Book Review ~ Coming Clean

Coming Clean: A true story of love, addiction and recovery

by Liz Fraser

Synopsis: In this wrenching debut memoir of love, family, and addiction, Liz Fraser tells her story of watching a partner unravel from alcoholism and working to rebuild a life together.

“My name is Liz, and I am the partner of an alcoholic.”

This is the story of two people in love, who packed up their lives and drove a thousand miles across Europe in a transit van to the magical island of Venice, to start their new lives and dreams together and raise their baby girl there. They left behind everything they didn’t need. But they also brought something terrible with them: alcoholism.

In the summer of 2019, Liz Fraser watched her husband fall into a catastrophic vortex of depression, alcoholism and self-destruction, which, unbeknownst to her, had been slowly bubbling and building for years. She was suddenly left alone with their baby, in a foreign country, renovating a house, and paying all the family bills along with his enormous drink-related costs. She worked when she could with no childcare or support, all while slowly losing her mind from shock, exhaustion, and heartbreak.

It was a long and lonely time before she met others who live, or have lived, with alcoholism or other substance abuse, whether a spouse, a partner, a child or friend, and found enormous relief in talking about it with people who could understand. In Coming Clean, Liz tells her story–of life with an alcoholic at his darkest moments, and the uncertain journey through recovery as her husband nears six months of sobriety. With this raw, wrenching memoir, she gives a voice and offers hope to everyone watching a loved one struggle with substance abuse with the crucial reminder: you are not alone.

My thoughts: I liked this book and empathized with the author. It tells the story of her meeting and falling in love with Mike who enjoys drinking. Liz is totally unaware about alcoholism, having never been around it or learned anything about what is involved. They have a daughter together and Liz sees Mike struggling with jobs, depression and anxiety. His drinking gets out of hand more and more, so they decide to move from the UK to Venice, Italy for a new start. At first Mike does great, but after a while he starts a major slide downward and Liz finds herself lonely and stressed by events. A fascinating memoir showing what addiction to alcohol is like to live with in a partner. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Liz Fraser, and the publisher.

Coming Clean

Publisher: Green Tree – 211 pages

Publication: Nov 30th, 2021

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Liz Fraser is a writer and broadcaster on all aspects of modern family life. The author of five books, she has written for the Sunday TimesThe Telegraph, The GuardianGraziaGlamourMarie ClaireRed and Runner’s World among others and appears frequently on TV and radio. She has a psychology degree from Cambridge University and speaks openly about her struggles with various mental health issues. Liz has four children spanning twenty years, and lives in Oxford.

Book Review ~ True Crime Philadelphia

True Crime Philadelphia: From America’s First Bank Robbery to the Real-Life Killers Who Inspired Boardwalk Empire

by Kathryn Canavan


Serial killer H.H. Holmes built his murder castle in Chicago, but he met the hangman in Philadelphia. Al Capone served his first prison sentence here. The real-life killers who inspired HBO’s Boardwalk Empire lived and died here.

America’s first bank robbery was pulled off here in 1798. The country’s first kidnapping for ransom came off without a hitch in 1874. A South Philadelphia man hatched the largest mass murder plot in U.S. history in the 1930s. His partners in crime were unhappy housewives.

Catholics and Protestants aimed cannon at each other in city streets in 1844. Civil rights hero Octavius V. Catto was gunned down on South Street in 1871.

Take a walk with us through city history. Would you pass Eastern State Penitentiary on April 3, 1945, just as famed bank robber Willie Sutton popped out of an escape tunnel in broad daylight? Or you might have been one of the invited guests at H.H. Holmes’ hanging at Moyamensing Prison on a gray morning in May 1896. It still ranks as one of the most bizarre executions in city history. Or, if you walked down Washington Lane on July 1, 1874, would you have been alert enough to stop the two men who lured little blond Charley Ross away with candy? You might have stopped America’s first kidnapping for ransom, the one that gave rise to the admonition, “Never take candy from a stranger.” The case inspired the Leopold and Loeb kidnapping.

Then there was the bank robber whose funeral drew thousands of spectators and the burglary defendant so alluring that conversation would stop whenever she entered the courtroom.

Mix in murderous maids, bumbling burglars, and unflinching local heroes and you have True Crime Philadelphia.

My thoughts: This is a neat group of crime stories from Philadelphia. There are several firsts that came out of the town that are pretty impressive. Many are stories I haven’t heard of, which I like. There’s even some things about the H.H. Holmes story that were new to me. Interesting true crime read. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Kathryn Canavan, and the publisher.

True Crime Philadelphia

Publisher: Lyons Press – 252 pages

Publication: Nov 15th, 2021

My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: Kathryn Canavan began her career as a crime reporter. To get a story, she has reported at gunpoint, lived with the Moonies, negotiated with a killer and joined Tug McGraw in the Phillies dugout.

She eventually worked as reporter or editor in four states. Her freelance writing has been published in USA Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer, History News Network, and Prevention magazine.

She was named a National Health Journalism Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism in 2011. Her fellowship project, “No Child Allowed Outside,” chronicled the health effects of gun violence on young children.

She is a 2017 Individual Artist Fellow of Delaware Division of the Arts, awarded the Established Professional Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Book Review ~ ‘Til Death Do Us …

Death Do Us…: A True Crime Story of Bigamy and Murder

by Patrick Gallagher


The riveting true story of serial wife and husband killer Gladys Lincoln, written by the grandson of her lead defense attorney.
Includes love letters from the victim to the defendant hidden over seventy years!
In August 1945, Gladys Lincoln of Sacramento contacted prosperous Dr. W. D. Broadhurst of Caldwell, Idaho, and rekindled a romance from twenty years earlier. After many passionate letter exchanges and several sexually-charged meetings, they were married in Reno, Nevada on May 20, 1946. After a passion-filled three-day weekend together, the doctor returned to his home in Idaho, and Gladys returned to Sacramento . . . and to her husband, Leslie Lincoln! But Gladys was much more than a bigamist.
Gladys needed something even she didn’t understand. She married her first husband when she was twenty, and her second husband only fourteen months later. The second marriage lasted only two years, the third less than sixteen months. Leslie Lincoln was her fifth, and Dr. Broadhurst became her sixth. But what desperate need drove her to go from marriage to marriage?
And what dark mindset moved her and her young cowboy chauffeur to commit murder? Find out in ’Til Death Do Us . . . the gripping true crime from WildBlue Press author Patrick Gallagher, whose grandfather was Gladys’ lead defense attorney during her sensational trial.

My thoughts: I like the family connection of the author to the lead defense lawyer during Gladys’ trial. This is about a cunning woman who gets married over and over to different men that she feels she conquers. Once that is done, she moves on to the next conquest. She begins writing to an old flame who is a doctor, and he is over the moon to hear from her again. She eventually marries him, making him her 6th husband. But she is still married to her 5th husband, making for complications. She shows her true colors when she becomes a black widow. It’s fascinating true crime, decently written. I stayed up all night reading it.

‘Til Death Do Us…

Publisher: WildBlue Press – 242 pages

Publication: June 16th, 2020

My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: Many have set about in life to tell stories that amaze others. Patrick Gallagher had no such ambition. However, some stories grip us by the collar and demand they be told to the world, and this is what Patrick has been challenged to do. He has been a jack of all trades, master of one, the one being a U.S. Customs Broker and logistics specialist. But over a course of a lifetime Patrick has worked as a farm laborer, forest fire fighter, process server, retail store manager, preacher, warehouseman and dishwasher. However, founding and managing a business in international logistics was the career he loved. Now retired, Patrick and his wife enjoy their four children and twelve grandchildren, and their home at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado.

Book Review ~ Snake Eyes

Snake eyes: Murder in a Southern Town

by Bitty Martin


By 1966, Hot Springs, Arkansas wasn’t your typical sleepy little Southern town. Once a favorite destination for mobsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, illegal activities continued to lure out-of-state gamblers, flim-flam men, and high rollers to its racetracks, clubs, and bordellos. Still, the town was shaken to its core after a girl was found dead on a nearby ranch. The ranch owner claimed it was an accident. Then the rancher was found to be the killer of another woman – his fourth wife.

The story begins when 13-year-old Cathie Ward was found dead after horseback riding at Blacksnake Ranch on the outskirts of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Frank Davis, the owner of the ranch, tells authorities Cathie’s death is an accident. He claims her foot caught in a stirrup and she was dragged to her death despite his pursuit of the runaway horse. People who know the 42-year-old skilled horseman don’t believe his story, and soon rumors of her rape and murder begin swirling around town.

The rumors reach a crescendo after Davis viciously guns down his fourth wife and mother-in-law in broad daylight outside of a laundromat. Davis is arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Soon after, Hot Springs authorities re-open the investigation into Cathie Ward’s death.

Snake Eyes is the first book to examine this decades-old murder and cover-up, and the only in-depth account of the man who would become the town’s most notorious villain. Featuring personal interviews, crime scene records, court documents, and Davis’ own prison files, author and lifelong Hot Springs resident Bitty Martin reveals the true story for the first time.

My thoughts: This was a compelling book about a killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas back in the mid 1960s named Frank Davis. He was an abusive man to women and animals alike, and was married four times because of it. When his fourth wife Sharron left him and took the 2 children, Davis became incensed that he couldn’t talk her into returning to him. He stalked and threatened her, and finally found his chance to attack her when he shot her and her mother behind the Redbird gas station and laundry mat. Sharron was only 22 when he killed her. Davis was also strongly suspected of having killed a 13 year old girl at his ranch prior to killing his wife. Her name was Cathie Ward, and he blamed it on a riding accident. Fascinating true crime written by an author who knew those involved. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Bitty Martin, and the publisher.

Snake Eyes

Publisher: Prometheus – 216 pages

Publication: Mar 1st, 2022

My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: Bitty Martin earned two college degrees, one in marketing from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and the other in nursing from the University of Arkansas Little Rock. She has worked in research, executive leadership, financial marketing and advertising in Hot Springs and was a member of the Little Rock, Arkansas, media community in print and TV sales with the Arkansas Times magazine, KATV – Channel 7/ABC affiliate and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette statewide newspaper.

Returning to school to earn a nursing degree, Bitty became a registered nurse and has worked across America as a traveling operating room nurse for the past two decades. She is the founder of a private national nursing network for highly specialized rapid response nurses and is nationally known among America’s 3.8 million nurses and nationwide staffing companies.

Bitty currently lives in her hometown, Hot Springs, and is a board member of the Garland County Historical Society, where she uses her love for Hot Springs historical research along with her media and sales background to benefit the community organization. For more information:

Book Review – The “Supreme Gentleman” Killer

The “Supreme Gentleman” Killer: The True Story of an Incel Mass Murderer

by Brian Whitney

This is the story of Elliot Rodger, and how he turned from a nice, quiet polite young man to the first self-identified incel (involuntarily celibate) killer.
Elliot Rodger considered himself to be intelligent, refined, handsome, fashionable and charming. He spent years trying to be cool so women would like him. He thought if he just wore expensive and fashionable clothing, had a better car, or if he were rich, then women would throw themselves at him. In fact, he thought himself to be “The Supreme Gentleman.”

Yet, women paid no attention to him. His only conclusion was that they were genetically flawed, and because of this they ignored him and threw themselves at men who were ignorant, savage brutes. In his mind, his lack of success with women had ruined his life. He began to psychologically deteriorate. “`

Rodger decided to get revenge. He spent months planning his “Day of Retribution,” an act where he would kill as many attractive women, and the type of men that they were drawn to, as he could in a savage attack. Then he acted on his plan, killing 6 people and wounding numerous others in what became known as the Isla Vista Massacre. The story does not end with Rodger however, as numerous other incels have since committed copycat attacks.

My thoughts: What a seriously frightening story this is. Elliot Rodger, was a 22 year old man who suffered from mental illness from the age of 8. He fancied himself the supreme gentleman compared to others he felt beneath him. His thinking becomes so disordered while he’s in college in Santa Barbara that he begins plotting his revenge for months. This is my first encounter with the term “incel” or involuntarily celibate. Rodger gets retribution by killing 6 people and wounding 14 others by shooting, stabbing and ramming with his vehicle. The book posits that there have been other incel shooters following in his footsteps since his spree.

The “Supreme Gentleman” Killer

Publisher: WildBlue Press – 172 pages
Publication: March 17th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: Brian Whitney has been a prisoner advocate, a landscaper, and a homeless outreach worker. His interests include ruminating and perseverating. He has written or co-authored numerous books, and has been featured in Newsweek, Esquire, Inside Edition, Dr. Phil, Fox News,,, True Murder, and True Crime Garage. He has written for Alternet, Pacific Standard Magazine, Paste Magazine, and many other places. He appeared at CrimeCon in 2019.

Book Review ~ I Was a Stripper Librarian

I Was a Stripper Librarian: From Cardigans to G-strings

by Kristy Cooper

No one at the library she worked at knew about Kristy Cooper’s other job.

On the surface, it seemed that being a librarian and a stripper are polar opposite jobs, but in practice Kristy found that they were not nearly as different as most people would think. Strip club customers and library patrons both produce wild stories, and you have to be good at working with people in both professions (whether your clothes are off or not).

In this first-hand account, Kristy describes her decision to get into stripping to make her student loan debt more manageable, overcome her introversion to learn how to hustle customers, learn about sex worker advocacy, and finally transition into full-time library work. For years Kristy hid her stripping history to fit into the mold of a respectable librarian, but as time went on, she realized this wasn’t something she should feel ashamed about. Telling these kinds of stories helps destigmatize sex work, which makes it safer for current sex workers.

Librarianship is changing, especially as the profession begins to evaluate itself through a greater anti-oppression lens. Through her unique experiences, Kristy learned that librarians can gain a lot of insight about class struggle and privacy advocacy from sex workers.

My thoughts: I found this to be a good read. It is surprising at times and funny as the author describes trying to get her nerve up to audition for a strip club for the first times. It’s an interesting inside look at the world of stripping and how she learned the ropes. She researched quite a few things online before choosing which club would be the best to start out at. Kristy also found things like lists of what the strippers put in their bags to go to work, which helped her figure out what to take. She said other strippers were pretty helpful with information online at different sites for them, but at the club in person, it was a different story. This is a very good pick if you have any interest in checking out what its like to work in gentleman’s clubs, and what it takes. So get out your stripper shoes and read along.

I Was a Stripper Librarian

Publisher: Olivier – 270 pages
Publication: July 27th, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: Kristy Cooper is a librarian single mom in Michigan. In her spare time, she fights politicians for libraries and will eventually get around to finishing writing her YA series.

Stay up to date with her books at ​

Book Review ~ The Hard Sell

The Hard Sell: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup

by Evan Hughes

The inside story of a band of entrepreneurial upstarts who made millions selling painkillers—until their scheme unraveled, putting them at the center of a landmark criminal trial.

John Kapoor had already amassed a small fortune in pharmaceuticals when he founded Insys Therapeutics. It was the early 2000s, a boom time for painkillers, and he developed a novel formulation of fentanyl, the most potent opioid on the market.
Kapoor, a brilliant immigrant scientist with relentless business instincts, was delighted by his innovation and eager to make the most of it. He gathered around him an ambitious group of young lieutenants looking to share in his success. His hungry head of sales—an unstable and unmanageable leader, but a genius of persuasion—built a team willing to pull every lever to close a sale, going so far as to recruit an exotic dancer ready to scrape her way up. They zeroed in on the eccentric and suspect doctors receptive to their methods. Employees at headquarters did their part by deceiving insurance companies. The drug was a niche product, approved only for cancer patients in dire condition, but the company’s leadership pushed it more widely, and together they turned Insys into a Wall Street sensation.
But several insiders reached their breaking point and blew the whistle. They sparked a sprawling investigation that would scale the corporate hierarchy and lead to a dramatic courtroom battle, breaking new ground in the government’s fight to hold the drug industry accountable in the spread of addictive opioids.
In The Hard Sell, National Magazine Award–finalist Evan Hughes lays bare the pharma playbook. He draws on unprecedented access to insiders of the Insys saga, from top executives to foot soldiers, from the patients and staff of far-flung clinics to the Boston investigators who treated the case as a drug-trafficking conspiracy, flipping cooperators and closing in on the key players.
With colorful characters and true suspense, The Hard Sell pries open a window onto the pharmaceutical industry at large. Hughes offers a bracing look not just at Insys, but at how opioids are sold at the point they first enter the national bloodstream—in the doctor’s office.

My thoughts: This is a well written and fascinating look at the world of Insys, a pharmaceutical company. It was formed by eccentric immigrant John Kapoor, who became a millionaire looking to get even richer. He developed a new form of fentanyl delivery called Subsys, and hired a bunch of shady people to push it to some iffy doctors. They found ways to target doctors that wrote a lot of opioids and went about trying to get them to switch to their new drug. The book shows things that went on that were pretty shocking in how Kapoor had things done. Insys, with its drug Subsys joined Purdue Pharma and Cephalon, who both were in trouble over OxyContin and Actiq respectively. Purdue paid $600 million in 2007 to resolve charges, and Cephalon in 2008 paid a $425 million dollar fine over wrongdoing. It’s also about the US Department of Justice investigators from Boston who went after Insys and its executives. An incredible true crime story that shows what some people will try to get away with, given half a chance. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Evan Hughes, and the publisher.

The Hard Sell

Publisher: Doubleday – 288 pages
Publication: Jan 18th, 2022
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: EVAN HUGHES was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Reporting in 2015. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, New York, Wired, and The New York Review of Books. He is the author of Literary Brooklyn.

Book Review ~ The Wheels of Justice

Wheels of Justice: The True Story Of A 27-Year Battle To Convict My Sister’s Killer

by Renee Fehr & Brian Whitney

“The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”

Renee Fehr knew that Gregory Houser killed her sister Sheryl. There was not a single doubt in her mind. Yet for 27 years Houser walked free.

But Renee wouldn’t rest until he was convicted for murder.
THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE is equal parts the story of a monstrous killer, a harrowing look at domestic violence, and an inspirational story of a family that wouldn’t quit until justice prevailed.

My thoughts: I found this book to be a real page turner. It’s written by the lawyer sister of the victim, Sheryl Houser. It gives gripping detail on what Sheryl went through during her marriage, which only got worse when she wanted out. Her husband Greg evaded justice for nearly 30 years, but Renee Fehr never gave up on getting him convicted no matter how long it took. A gut wrenching true crime story about a family who suffered greatly for so many years. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Renee Fehr & Brian Whitney, and the publisher.

The Wheels of Justice

Publisher: WildBlue Press – 160 pages
Publication: Sep 7th, 2021
My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Brian Whitney has been a prisoner advocate, a landscaper, and a homeless outreach worker. His interests include ruminating and perseverating. He has written or co-authored numerous books, and has been featured in Newsweek, Esquire, Inside Edition, Dr. Phil, Fox News,,, True Murder, and True Crime Garage. He has written for Alternet, Pacific Standard Magazine, Paste Magazine, and many other places. He appeared at CrimeCon in 2019.

He likes to get things crackin’.

You can email Brian at, or check out his website.


Taking Down BackPage: Fighting the World’s Largest Sex Trafficker

By Maggy Krell

Insider details from the takedown of Backpage, the world’s largest sex trafficker, by the prosecutor who led the charge.

For almost a decade, was the world’s largest sex trafficking operation. Seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, in 800 cities throughout the world, Backpage ran thousands of listings advertising the sale of vulnerable young people for sex. Reaping a cut off every transaction, the owners of the website raked in millions of dollars. But many of the people in the advertisements were children, as young as 12, and forced into the commercial sex trade through fear, violence and coercion.

In Taking Down Backpage, veteran California prosecutor Maggy Krell tells the story of how she and her team prevailed against this sex trafficking monolith. Beginning with her early career as a young DA, she shares the evolution of the anti-human trafficking movement. Through a fascinating combination of memoir and legal insight, Krell reveals how she and her team started with the prosecution of street pimps and ultimately ended with the takedown of the largest purveyor of human trafficking in the world. She shares powerful stories of interviews with victims, sting operations, court cases, and the personal struggles that were necessary to bring Backpage executives to justice. Finally, Krell examines the state of sex trafficking after Backpage and the crucial work that still remains.

Taking Down Backpage is a gripping story of tragedy, overcoming adversity, and the pursuit of justice that gives insight into the fight against sex trafficking in the digital age.

My thoughts: I really liked this one, it’s an amazing story of a prosecutor who is a major advocate for victims of the sex trafficking trade. She decides to go after Backpage because of the ads they ran that became so commonplace for sexual encounters that contributed to the trafficking. She also knew that they were making a ton of money from it, and their normal ads were just window dressing, not real. It took a couple of years to identify the main people that owned and ran the Backpage site. She built one heck of a case against them, and I found it very inspiring. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Maggy Krell, and the publisher.


Publisher: NYU Press – 192 pages
Publication: Jan 11th, 2022
My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author– Maggy Krell is an award-winning impact lawyer and currently serves as Chief Legal Counsel at Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. Maggy started her career as a prosecutor, serving as a deputy district attorney before moving up the ranks at the Attorney General’s Office, most recently as the Supervising Deputy Attorney General of the Special Prosecutions Unit. Maggy secured convictions throughout California in high-profile cases including murder, human trafficking, domestic violence, white collar crime, and mortgage fraud. Maggy’s most notable accomplishments stem from her tireless efforts to combat human trafficking and protect and empower victims. 

Book Review ~ Hollywood Horrors

Hollywood Horrors: Murders, Scandals, and Cover-Ups from Tinseltown

by Andrea Van Landingham

The name “Hollywood” conjures up fantastical images of bright lights, glamorous dreams, and impossible riches. From its humble beginnings as a ranch sprawling northwest of Los Angeles in the late 1800s, Hollywood has spanned lifetimes as a factory of dreams, a dazzling place where all things are possible. This collection of stories takes you on a journey into the golden age, illuminating the space between the airy fantasy and the gritty reality of life in Hollywood. In a transient city where nothing lasts, thousands of stories have taken place in their time here. From the offscreen debauchery of the silent era, to countless dramatic and mysterious deaths, to the sinister past lives of world-famous LA landmarks, vestiges of Hollywood’s checkered past can still be found all over the city. With generations of Tinseltown’s luminaries living and working under the sunny guise of paradisal prosperity, their real stories reveal the sordid underbelly lurking directly beneath the surface. A dangerous collusion between the studios, the press, the mob, and the LAPD forms an impenetrable behind-the-scenes network of corruption, power and control, where the truth is always up for sale. A network in which the most glamorous and well-known figures are merely players in this elaborate charade. It’s magical and gritty, it’s ugly and dirty, it’s the land of dreams…it’s Hollywood. 

My thoughts: This is a group of stories about the other side of Hollywood, telling the genuine story of those who worked and played there. It goes back to the earliest days of Tinseltown and covers many famous scandals and mysterious deaths that are still questioned by current readers. Many were handled by Hollywood fixers who would sanitize the scene of the crime before police were called, removing anything scandal worthy. Bribes were routinely given to officials to make stories and legal problems disappear. Most are well known stories but there are some that are less common. Those I liked the most, as I’ve read the others multiple times through the years. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Andrea Van Landingham, and the publisher.

Hollywood Horrors

Publisher: Lyons Press – 312 pages
Publication: Nov 1st, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author: A native of sun-bleached Los Angeles, Andrea Van Landingham grew up surrounded by L.A. stories. Her love of Hollywood lore dates back to her teen years, when the discovery of classic cinema led to a small collection of films – a collection that continues to expand today. Andrea’s fondest memory from those early years is riding the metro into Hollywood on weekends, exploring the locations where her favorite stars had long before worked and played.