MINI ARC REVIEW ~ BrodyMonster

BrodyMonster: A perfectionist and the world’s most imperfect terrier

by Liz Maritz

It all started with a bet thrown down by my husband, Jimmy. If I ran thirteen miles, I could bring home our first family dog—any kind of dog I wanted. The perfect dog.

Like every other decision in my life, this required hours of research and planning, complete with a last-minute flight to Chicago in a blizzard. Countless emails to various breeders across the country eventually led me to Brody, a “show-quality” wire-haired fox terrier puppy with champion lineage. But my plans changed as Brody’s bad behavior and multitudinous medical mishaps took us for a wild ride.

BrodyMonster is a candid and heartwarming story that you’ll find at the crossroads of Marley and Me and The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. How living with a “terrible” terrier taught me to embrace life’s imperfections.

My thoughts: I thought the premise for this debut non-fiction book was really cute and couldn’t wait to dig into it. From the playful cover to the heartfelt story, I liked everything about this book. The author really made a huge sacrifice in order to get to have full say in choosing this dog, so you can feel how important it is to her, and how much she wants him. I followed along with where things led, rooting for her and the dog to be a good match.

I felt this book was well-written and well-told, and most any dog enthusiast would enjoy it. I was happy to have gotten the advance electronic review copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Liz Maritz, and the publisher.


Publisher: Liz Maritz, LLC
Publication: Dec 15th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

BOOK PREVIEW ~ Pretty Evil New England

Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs

by Sue Coletta


For four centuries, New England has been a cradle of crime and murder—from the Salem witch trials to the modern-day mafia. Nineteenth century New England was the hunting ground of five female serial killers: Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson.

Female killers are often portrayed as caricatures: Black Widows, Angels of Death, or Femme Fatales. But the real stories of these women are much more complex. In Pretty Evil New England, true crime author Sue Coletta tells the story of these five women, from broken childhoods, to first brushes with death, and she examines the overwhelming urges that propelled these women to take the lives of a combined total of more than one-hundred innocent victims. The murders, investigations, trials, and ultimate verdicts will stun and surprise readers as they live vicariously through the killers and the would-be victims that lived to tell their stories.

My thoughts: This is an awesome true crime book about 5 women in the New England area, all killers. What really surprised me was that I’d never heard of any of them and I’ve been reading about this subject for 45+ years. Author Sue Coletta does a section on each of the women. You get Jane Tappan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson each with their own details, history, and M.O. It’s wonderfully researched and written, and I highly recommend it for true crime readers. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Sue Coletta, and the publisher.

Pretty Evil

Publishers: Rowan & Littlefield – 296 pages
Publication: Nov 1st, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the Author– Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer. For three years running, Feedspot named her Murder Blog as one of the Best 50 Crime Blogs on the Net (Murder Blog sits at #5). Sue also blogs at the Kill Zone, a multi-award-winning writing blog. In addition to blogging, she’s the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science, both groups founded by New York homicide detective and cold case expert, Joe Giacolone. Sue also founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter to help crime writers add realism to fiction. She is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Sue lives in central New Hampshire (Alexandria) and writes two serial killer thriller series published by Tirgearr Publishing.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Cold Case North

Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett

By Michael Nest, Deanna Reder, and Eric Bell

Tells the story of the unsolved murder of indigenous activists, police investigation misconduct, and the community who tracked down the clues which officials failed to uncover.

Missing persons. Double murder? Métis leader James Brady was one of the most famous Indigenous activists in Canada. A communist, strategist, and bibliophile, he led Métis and First Nations to rebel against government and church oppression. Brady’s success made politicians and clergy fear him; he had enemies everywhere. In 1967, while prospecting in Saskatchewan with Cree Band Councillor and fellow activist, Absolom Halkett, both men vanished from their remote lakeside camp. For 50 years rumours swirled of secret mining interests, political intrigue, and murder. Cold Case North is the story of how a small team, with the help of the Indigenous community, exposed police failure in the original investigation, discovered new clues and testimony, and gathered the pieces of the North’s most enduring missing persons puzzle.

My thoughts: These three writers did an amazing job of researching and writing about the pair of well-educated indigenous activists who went missing so suddenly and strangely back in the late 1960s. The two had been dropped off by plane to do some prospecting, and the fairly new pilot accidentally dropped them off in the wrong location, where their maps would be no good. He later realized his mistake and reported it, to no avail. The two men were already missing and being looked for. Was it really an accident? Did they wander off and get lost, or were they injured by a wild animal? Or was it murder. Join this quest looking for the answers. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors, and the publisher.

Publisher: University of Regina Press – 272 pages
Publication: Nov 7th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars

About the Author:
Michael Nest is the award-winning author of three non-fiction books. Corruption, mining and conflict are the theme of the first two. The third, Still a Pygmy, is a collaboration with Congolese activist Isaac Bacirongo, the first Indigenous Pygmy to ever publish his memoir. Michael’s ‘day job’ is preventing corruption in government and in the mining sector. He lives in Montréal.

Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), Associate Professor in the Departments of English and First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University, teaches Indigenous literatures, especially autobiography. Her SSHRC-funded research project, “The People and the Text” makes extensive use of library and archival methods, in collaboration with Indigenous research networks, to uncover forgotten or lost work by Canadian Indigenous authors. She has worked collaboratively to edit four anthologies and is the series editor of the Indigenous Studies Series for Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Eric Bell is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. He has owned and operated La Ronge Emergency Medical Services for 25 years and was a Park Warden for 23 years with Parks Canada. His involvement in this search is personal as he remembers Jim Brady, who was a friend of the family, and Abbie Halkett, a fellow community member. Eric lives in La Ronge, SK.

MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ Flight 7 is Missing

Flight 7 is Missing: The Search For My Father’s Killer
by Ken H. Fortenberry

Dubbed by The New York Times as one of the “most vexing and unexplained” mysteries in aviation history, the crash of Pan American World Airways Flight 7 in November 1957 resulted in 44 deaths and remains officially unsolved to this day. 

But Ken H. Fortenberry, an award-winning journalist whose father was the copilot and navigator aboard the ill-fated plane, has devoted nearly sixty years of his life to unraveling this cold-case mystery, and has come to a staggering conclusion: that the victims of the crash were murdered. 

A remarkably researched book packed with information and emotion, Flight 7 Is Missing: The Search for My Father’s Killer is a gripping page-turner that reads like a fast-paced murder mystery. Join Fortenberry on his crusade as he tirelessly tracks down every possible lead and eventually exposes the person he believes responsible for this tragic crime.

My thoughts: This book took me some contortions to get through, not due to any fault of the book itself. Its just my weird sleep disorder has been a real bear lately. I did a lot of re-reading, forgetting the story, and taking longer and longer breaks from it. This intrepid son was determined to find an answer to what happened, if it took until his last breath. You have to admire that kind of dedication to his love for his father. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ken Fortenberry, and the publisher.

Publisher: Fayetteville Mafia Press – 361 pages
Publication: May 19th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author– A nationally recognized journalist and author, Ken H. Fortenberry spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business and personally earned more than 200 state, regional and national awards for excellence in journalism before his retirement in 2014. His directed newspaper coverage of child molesters teaching in public schools won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, the Society of Professional Journalists’ (Sigma Delta Chi) Bronze Medallion for Public Service, and the national Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) award for investigative reporting. In 1987 millions of Americans were introduced to his work when he was featured on the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” the NBC “Today” show and profiled in the New York Times for his courageous reporting of corruption in a South Carolina sheriff’s office that resulted in explosions being set off at his home. He later wrote about his experiences in the critically acclaimed non-fiction book Kill the Messenger, published by Peachtree Publishers, and optioned several times for a TV movie. A Miami native now living in the mountains of North Carolina, he is the coauthor of two investigative stories about the crash of Pan American Flight 7 in the Air and Space Magazine, and is the father of five and the grandfather of eight.

BOOK REVIEW (ARC) ~ The Killer’s Shadow

The Killer’s Shadow: The FBI’s Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer (Files of the FBI’s Original Mindhunter Book 1)

By John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

The legendary FBI criminal profiler and international bestselling author of Mindhunter and The Killer Across the Table returns with this timely, relevant book that goes to the heart of extremism and domestic terrorism, examining in-depth his chilling pursuit of, and eventual prison confrontation with Joseph Paul Franklin, a White Nationalist serial killer and one of the most disturbing psychopaths he has ever encountered.

Worshippers stream out of an Midwestern synagogue after sabbath services, unaware that only a hundred yards away, an expert marksman and  avowed racist, antisemite and member of the Ku Klux Klan, patiently awaits, his hunting rifle at the ready. 

The October 8, 1977 shooting was a forerunner to the tragedies and divisiveness that plague us today. John Douglas, the FBI’s pioneering, first full-time criminal profiler, hunted the shooter—a white supremacist named Joseph Paul Franklin, whose Nazi-inspired beliefs propelled a three-year reign of terror across the United States, targeting African Americans, Jews, and interracial couples. In addition, Franklin bombed the home of Jewish leader Morris Amitay, shot and paralyzed Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, and seriously wounded civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. The fugitive supported his murderous spree robbing banks in five states, from Georgia to Ohio.

 Douglas and his writing partner Mark Olshaker return to this disturbing case that reached the highest levels of the Bureau, which was fearful Franklin would become a presidential assassin—and haunted him for years to come as the threat of copycat domestic terrorist killers increasingly became a reality. Detailing the dogged pursuit of Franklin that employed profiling, psychology and meticulous detective work, Douglas and Olshaker relate how the case was a make-or-break test for the still-experimental behavioral science unit and revealed a new type of, determined, mission-driven serial killer whose only motivation was hate.

A riveting, cautionary tale rooted in history that continues to echo today, The Killer’s Shadow is a terrifying and essential exploration of the criminal personality  in the vile grip of extremism and what happens when rage-filled speech evolves into deadly action and hatred of the “other” is allowed full reign.

My thoughts: If you like books about criminal profilers from the FBI, and the seriously twisted killers they are after, this book fits the bill. Back in the mid 1970s, profiling was just beginning to get a start, with it getting a chance to be used outside the FBI by other agencies. This case would help to highlight its effectiveness and bring it more into use, if all went well as John Douglas took off to try and help catch the guy who’d been shooting people at random all over the country. His name was Joseph Paul Franklin, but he also used many false names as well.

Profiler Douglas had been requested to assist police as things got bad, with Franklin randomly killing minority folks and mixed couples, showing his hatred for non-whites. He would even go after prominent white people, if he felt his reasons were good enough like when he wrote his letter to President Carter. He also wanted to show how he felt about Jewish people as well, so he began targeting them too. Franklin grew up with a lot of mistreatment and he wanted to let out his anger and rage when he felt like it. Abusing his wives wasn’t enough. He had this “mission” that he had come up with to kill as many of his targeted types of people as he could, and he was going to follow it through. Franklin became fairly proficient at robbing banks to keep himself going while he was on his mission. I found it to be an excellent look at a not too well known killer who was active in the 70s for 3 years. The case helped bring profiling into the mainstream as it helped them narrow down who to look at more, and who could be ruled out. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors John Douglas & Mark Olshaker, and the publisher.

Publisher: Dey Street Books – 304 pages
Published: Nov 17th, 2020
My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the Author
John Douglas, the legendary FBI criminal profiler and veteran author of true crime books, has spent over twenty-five years researching and culling the stories of America’s most disturbing criminals. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he has directly worked and/or had overall supervision in over 5,000 violent crime cases over the past 48 years. He is currently chairman of the board of the “Cold Case Foundation.” One of the foremost experts and investigators of criminal minds and motivations, he currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

Mark Olshaker is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and author of ten nonfiction books and five novels, including Einstein’s Brain and The Edge. His books with former FBI Special Agent and criminal profiling pioneer John Douglas, beginning with Mindhunter and, most recently, Law & Disorder, have sold millions of copies and have been translated into many languages. Mindhunter is now a dramatic series on Netflix, directed by David Fincher. He and his wife Carolyn, an attorney, live in Washington, D.C.

BOOK REVIEW (ARC) ~ Juror Number 2

Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood

By Efrem Sigel


This riveting memoir recounts the author’s experience on a jury in a murder trial and his subsequent investigation of the conditions in East Harlem that led young people to be involved in drug-selling and criminal activity. Besides the trial itself, the book is the story of the failures in NYCHA housing projects, the schools and the criminal justice system, and the efforts of a handful of educators, nonprofit leaders and criminal justice reformers to find pathways to success for these young people.

In the author’s words, “As a juror in a criminal trial, your vote is one of 12 determining whether the accused goes free or is punished. When the charge is murder, you never forget that a decision to convict can take away his liberty for the rest of his life. I had thought that our jury’s vote at the conclusion of the trial would be the end of the story. But I was mistaken. For me the jury verdict was only the beginning.”

My thoughts: This book was easy to get into, as I like books about court trials most of the time anyway, and I enjoyed the author’s perspective on this case and the different people involved in it. You could tell that he was way more involved in it than most people, although going through that would affect anyone, really. I took a class on courts as an older teen that required us to go to a nearby courthouse where we sat in on part of a murder trial, and I found it fascinating. It’s stuck with me ever since.

The author, Efrem Sigel, cannot leave the trial behind him afterward. He embarks on a mission to learn about the places and systems involved in the case and starts frequenting them to see what he can learn about how they prepare children or don’t. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Efrem Sigel, and the publisher.

Publisher: IBPA Members’ Titles – 146 pages
Publication: Nov 16th, 2020
My rating: 3/5 STARS

About the Author– Sigel is the author of two published novels and more than 30 published short stories and memoirs. Of his most recent novel, The Disappearance, Booklist said: The story takes place over the course of about a year and it is gripping, emotional, and tender. Sigel is clearly a talented storyteller, and the novel has a deep emotional core that will resonate with any reader. Publishers Weekly called The Disappearance powerful and elegantly crafted. People Magazine gave it 3 and a half stars. Sigel is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School; was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ivory Coast, and started and ran two business information companies. He lives in New York, where he helps direct pro bono consulting projects to nonprofits in the field of education, through the Harvard Business School Club of NY. He is on the board of Futures and Options, a nonprofit devoted to career development and education for urban youth.


100 Ways to Be Kind: Everyday actions to change your life and save the world

by Theresa Cheung


Acts of everyday kindness can boost your mood and immunity, lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, slow the ageing process, improve the quality of your relationships (including the one you have with yourself) and give you a sense of deep meaning and purpose.

100 Ways to be Kind is a road map of practical, simple and immediately actionable ways to be kind including how to be kinder to yourself, to others and to nature.

Theresa debunks the damaging myth that being kind is a weakness and shows that it is not anger or aggression that brings out our true inner grit, but kindness.

Science has proven that there are powerful, potentially lifesaving reasons to be kind. The kinder you are, the more likely you are to experience happiness

Kindness is the simple and scientifically proven remedy that everyone needs to administer right now. So, if you want to harness the power of kindness to transform your life and help save the world at the same time but aren’t quite sure how – this book is for you.

My thoughts: This isn’t the usual sort of non-fiction that I read. My tastes run more to true crime and WWII, but this book called to me, as it seemed so timely. There is quite a lot more to it than I had supposed when I first looked at it, and I was surprised at the well-researched aspects. We’ve surely had enough of it’s opposite in the news and in the world, tossed around freely. It couldn’t hurt for more of us to try some of this in our daily lives. I found it an interesting read, good ideas with so much thought behind them. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Theresa Cheung, and the publisher.

Publisher: Thread Books – 220 pages
Publication: Sep 11th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author– Theresa Cheung is a Sunday Times bestselling paranormal and spiritual author. Since leaving King’s college, Cambridge University with a degree in English and Theology she has written numerous bestselling books and encyclopaedias which have been translated into dozens of different languages. She runs a popular author page on Facebook, has appeared on ITV Good morning to discuss spirituality with Piers Morgan, been a guest on episode 71 of Russell Brand’s Under the Skin podcast, written many features for the National press and been a guest on many podcasts. Her mission is to make spirituality more credible, engaging and mainstream.

BOOK REVIEW (ARC) ~ Father-ish

Father-ish: Laugh-Out-Loud Tales From a Dad Trying Not to Ruin His Kids’ Lives

Father·ish:  adjective. When a man is trying his best .

Clint Edwards equates fatherhood to the time he did an important live TV interview from home: To the viewers, he looked put-together in a nice button-up shirt . . . but below the camera he wasn’t wearing any pants. And it may have looked like he was in a nice office, but he was in fact hidden in his bedroom closet because his whole house was too messy to show.

This highly relatable collection gets to the heart of parenting: all those unexpected fails, awkward conversations, and well-intentioned little white lies. Clint chronicles all these things and more with stories like “The Time My Son Realized I Was Santa,” “I’ve Never Been to Hell, but I Have Been to a Little Girl’s Birthday Party,” and “How to Get the Sex Talk Very, Very Wrong.” And with each story you’ll see over and over again that there really aren’t any rules when it comes to parenting, and all you can do is try your best

Whether you’re a first-time parent unaware of what you’ve gotten yourself into yet, or a father of five, clinging to your last ounce of sanity, you’ll find relief in knowing that at end of the day, we’re all not wearing any pants.

My thoughts: This is my first exposure to this author’s work in Father-ish, a book made of stories of being a male parent. Edwards writes about it in a wry, humorous way that many can relate to. The stories are all along those lines, about situations between him and his family, how he manages and deals with fatherhood, and how oftentimes, those very things leave him wondering how he’s doing as a dad.

There are many personal scenarios pulled from his personal life with his wife and kids, and he has a great way of expressing them in ways that are funny. I caught myself laughing out loud more than I expected. If you like this type of humor and topic, you should check out his writing here, and also his blog. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Clint Edwards, and the publisher.

Publisher: Page Street Publishing – 272 pages
Publication: Oct 2nd, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the Author– Clint Edwards is the creator of the daddy blog No Idea What I’m Doing. He is a staff writer for Scary Mommy and a parenting contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post. He has been featured on Good Morning America, the Today show and The View. He lives in Oregon with his wife and three children.


Manhunt: Hunting Britain’s Most Wanted Murderer by Peter Bleksley

In the early hours of 19 June 2004, 16-year-old Liam Kelly was lured to a location in Liverpool and shot dead. The following year, another Liverpudlian, 22-year-old mother of three, Lucy Hargreaves, was shot dead in her own home. Her partner and their 2-year-old daughter escaped after the house was set alight by leaping from a first-floor bedroom window .

For more than fifteen years, six-foot six-inch, broadly built, ginger-haired Kevin Parle has been wanted by the police for both murders. How could he have evaded national and international crime investigators for so long? Who is harbouring him?

Author and former Scotland Yard detective and undercover cop, Peter Bleksley, is determined to find the answers. He has immersed himself again in the world of serious and organised crime, this time armed only with a pen, a notebook and a mobile phone. He has vowed not to rest until Parle is found.

This gripping story goes behind the scenes of the hit BBC Sounds podcast, “Manhunt: Finding Kevin Parle”.

My thoughts: I found this to be a good true crime book and I was just in the mood for one. It would normally have been a quick read for me, but I’ve not been getting much sleep at all, and found myself reading parts over a lot. The puppy’s barking doesn’t help much either at times, as he’s looking out the window. But it’s a good story, following the based in Britain author as he hunts around the world for a double murderer. No longer as a cop but as a journalist, he’s squeezing his sources to try and get any line on this long-running fugitive/ killer. For true crime fans who enjoy British fugitive stories. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Peter Bleksley, and publisher Ad Lib.

Publisher: Ad Lib Publishers – 218 pages
Publication: Sep 3rd, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the Author-  Peter Bleksley joined the Metropolitan Police in 1978. While serving as a detective at Kensington and Chelsea, he began to develop a skill for undercover work and went on to become a founding member of SO10, Scotland Yard's most secretive undercover squad. Since leaving the Police Force he has become a renowned policing and crime expert and written a memoir, The Gangbuster, as well as scripts for radio and television. He has also acted as a consultant on numerous television dramas and documentaries. He can now be seen on television as The Chief on Channel 4's Hunted.


Nazi Wives: The Women at the Top of Hitler’s Germany

Nazi Wives is a fascinating look at the personal lives, psychological profiles, and marriages of the wives of officers in Hitler’s inner circle .

Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann—names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse and Gerda.. .

These are the women behind the infamous men—complex individuals with distinctive personalities who were captivated by Hitler and whose everyday lives were governed by Nazi ideology. Throughout the rise and fall of Nazism these women loved and lost, raised families and quarreled with their husbands and each other, all the while jostling for position with the Fuhrer himself. Until now, they have been treated as minor characters, their significance ignored, as if they were unaware of their husbands’ murderous acts, despite the evidence that was all around them: the stolen art on their walls, the slave labor in their homes, and the produce grown in concentration camps on their tables.

James Wyllie’s Nazi Wives explores these women in detail for the first time, skillfully interweaving their stories through years of struggle, power, decline and destruction into the post-war twilight of denial and delusion.

My thoughts: I was glad to see that someone had done a book on the female main players around Hitler, instead of acting as if they didn’t exist. So I was happy to get a chance to read this ARC on the subject. I’ve read about different things involving World War II from many aspects, and this would be a new one to add. If you like books about this era, and would like one that’s a bit different, you may want to give this one a look over. It could end up on your TBR list.

There was a bit more intrigue than I would have imagined between the women, but they were very different and had different agendas at times too. And of course there was a lot going on at that time. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Wyllie, and publisher St. Martin’s Press.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – 288 pages
Publication: Nov 3rd, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the Author– James Wyllie is an author, award-winning screenwriter and broadcaster. He is the author of GOERING AND GOERING, THE TIME TRAVELER’S HANDBOOK, and CODEBREAKERS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE TEAM THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR. He has worked on numerous films for the BBC and Film4 and has written for a number of TV drama series.