia, a big player in the advertising world who faces the same issues women back in 1949 did and that’s having to prove herself as a valued employee. Olivia has been in the game for a long time but finds herself having to work harder and longer hours than her male counterpart to create an ad for a big ad agency in New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority. With help from her neighbor, Mrs. Glasser, Olivia learns that the struggles she’s facing today, Mrs. Glasser faced in her day. Through her connection to Mrs. Glasser, Olivia has the idea to bring Miss. Subways back to life by featuring the original Miss. Subways, as many, as she can find, for her ad idea for the MTA.


I liked how Susie Orman Schnall had each chapter set in either 1949 or 2018. By starting the book off in 1949 with a seemingly intelligent woman with more going for herself than staying at home to raise kids and then bringing us to 2018, Olivia, to show that not much has changed for women. The only difference is women are allowed to have careers, but sometimes the struggle is still there when in you’re in a career that been considered a man’s world.

You find yourself rooting for both Charlotte and Olivia in different aspects. You really appreciate the times you live in when you read how women were treated and thought of in the 40’s and 50’s. And do I dare say, even today? Beauty is the way to make your mark. Strong-willed women are looked at as B’s. Strong-willed men are looked at high achievers. Not all the time, but sometimes.


I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. And I’ll give it 5 out of 5 stars anywhere else.


This book was reading too true to me about the Miss. Subways contest that I looked it up and here’s some of the links I found with great information.

Miss. Subways Through The Years

Miss. Subways

Miss. Subway Winners Through The Years


The Subway Girls comes out 10 Julye 2018 but you can pre-order the book at Amazon 


This Could Hurt: A Novel

The Best of Everything



Southern Discomfort by Caroline Fardig [Book Review]



Quinn Bellandini runs a B&B with her sister Deliah and their father Papa Sal in Savannah, Georgia. Quinn is given a pair of theater tickets to see a play by Drew. She misunderstands the offering of tickets as Drew, a long time friend, asking her out on a date. Upon feeling awkward, and not really wanting to go to the play, she gives the tickets to her sister.

Feeling guilty about giving the tickets away and her misinterpreting Drew asking her about going to play as a date, she decides to confess. It’s late night, approximately 10 pm when Quinn heads over to Green’s, a restaurant owned by Drew and Jason Green. Drew isn’t there by Jason is. Unfortunately for Quinn, he’s dead. To make matters worse, Quinn is the one that found him and while trying to leave the restaurant in a hurry, she has slipped and fallen into a puddle of Jason’s blood.


Quinn is the first to find Jason, which makes her the prime suspect. But it’s Jason’s brother Drew that is arrested for the murder. Not wanting her friend to go to prison for a murder she knows he didn’t commit, Quinn embarks on some amateur investigation that produces more secrets than she expected. When Deliah finds out what’s she’s doing, she joins in the sleuthing.


I received an advance copy of the book based on the premise (basically what I just said above, but shorter). The copy I received is an unedited copy. Meaning, it’s not the final copy that will be released to the public 6 March 2018.

I enjoy stories set in the south for I love the south, although I live up north. I was expecting the book to take me to Savannah, Georgia. Where it ended up taking me was the worse Lifetime TV movie I’ve ever seen.


I try to visualize the book as a movie. It helps me get a clear understanding of what I’m reading. I feel if I can visualize what’s taking place, the writing is good. And at times, excellent. This was neither. Although I could visualize everything that was going on, my mind kept going back to the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen where the writing is horrible, the plot is off kilter and the acting is just as bad. It’s also one of those movies you can’t turn off because you have to see how it ends.


There were a number of southern sayings I want to share that I feel were forced.

Well, sugar honey iced tea.
Diddly darn it!
Ding Dang it!
Cheese and crackers.

Each of these saying was said when Quinn would run into a brick wall when seeking information. And each time they came up I laughed for they seemed, well forced.

The story as a whole didn’t ring southern. Although the family was a transplant from New York, they writing felt more New York, than Savannah, Georgia.

The author, Caroline Fardig, would refer to tea as sweet tea when offering some to anyone. She could have said tea. We all know tea in the south is sweet. Food, that is found in the south, was constantly brought up. I wish I could remember some of them. As with the southern phrases, the naming of food seemed forced to make the book seem authentic.


When I read a book yet to be released, I don’t do any research on the author. I believe I mentioned this in my last review. I like my fresh mind and eyes to read the book with no preconceived notions about the author or the author’s writing style. This allows me to unbiased towards the book and/or the author.

In the back book of this book, there was a list of books Fardig has written. I was sure she wrote mostly young adult books and this was her first foray into adult contemporary. Was I wrong or what?

One series of booked mentioned were the Lizzie Hart Mysteries. There are five books in the series. AH HA! I thought. Lizzie Hart must be teenagers, along the lines of Nancy Drew, and the writer IS in fact, a young adult mystery writer. How wrong was I. How wrong as I about the other books mentioned. None of them were young adult books.But I figured with a name like Lizzie Hart surely the protagonist had to be in her teens. And with a title like It’s Just a Little Crush” who wouldn’t think this was set in high school? So much for judging a book by its title.


I won’t be reading another book by Caroline Fardig, but I won’t deter anyone from reading Southern Discomfort. That’s if you like simple writing, corny sayings, and forced southern references such a food and sayings. I will say this about the book. I was surprised by who killed Jason. That’s not to say Drew didn’t do it, but it does not say he didn’t do it.

I give the book 3 out of 5 stars. No matter how much I was laughing at force southern sayings in the book and how many times Quinn rubbed her temples throughout the book, it was a decent read.

You can purchase Southern Discomfort by Caroline Fardig below

Southern Discomfort: A Southern B&B Mystery (released 6 March 2018)

There’s another Southern Discomfort that came out a while back by Rita Mae Brown that I really enjoyed, and I think you will too. It’s not a mystery book. I just a good southern drama book in which the writing is authentic and real. Just click on this link
Southern Discomfort to purchase the book from Amazon.

Meet Hortensia Reedmuller Banastre, a beautiful woman entrenched on old money, white magnolia and a loveless marriage–until she meets an utterly gorgeous young prizefighter.  Amid such memorable characters as Banana Mae Parker and Blue Rhonda Latrec (two first-class whores) and Reverend Linton Ray (who wears his clerical collar too tightly for anyone’s good), Hortensia struggles to survive the hurricane of emotions caused by her scandalous love.  How she ultimately triumphs is a touching and beautiful human drama–an intense and exuberant affair of the heart. (Goodreads)


Thandi’s Love by Angel Strong [Book Review]


Thandi’s Love by Angel Strong is set during slavery, in which Tom Lexington, Jr. is needing help during the cotton harvest season and seeks out Thandi and her brother Issac to assist. Issac will work in the field, becoming a second overseer to Ben. Thandi will work along Esther, the house manager (aka slave). Tom, Thandi, and Issac used to be childhood friends, for Thandi’s mother used to be a slave of Tom’s father Tom Sr. Since Sr’s passing, Jr is now the owner of the plantation and has his own slaves, inside and outside the house.

amazon affiliate ID: jabberjaw0c-20


Tom has always had a thing for Thandi, ever since they were kids. But now that he’s seen what a beauty Thandi has become, his heart beats even more for her, while his wife’s eyes show nothing but contempt and anger towards both Thandi and her brother Issac.

Soon as Thandi’s arrival Tom begins spending as much time as he can with her and her brother, but more with Thandi. This is one of the reason’s his wife, Anna has contempt and anger for Thandi. The other reason being is Tom invites them to have dinner and breakfast at the family dining table. Not the kitchen table where the in-house slaves eat, but the formal dining table reserved for Tom and his wife and dinner guests.

Thandi likes the attention Tom is showing her and she likes the room she’s able to stay in during harvest season.


There are other storylines within the book than just the relationship between Tom and Thandi. After all, it is set during slavery, so you can pretty much guess the other storylines.


When I started reading the book I was enamored with the writing style of Angel Strong. I felt the writing alone would get me through a love story, which is one genre of books of books I stay away from. The reason I read this one is due to author reaching out to me. But then I started losing interest pretty quickly. The late night walk in the garden by Thandi and Tom was the beginning of the end for me. I felt the description was long and drawn out. The dialogue between Thandi and Tom was also long and drawn out. I found myself yelling, “Spit it out, will ya!” Conversations between other people were of the same caliber.

There were scenes that were also long and drawn out that could have ended sooner than they did. Think back to a movie you’ve watched in which a particular scene seemed to drag on, you thought it would never end. That was some of the scenes in this book. But I soldiered on. Hoping things would get better.


There were a number of other things I found wrong with this historical fiction book set during slavery. Slaves, no matter who they are, never eat at the main dining room table. The book should have kept it real when it came to slaves, especially those who worked outside the house. The way this book was written, it seemed like everyone had it pretty good for being slaves, inside and definitely inside.

I think I expected more of this book than what I got. If I’m going to reach a historical fiction book based on a horrific tragedy that took place, in the United States or in Europe, I expect reality to be incorporated into the fantasy. I didn’t get that with Thandi’s Love. The only part of the book that had any effect on me was the writing style. Other than that, shock, anger, happiness, nor any other emotion was garnered from me save for wanting the scene to hurry along.

Would I recommend this book to anyone? No. Would I deter anyone from reading it? Definitely not!

I give it two out of five stars.

Thandi’s Love: A Novel <- click on the link to view and/or purchase a copy of the book.
published 1 Jan 2017 by CreateSpace, an independent publishing platform.

Losers Bracket by Chris Crutcher [Book Review]

 amazon ID: jabberjaw0c-20


Annie Boots is a 17-year-old high school student who is living two lives. She has her life with her foster family, the Howards and their son Marvin, and then there’s her life of sneaking around to see her biological mother and half-sister Shelia. To accomplish seeing her bio family Annie uses the sports she competes in during the summer as their secret rendezvous sites. It’s not long until Annie learns that Pop Howard has known all long of these meetings. But this is the least of Annie’s worries.

As mentioned, Annie plays in summer sports, and the book opens with her sport of choice being basketball. But right now, her team is in the loser’s bracket.

Loser Bracket is defined as such

The first-round winners proceed into the W bracket and the losers proceed into the L bracket. The bracket is conducted in the same manner as a single-elimination tournament, except that the losers of each round “drop down” into the L bracket(Source

This can also be said of Annie’s place in her bio family.


Annie has been in foster care since she was in the single-digit age but was lucky enough to be placed with the Howards. Her sister, Shelia, wasn’t so lucky. Shelia wasn’t lucky in the families she was placed in nor the number of time she had to move. Their mother, Nancy, is a drug-addict and shoplifter who choose drugs over her daughters. Shelia is the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. Annie, on the other hand, is the apple that fell from the tree, but somehow was able to roll away.

Shelia has a five-year-old son named Frankie who is suffering the same fate Shelia did with regards to his mother choosing drugs over him. However, Frankie, thus far, has not ended up in the system and if Annie has anything to do with it, he won’t.


When Annie switches to swimming (her choices of sports are more of a coping mechanism than a choice) it’s during one of the swim meets that Frankie disappears during a chaotic scene caused by her mother Nancy and sister Shelia. Through the search for Frankie we are introduced to Walter, Nancy’s latest boyfriend, and according to Annie, the most decent one.


The books open with Annie at one of the basketball games and the loser bracket her team is part of, mostly because of her. We are introduced to three of her friends Hannah, Mariah, and Leah, but it’s Leah who is seen throughout the book. Marvin, the Howards biological son, age 13, is also part of Annie’s life. He’s a well-adjusted kid who prefers books to sports. Because of this, his father, Pop Howard, thinks his son might be gay. As Marvin puts it when it comes to Annie, “she’s the son he father wished Marvin was.” We are privy to Annie’s life through the eyes of Annie, which is one thing I loved about the book. I enjoy books written in the first person for it helps me experience what the protagonist is experiencing. When it comes to Annie’s counseling sessions, it is seen through the eyes of Emily.

After Frankie’s disappearance, Annie begins to spiral more out of control. Throughout the book, we wonder if the parachute will open or not for Annie.

We’re taken on a journey of Annie Boot’s life beginning with the summer of her soon-to-be-senior. Along the way, we’re introduced to a cast of characters. These characters, which include her foster brother Marvin and her friend Leah.


Chris Crutcher has a way of finding the teenage voice in his stories. And as a male who writes from a female’s perspective on things, he does a great job. He doesn’t sugar coat anything. Chris makes us think about our own lives, regardless if we are teenagers ourselves or into our adulthood thinking about our teenage years because of this story.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone along with Athletic Shorts which is a compilation of short stories by Chris Crutcher. Athletic Shorts was my first introduction to Crutcher’s work via an email I received on recommended reading. Since reading that book I’ve become a fan. I plan on reading other books by Chris but was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Losers Bracket before it’s release on 3 April 2018.

You may pre-order Losers Bracket by clicking on the book’s title Losers Bracket.

Losers Bracket is 256 pages published by Greenwillow Books, part of Haper Collins / pubished date 3 April 2018

I give the book 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review of Extinction by Josephine Wilson


Extinction by Josephine Wilson, tells the story of Professor Frederick Lothian, a well-renowned instructor of engineering, is now living in an assisting living facility. His wife Martha has been gone for two. His daughter, Caroline, is adopted. She studies animals that are extinct or are in danger of being extinct. Caroline is also an aboriginal. His son, Callum, lives in a facility that tends to those with physical or mental challenges. Callum was involved in a car accident 13 years prior that left him brain damaged.


Frank was a well respected instructed at uni and now he’s been sent to live in a retirement home that allows people to have their own apartments (rooms really) and carry on with their lives as they always have.

But Frank is sad for a number of reasons. He’s gone from a great job, a good wife (who drove him crazy) and raising two kids, to living alone and the glory years of teaching long behind him. Frank thinks a lot about life and how it’s passed.  With his wife gone, his connection to happier days is his daughter Carolina, who is dealing with issues of her own.


Then there’s Jan from next door. This was one character I didn’t care for but she served a purpose for Frank.  Jan learns that her five-year-old grandson might have to go into foster care if no one can take him in. And to avoid this Jan agrees to be his legal guardian. Frank wonders how is she going to take care of a five-year-old in small living quarters. But to keep from losing her grandson to the system, she will do what she needs to. This determination relights a fire within Frank and the course of the book begins to change, and in a good way.


As mentioned, Frank daughter is adopted and was an only child until Callum came long. Carolina is also an aboriginal (and her adopted parents are white). She is trying to cope with being adopted, even though she’s in her 40’s (there’s something about being adopted us, adoptees, never get over and it because before we’re adopted we’re abandoned). On top of being adopted, she learns she’s aboriginal, or of the indigenous people.  Her being adopted and being part of the indigenous people has driven her to study extinct animals. I believe this is because, she herself, feel like she’s is extinct. But the extinction part, to me, is more towards the history of indigenous people.


The book is written in the third person but in a way, every description (without being overly described) gives a clear picture of what is taken place, the set up of the room and other descriptives given in the book to allow the reader to feel what the person being spoken at that time, is feeling. Not only feeling on the inside, but the feeling of an object being described.

The stories the author tells when taking us back to the life of Frank and Martha and their kids are so well written that you are able to connect current day with past events.

But of all the things the author does with the book, she makes us realize how fast life can pass you by and if you stop living because of your current situation. It’s a hard pill to swallow to know that one day we will all be old and there’s nothing we can do about it. But we don’t have to be a prisoner of our circumstances.

I think everyone should read this book. If you’re young, learn something about getting old. If you’re older, you will find yourself thinking about your life gone-by. With a variety of characters in the book, readers will be able to relate to one of them. For me, I was able to relate to both Frank and Carolina.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

  • Paperback: 300 pages but also available on the Kindle or Audiobook
  • Publisher: UWA Publishing (December 20, 2016)
  • Language: English

Book Review of Better Off Dead by Michael Fleeman

courtesy of Wild Blue Press

On August 17, 2014, around 7:30 pm, Robert Limon has been found dead by co-worker Shaun Ware. Both Robert and Shaun worked for BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway). Robert was soon to end his 12-hour day shift and Shaun was about to start is 12-hour graveyard shift. The apparent weapon was a .44 caliber revolver. The suspects aren’t many but the suspicions are all around. It’s not long before detectives are able to zone in on a suspect or suspects. When it comes to light a love triangle may have been the motive, the detectives have more than they can chew.Better Off Dead by Michael Fleeman poses a good premise and what could have been a great suspenseful read if it wasn’t for the extremely mediocre writing. From the first page to the last, the book left me wanting it to end rather than them find the killer or killers. I was flabbergasted to find out this is Michael Feldman’s 11th book.

The dialogue between two parties was long and drawn out. Basically, too much information. The descriptions of locations were also long and drawn out. I’m reading a murder mystery book, not a road atlas. Fleeman also lost me in a lot of places to where I had to go back to re-read passages or sections to figure out what’s going on.

I was let down down a great deal from this book. As mentioned the premise sounded great and I was expecting writing like that of Ann Rule and M. William Phelps. Instead, I got the writing of came off as someone trying too hard to be a good writer of true crime.

I give this book 1star just on it writing alone. If the writing had been better I would have given the book 5 stars.

Sabrina and Robert Limon

Better Off Dead: A Sordid True Story of Sex, Sin and Murder

Book Review of The Night Child by Anna Quinn

DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced copy of the book. It won’t be released until 30 January 2018, but don’t bother reading it. My other disclaimer is, I try to be very open when I do my reviews. I try to keep my deep personal thoughts out. If I do put my personal opinion in, as in the case of The Shoeless Child, in which I gave my honest opinion, but encouraged others to read the book. I may have disliked Shoeless Child a great deal, but I didn’t want others to dislike it without reading it first. My goal in my reviews is to be honest, without being downright mean. However, with The Night Child, I am going to be completely honest in my review because there’s no other way around it.

The bad writing along with unbelieve scenes and actions just don’t allow me to write this review in any other way than in a no-holds-barred way.


The premise of The Night Child is the protagonist, Nora (a high school AP English teacher), sees a vision of a child (female), towards the back of her classroom (I’m seriously trying not to laugh as I type this). The child doesn’t have arms or legs, just a head and I believe shoulders. Errr, that should be enough to have you all laughing. And I’m speaking of the laughter that comes when something is so ridiculous, all you can do is laugh.


The husband, Paul, is a complete asswipe as it is. The daughter, Fiona, is a pain in the ass spoiled kid. And Nora is a straight up nutter.

Paul is a developer, or something like that, and is working on a big business deal that could get the business and himself big bucks and him a possible promotion. He ignores his wife and thinks she overreacts to things. I’m inclined to agree. The daughter, Fiona, is very much catered to by her mother. And Nora is just a straight up whack job with pent-up childhood memories. Once they are brought to light, you really don’t care.


As mentioned, Nora is nutter. And this is the kind of nutter that will make you nuts just reading about her. She decides to see a psychiatrist (I decided to search this god-awful book to find out what David is). And I believe it’s on the second or third meeting (trust me, I’m not giving anything away by my next words) Nora’s other personality comes out, and her personality is named Margaret. Margaret is six-years-old and just as annoying as Nora. Margaret, Nora has come to assume, is the ghost she saw in her classroom.


Let’s start with the writing. Chapter 1 and I believe Chapter 2 is good. I started the book believing I was going to really enjoy the ride. The first chapter really starts out good until she sees the vision of a child in her room. However, that’s easy to overlook because it’s a brief encounter and the writer, Anna Quinn, moves on to something else.

It’s when Nora goes to see David, the shrink, the writing takes a spiral turn down a dark, muddy road which seems to have no end to stupidity. I’m not an expert in what happens in sessions like this, but someone revealing their other personalities shouldn’t happen in the second or third session. This was the first *eye rolling* that took place. The second *eye rolling* was the description of Margaret emerging, or making herself known.

Prior to the Margaret reveal, the writer had Nora constantly clutching a pillow, tightening her knees, blinking rapidly, other extremely stupid, eye-rolling things, that seemed way off base. I think what made it seem so way off is there were no indications prior to all this that Nora was a straight up whack job. If the book slowly introduced us to Nora’s mental state, and the psychiatry visits were at least five deep before revealing Margaret, maybe, just maybe, it would be believable. But that’s not what happened. We are introduced to Nora in chapter one and taken straight down the rabbit hole of insanity.


I ended up scheming over a chapter in which Nora was at the psychiatrist office because not only did the writing turn juvenile, the scenes described were painful to read. Not painful for Nora, but painful for the reader. These scenes went into too much detail.

When David retrieved a bottle of water to pour into a bottle or cup was so exact to where the writer documented every little thing he did pertaining to the water bottle. I was trying to find the exact passage, but unable to do so. But basically, she would say and mind you, this is me making up something as an example of how overly detailed she was,”he moved from his chair to get a bottle of water. Putting one foot in front of the other until he reached the water. When he returned to his chair, with his left hand holding the bottle, he unscrewed the cap with his right hand. With the cap off the water bottle, he poured the water into a glass sitting on his desk, near the edge. After pouring the water, he swiveled his chair around and with his left hand, he threw the empty bottle in the trash can.”

My job as a reviewer is not to rewrite the book, just to review it. With that being said, the passage example I provided didn’t need that detailed. I’m not sure if the writer was trying to fill up space or felt we, as readers, were that dense, we needed to know exactly how someone retrieves water, or holds a pillow tightly or removes a cap from a marker to be used on a whiteboard (these are things that take place in the book).


When I read a book, I visualize everything I’m reading, which is how most people read books. But when you start laughing and meaning, side-splitting laughter and there’s no laughter to be had in what you’re reading, it’s time to call it quits. The book isn’t going to get any better.

I stopped reading 67% into the book for I knew this book wasn’t going to get any better. And those that gave the book good reviews must either be friends with Anna Quinn or didn’t want to hurt the author’s feelings. As for me, and I’ve mentioned this already as well, I try to be honest without being downright mean. But in this case, I’ve decided to be brutally honest about my thoughts on the book.

I give this book 1 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I would have liked to give it negative 5 out of five stars. This book was an absolute waste of my time

The Night Child is Anna Quinn’s first book and I hope her last. I read her bio and it says, “She has thirty years of experience teaching and leading writing workshops across the country.” This was my face when I read that

And what I said while making that face

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I wish I could say give this book a try for there’s probably something I missed that you may pick up on, but I can’t. If a book hasn’t gotten any better by the time you reach 67% it’s not going to get any better.


There were a group of words in the book in Chapter 17 I absolutely loved and going to use to describe my blog:

This was the only good thing to come out of the book.


Betrayal In Blue by Burl Barer

NYPD officers Mike Dowd and Kenny Eurell knew there were two ways to get rich quick in Brooklyn’s Lower East Side. You either became drug dealers, or you robbed drug dealers. They decided to do both. 

“I promised my wife that we would make a lot of money, and that she had nothing to worry about. I LIED!”

Dowd and Eurell ran the most powerful gang in New York’s dangerous 75th Precinct, the crack cocaine capitol of 1980s America. These “ Cocaine Cops” formed a lucrative alliance with Adam Diaz, the kingpin of an ever-expanding Dominican drug cartel. Soon Mike and Ken were buying fancy cars no cop could afford, and treating their wives to levels of luxury not associated with a patrol officer’s salary. They Were Daring, Dangerous and Untouchable Until …Then “ the biggest police scandal in New York history” exploded into the headlines with the arrest of Mike, Ken, and their fellow crooked cops. Released on bail, Mike offered Ken a long shot at escape to Central America—a bizarre plan involving robbery, kidnapping, and murder—forcing Ken to choose between two forms of betrayal. – source

Book Review of Need to Know by Karen Cleveland


I picked up Need To Know as an advanced copy due to being a book reviewer. The description sounded intriguing:

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a dangerous secret that will threaten her job, her family—and her life. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—is threatened.‎ (NetGalley)

I was reading Friend Request by Laura Marshall and was going to start another book right after when I received an email from NetGalley for Need To Know. I read the description and mentioned, I was intrigued and thus requested a copy.


The book opens with the protagonist at a computer at home trying to make a decision if she should turn her husband in or not for being a Russian spy. Trust me this is not a spoiler for the book straightaways tells you who the culprit is and what he’s done.  As I’m ready the preface and already knowing who the suspect is and what he’s done, I knew the rest of the book would take me back to when it all started. When did Vivian find out about her husband? Or was it Vivian that even found out? But once the truth was brought to her how did she make the decision to turn her husband in? But that wasn’t to be.


The entire Chapter 1 focuses on two things: 1. should Vivian tell Matt she knows about him, and 2. her telling Matt she knows. From there we are inside Vivian’s head and it’s annoying as hell.
There was an episode of Black Mirror Season 5, Episode 4 called Black Museum. A traveler stops to recharge the battery in her car. While waiting for the car to charge (3 hours times), she visits the Black Museum. I’m not going to go into details about this episode but say it had episodes within this one episode. One of the episodes had to do with having the person who is dying transplanted into your mind. It’s like having someone in your head all the time. And therein lies the problem..having someone in your head and you can’t get rid of them. This is what Need To Know felt like to me while reading it. I felt like Vivian was in my head. I had to hear her thoughts and feelings, when she was driving, when she was at work, and when she was at home. It was like I couldn’t get her out of my head and it got worse with each passing chapter.


She constantly worried about how this would affect the kids should she turn her husband for being a spy. Which is a valid concern, but the way it was written you wanted to run in the house and tell the kids yourself and let her be done with it. She did have baby twins that were more of a concern for her for she didn’t want to be left having to deal with five kids on her own. She talked about things are easier with Matt around and she shouldn’t turn him in for this reason. This reason one of many.


The book spends time on their first meeting and how they got together and ended up together. They have been together for some time, about 10 years now and Vivian doesn’t want to throw 10 years down the drain. But she also loves Matt and this is the biggest conflict. She learns that her life before marriage with Matt was basically a lie and her marriage to Matt is a lie.  But for Matt, his feelings for Vivian have always been real and continue to be real. He gives her little insight into what was real and what wasn’t. He also gives her a way out by telling her she should turn Matt in.


I know we would know what to do if someone we loved was a spy. I get that. But having to sit with Vivian in front of her computer screen at work wondering what to do with the information she found by using a program called Athena to hack into someone else’s computer to obtain this information and now her work ethics are conflicting with her home, children and husband feelings. She makes a decision that could lead her down a rabbit hole of destruction. Not only for herself but for her family. But Vivian is given an out in the midst of her bad decision.


The book dragged. I skipped a lot of chapters. I couldn’t take Vivian constantly wondering what she should do with different information being presented to her. The book focused more on her life at home and having to deal with Matt’s secret than it did with finding the handlers and sleepers. After the reveal in the preface, I thought the book would focus on her finding out about her husband by way of going back to the beginning of her receiving an assignment to find handlers and sleepers. The book would have definitely read much better for me.

On Goodreads the book received a 4.09 rating. I’m not sure how, unless these are friends of the author or just can’t be honest with a review. Even when I got to certain parts of the book I thought would present something worth biting into, I faced with Vivian’s endless thoughts. Vivian was definitely in my head for way too long that the law allows.  I equate this book to The Shoeless Child as in I didn’t care for it at all, but others may. This dislike is more of a personal taste…sort of.

I have learned this book is being turned into a movie starring Charlize Theron, who is also producing the movie. Need To Know Movie.

My rating on Goodreads: 1 out of 5 stars

Published: 23 January 2018
Ballantine Books (part of Random House Publishing)
General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers (not sure where they got these genres from **rolling eyes immensely**