Book Review: American Sherlock

Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities–beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners, and hundreds upon hundreds of books–sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career. Known as the “American Sherlock Holmes,” Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America’s greatest–and first–forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence, and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.

Heinrich was one of the nation’s first expert witnesses, working in a time when the turmoil of Prohibition led to sensationalized crime reporting and only a small, systematic study of evidence. However with his brilliance, and commanding presence in both the courtroom and at crime scenes, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence. His work, though not without its serious–some would say fatal–flaws, changed the course of American criminal investigation.

Based on years of research and thousands of never-before-published primary source materials, American Sherlock captures the life of the man who pioneered the science our legal system now relies upon–as well as the limits of those techniques and the very human experts who wield them.

 February 11th 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

My thoughts:

Oh, how I adore CSI and all that goes along with it. I read this at an absurdly slow rate (for me). In this book, you get to know Heinrich’s life story and hear about his personal life as he basically invented crime scene investigation as we know it today.

 Heinrich’s methods of handwriting analysis, laboratory testing of trace evidence, blood evidence observation, deductive reasoning, and other techniques that made him a criminal investigator ahead of his time.

 He was also an early adopter of victim profiling, and victimology has taken on an increasingly important role in identifying unknown killers. He used photomicrographs –magnified photos were taken through microscopes — and turned them into comparison shots to be used in court to depict significant differences to juries, a method still used today.

All the science is fascinating, and then the narratives of each crime and trial made this book read like a marathon of Law and Order for me.

All in all, I’d give it 5 stars. (Note that I’m not going to rank in stars this year unless it is a 5 star ranking from me.)

Book Review: Deep State

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Hayley Chill is the female action hero I didn’t know I needed. What a fast read. I mean the political intrigue kept me up way past my bedtime and then just when things were wrapping up at the end there is another big unforeseen twist. So fun to read a female lead character that knows her mind and doesn’t let anything or anyone slow her down.


Hayley Chill is an ex-Army boxing champion who is serving as a White House intern. She discovers the body of her boss, Peter Hall, the president’s Chief of Staff, and a single clue, which suggests he did not die of natural causes. Soon enough, Hayley is on the trail to solving the case herself. She isn’t sure who, if anyone she can trust, and as a reader, I wondered just how far up this conspiracy would go.


As a character, you can’t help liking Hayley. She’s come a long way from her West Virginia upbringing, and dealing with unraveling a conspiracy run by a “shadow government” wouldn’t be easy for anyone.


If you enjoy any of the spy-intrigue books, like the Jack Ryan series or watched Scandal or House of Cards, this book will be an excellent match for you. It looks like there is a sequel in the works, so feel free to get attached to Hayley.


Expected publication: January 7th, 2020 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Book Review: Would Like to Meet

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A funny empowering look at how maybe Rom-Com meets can work in real life? Evie Summers needs to convince her client Ezra to finish writing a Rom Com. He thinks they are dumb and unrealistic. And so, Evie embarks on recreating moments from famous movies to show him that they do work.

It’s so funny that I happily suspended my disbelief at some of the more unbelievable moments. I also adore a holiday British setting. My only complaint was that it was hard to keep her giant cast of friends straight in my own mind. Also, this is the perfect length for an airport read which makes it’s December release all the better.

I can’t wait to see what this debut author comes up with next.

Book Review: WinterWood

WinterWood

Enchanting is not an overstatement as a broad description of the prose in this book. Nora is the latest in a long line of witches that live in Wicker Woods. The connection with the Woods goes so deep they predate the very trees inside the forest. One day Nora runs into Oliver Huntsman in the woods. He went missing from the Camp for Wayward Boys two weeks ago, but here he is freezing in the woods as the most significant snowstorm of the winter season cuts them off from the small town nearby. Oliver should be dead after all that time in the woods alone. Why isn’t he? What happened out there?

The atmosphere in this story is just perfect for a winter read. I mean, all the answers are there at the start, but the reader doesn’t know it until the ending. During the story, you are just immersed in this woodsy winter realm, thinking that you know where the story is leading you. Maybe you get it at the start? Most likely, you’ll be surprised as I was to see it all come together at the end.

I truly felt like I was stranded in a mountain valley in the middle of winter, with an ancient perhaps malicious forest to one side and a bottomless lake to the other. If you like magical YA, this book is terrific. I’d compare it to The Hazelwood– which I also loved. If you want a plot with a slow burn- this is for you. Sidenote: Pretty sure this is the November OwlCrate selection.

November New Releases!

I’m linking to Goodreads for all these new release books. The main descriptions are courtesy of the publishers’. If I read an ARC I added my comments in bold.

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major-league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys’ coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner-hero and win back the trust of his wife.
I loved this light, fun romance.
Winterwood
Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.
Winterwood is a fairy tale reminiscent of stories from long ago. I loved it!

Here are the books that I’m eagerly awaiting and so I copied the publisher blurbs for you:

The Guinevere Deception
There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
The Toll
The publisher was militant about keeping the ending spoiler-free, hence the description itself not saying much at all.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
The Starless Sea
I loved the writing in The Night Circus and so I have high hopes!
The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . .
Call Down The Hawk
The thrilling conclusion to The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black.
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
The Deep
All’s fair in love and anarchy…

The epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s thrilling Renegades Trilogy finds Nova and Adrian struggling to keep their secret identities concealed while the battle rages on between their alter egos, their allies, and their greatest fears come to life. Secrets, lies, and betrayals are revealed as anarchy once again threatens to reclaim Gatlon City.
SuperNova
I just read Renegade so I’ve got to read Arch Enemies before I pick this one up.

Book Review: The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce

Finally, a book for all the teens of a specific size out there. Big ones. An anthology, but more importantly a primer of sorts of how to navigate this fat-phobic world. For too long life as an overweight teen was very don’t ask, don’t tell:

  • Don’t talk about finding stylish clothes, because it’s your fault you aren’t thinner.
  • Don’t eat sweets in front of anyone, because that’s how you gain weight.
  • Don’t accept the body you have. Being thin is the only good size.

Fat or thin, everyone deserves to feel comfortable in the body they own. These essays go a long way towards normalizing what actually already is normal. We have a weird twisted society sometimes. Can you imagine if suddenly it was shameful to have blonde hair? You’d be at the Doctor for a sore throat, and they’d wonder aloud, What are you doing to prevent your hair from getting lighter? When really you just want some antibiotics. This anthology is essential reading for fat teens and the people who love them just the way they are.

My favorite essays included are:

“For the Love of Ursula’s Revenge Body” by Julie Murphy

“Chubby City Indian” by Jana Schmeiding

“How To Be the Star of Your Own Fat Rom-Com” by Lily Anderson

“Elephant, Hippo, and Other Nicknames I Love” by Jes Baker

“Losing My Religion” by Jess Walton

All that said, I’m not sure if I’d hand this book to the lower end of the YA crowd. In many ways, it seems more like Adult non-fiction, although even young teens already know all of what is included with being fat. Maybe I’m just being a protective helicopter Mom, but with my own 14-year-old, I’m marking only specific essays for him to read. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

I have one copy to give away!
Find my review on Twitter and re-tweet it.
I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, September 29, 2019.


ARC Review: The Dark Lord Clementine

You’ll have to wait until October 1, 2019 to get your hand on this one. Go ahead and feel free to pre-order it now.

I knew I’d enjoy this book for 9-13 year old kids from this line on page 2:

Clementine Morcerous knew that if the Dark Lord Elithor had three gifts in this world, they were:

The invention and implementation of magical Dastardly Deeds.

Math

Not Talking About Anything

I was hooked from that point on. It’s a little bit like a Neil Gaiman book mixed with well, a female dark lord written for middle grade readers and me. I loved the opposite theming where Clementine has to grapple with feeling that although she’s always told that she needs to be as evil as possible, that doesn’t seem like the right path for her.

I know lots of kids who will love Clementine! She is dark (of course, as an evil warlord) but also caring. She cares about keeping her Dad in the evil Lord business and does it her own way after learning to ask for help from her new friends.