REVIEW ~ Sunshine Skyway

SUNSHINE SKYWAY: A dark thrilling tale of obsession and hedonism set in Florida

 

I chose this book in error, thinking it was really a true crime book as it was in that category. I really hate when this happens, I must say. I try not to spoil books for myself by reading too much of the description, but enough to check that it’s not fiction. Here I slipped up, it happens. But I hoped that the setting being in an area I lived near for many years, that it might hold my interest anyway. I dove in and was pleased to find I could tolerate it 🙂 Young Roz finds herself newly married to Graham as a rebound after being dumped by someone she really was besotted with. On their honeymoon, she already feels she’s made a mistake, and finds herself looking to share the company of other couples and singles to avoid the awkwardness of being alone with her new husband. Especially the gorgeous man and woman she met jogging on the beach that have invited her and Graham to join them for dinner. Things become strained after they all have dinner, as she and Graham become even more estranged. Roz takes a break from Graham, and this is where things get mysterious and possibly put it into the crime category.

This book is for those who like women’s fiction, set in Florida. I liked it in spite of it not being the non-fiction I was expecting. The writing kept me interested and turning those pages on my Kindle. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jeannie van Rompaey, and the publisher.


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Publisher: BooksGoSocial – 252 pages
Publication: Sep 1st, 2019
RATING: 3/5 Stars


The Author- Born in London, Jeannie van Rompaey now lives on the subtropical island of Gran Canaria with historian husband TJ. When not walking on the beach, she spends her time writing and painting. She also runs a poetry group, Poems out Loud, and a Bookclub on the island.

Jeannie has an MA in Modern Literature from the University of Leicester and has spent much of her life as a lecturer, theatre director and actor. As Jeannie Russell she is a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators and adjudicates drama festivals in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Passionate about reading, writing and the theatre. Jeannie writes novels and short stories about the complexity of relationships and the joys and difficulties of parenting, as she speculates about the future of our planet. She is not restricted to writing in any particular genre but similar themes can be traced in all her work. She writes with humour and compassion. Enjoy!


 

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REVIEW ~ Tantamount

Tantamount: The Pursuit Of The Freeway Phantom Serial Killer

 

I recently bought this book and its a thoroughly researched book on the subject, set in Washington, DC and is quite a saga as it goes through its various iterations of early days, the victims, the killings, rumored suspects, false solving/hoax ending and later on, cold case/ reopening. Then new life is eventually breathed into it long after it’s played out, basically starting over, having to rebuild the case with help from other agencies to obtain recovered files. There’s also a strange angle involving St. Elizabeth’s asylum that still has to be run down.

It’s quite a story that needed to be told, and true crime fans will appreciate the depth of it as it has gone unsolved for decades. The case is getting lots of media this Fall. It looks like People Investigates is also doing one of their shows on it in November sometime on the ID channel, as I just saw a trailer for the Freeway Phantom on there when the new season starts, so that should be good as well. Perhaps the renewed interest will bring about a big solve, that would be great.


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Authors: Blaine L. Pardoe & Victoria R. Hester.
Publisher: BlueWater Press – 354 pages
Published: Oct 10th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Authors- Blaine Pardoe is an award-winning New York Times Bestselling author of true crime, military history, and science fiction books. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he has been a featured speaker at the National Archives, the US Naval Academy, and has appeared on numerous TV and radio programs discussing his work.

Victoria Hester is an award-winning New York Times Bestselling author and accomplished writer of four true crime books – with a concentrating on cold cases. A Director of Nursing, she co-authors with her father – making them the only father-daughter duo writing in the true crime genre.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Name Drop

Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour

 

I saw a review of this on a friend’s page and just had to check it out.  I think Ross is a hoot and would love to be besties with him anytime. His book is a good for a grin, and entertaining right down to the cocktail and appetizer recipes, or Rossipes as he calls them. If you’re ready for a lighthearted and fun break from whatever you’ve been reading, this will probably work for you, especially if you are a Ross Mathews fan. He keeps it real about the stars he meets, and has a great sense of humor that has served him well in his career path. If you love star gossip you will enjoy his book.

Now it makes me want to check out his first book too, which I likely will after this. It’s mentioned below in the author section. I will also be watching for future works of literary art from Ross and plenty more Rossipes for sure! Keep up the great work Ross, we need more happy entertainment like you provide. Perhaps my own personal vlog delivered to my inbox wouldn’t be too much to ask? 🙂 Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ross Mathews, and the publisher.

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Publisher: Atria Books – 240 pages
Publication: Feb 4th, 2020
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Ross Mathews is one of the most in-demand television personalities and pop culture experts in entertainment today. He is a judge on the Emmy Award–winning show RuPaul’s Drag Race, the bestselling author of Man Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence, and the host of the weekly pop culture podcast Straight Talk with Ross Mathews. He lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Man-hunters

Man-hunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar

This book recounts the careers of DEA agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena as they learn the job by just being put to work after their training. Eventually they work their way up to the more serious targets, until one day they are going after the big one, Pablo Escobar, when they get assigned to work in Columbia. They find the country in a state of turmoil with the drug lords and cartels killing people to try to prevent themselves from being extradited to the United States and put on trial for all of the crimes that they can be held accountable for there. Their answer is just to kill everyone with any power, thinking that will keep them safe. But it won’t prevent anything, it just adds more charges. The agents are working hand in hand with the Columbian National Police (CNP) and come to trust them to have their backs and vice versa when they follow the CNP into hidey holes going after Escobar. There is a price on the DEA agents’ heads of several hundred thousand dollars each, so they are especially prime targets. A good story for anyone with an interest in this subject. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Steve Murphy & Javier F. Pena, and the publisher.


 

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The publisher: St. Martin’s Press – 352 pages
Publication: Nov 12th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Authors- STEVE MURPHY worked undercover sting operations in Miami, and was eventually dispatched to Colombia where he worked with partner Javier Pena to track Escobar.

JAVIER F. PEÑA was hired by the DEA in 1984 as a special agent, and spent four years tracking Pablo Escobar with partner Steve Murphy.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ A Date With the Hangman

This is a history of capital punishment in Britain and it’s got some interesting facts and details from the past. It covers all the different methods used to execute condemned people through the centuries. It also discusses the executioners, and has a section listing people that were hung between 1900, their executioner, through abolition in 1964. I found it interesting and informative, I like reading about this type of thing and if it’s something that you enjoy also, you might want to check it out too. The death penalty is often a hot topic in our country too, as so many people here feel it’s not a deterrent as well. But there are still many who are wanting to keep it as well, and the debate goes on. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Gary Dobbs, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: Pen and Sword History – 152 pages
Publication: Nov 30th, 2019
RATED:  3.5/5 Stars


The Author- Welsh author Gary M. Dobbs first saw print as a fiction writer. Using the pen name Jack Martin he is responsible for a string of best-selling western novels as well as the hugely popular crime series, Granny Smith. The latter published under his own name.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Suspect

The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle


This is a thoroughly researched book about the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the bombing that happened. It also goes into the suspicion of Richard Jewell and all of the media surrounding the whole thing. There were reasons for them to look at Jewell, but he was just a little too convenient a patsy. I liked the look at some of the media’s role in the story, one writer in particular. This book was even better than I expected, and refreshed my memory on what happened with the case. It also has updates on all of the main players from the story, which I really liked, and wrapped it all up nicely. A very good read for anyone who has any interest in the story. I learned quite a lot I didn’t know. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Kent Alexander & Kevin Salwen, and the publisher.


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Publisher: Abrams Press – 368 pages
Publication: Nov 5th, 2019
RATED: 5/5 Stars


The Authors- Kent Alexander was the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia at the time of the 1996 Olympics. He spent hundreds of hours in meetings with the FBI about the bombing, and ultimately, he wrote and hand-delivered Jewell’s clearance letter.

Journalist Kevin Salwen is a former Wall Street Journal columnist and an editor who ran southeastern coverage for the paper during the Olympic Games.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Mothers & Murderers

Mothers & Murderers: A True Story of Love, Lies, Obsession and Second Chances

 

This was an unusual true crime case written about by Katherine Ellison, beginning when she was starting out as a reporter covering the crime beat for her paper. An error in one story later got her sued by one of the people, who was married to the victim and the whole mess dragged on for many years as she followed the case. The reporter kept trying to put it behind her and move on, even taking jobs as a freelancer in foreign countries, but this same case kept pulling her back at times. It’s an interesting read as Ellison tries to face up to things in herself that she wants to change that she feels she may share with the woman who sued her. While at the same time, doing some really great work in her writing. A fascinating story with many twists, and I had the added interest of it going to places in Michigan in the area I grew up, which made it fun. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Katherine Ellison, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: WildBlue Press – 318 pages
Publication: Sep 24th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars


 

The Author- Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer-prize-winning former foreign correspondent and the author of ten non-fiction books, on topics ranging from Imelda Marcos to environmental conservation to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. From 1984-99, she reported from Asia, Africa, and Latin America for Knight Ridder Newspapers, covering attempted coups, earthquakes, samba parades, civil wars, drug-trafficking, dictators, Avon ladies in the Amazon and more. Her numerous for journalism awards include The George Polk Award, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the Overseas Press Club of America’s award for human rights reporting. Returning to the United States in 1999, Ellison worked as an author, ghostwriter, communications strategist, and speechwriter for clients including major Silicon Valley investors, the Ford, Packard, and Irvine foundations and Cater Communications. Her feature stories and op-eds have appeared in media including The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Time, Fortune, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. She has been interviewed about her books by “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning,” “Time Magazine,” “Talk of the Nation” and others. Almost every Monday night, she leads a writing workshop at Marin County juvenile hall.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu

Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu

This book is about the development of Palm Beach (and other parts of the east coast of Florida) by Henry Flagler beginning in the late 1800s, but it’s so much more. There’s lots of background on Flagler and other moguls that is eye-opening. Flagler began with putting in a railroad that would go to St. Augustine and built a hotel and thought he was done. But he kept on going down the coast, finding ever more lovely places. He built a huge hotel in Palm Beach where there was basically nothing, after continuing his railroad further down into Florida to make areas accessible, and people thought he was crazy. But he knew what people who had money liked, and soon his hotels were doing good business, very good business indeed.

I’d recommend this for history and biography lovers who like to indulge in this type of a read. I found it very entertaining and enlightening. I lived in Florida for quite a few years, and you see the name Flagler all over the Eastern part of the state, but this book brings to life what he really meant to the state! This is much better than some dry history book, by far. He pretty much made that whole state blossom and take off. Once the east coast took off, its inevitable that other areas would slowly follow.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Les Standiford, and the publisher.

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Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press – 288 pages
Publication: Nov 15th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Les Standiford is the author of the bestselling Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles, and Meet you in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership that Transformed America, among many other works of fiction and nonfiction. He lives with his wife, Kimberly, in Florida.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Jet Girl by Caroline Johnson

Jet Girl: My Life in War, Peace, and the Cockpit of the Navy’s Most Lethal Aircraft, the F/A-18 Super Hornet


 

I found this to be fully engrossing and entertaining. It delivered Caroline Johnson’s story in wonderful style that was fun to read. Her story made me forget about everything else and I loved that it was so informative about the world of the Navy and the steps it took to become a pilot on the F/A-18 Super Hornet. I enjoyed reading all the details about the jets, procedures for flying, and everything to do with it, and the way this book was written it never got boring. I just kept wanting to read it long past my bedtime. Anyone with an interest in the Navy and/ or flying memoirs should check this out, it’s so good. One of my favorites this year. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Caroline Johnson, and the publisher.

 

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – 336 pages
Publication: Nov 5th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars


The Author- CAROLINE JOHNSON was an F/A-18 Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the US Navy. During her deployment aboard the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, she flew missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and was one of the first women to neutralize ISIS. Later during her Navy career, Caroline became a Senior Leadership instructor at the United States Naval Academy. She is now a professional speaker in the private sector.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Tillie

Tillie:: A New York City Girl: 1906-2001

 

This was a wonderful look back at life in New York City for a group of some Jewish immigrants, written by the son of one, Tillie Goldman, based on her memoirs he found along with many family photographs from that time. The photos really make the story stand out, as it fleshes out the places described where they lived and worked, and the many people involved. I just love looking at old pictures anyway, so that made this even more enjoyable for me, along with the memoir. It’s such a lovely way to honor your mother and tell the story of the family at the same time. An interesting piece of history at the same time. I’d recommend for memoir readers interested in this time period, area, and/or immigrants from the Romania area. Very good non-fiction with tons of pictures. Advance electronic review copy provided by author Mark Goldman.


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Publisher: City of Light Publishing ~ 108 pages
Publication: May 1st, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- An historian, Mark Goldman is the author of City on the Edge, City on the Lake, High Hopes, and the award-winning Albright: The Life and Times of John J. Albright. With Tillie he focuses his trained researcher’s eye on his own family. “This is the first book that I have written that is not set in Buffalo. I, like Tillie, am a New Yorker born and bred and it is there that so much of who I am resides. Tillie is as much a tribute to New York City as it is to Tillie.”