Blonde Rattlesnake

Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrorized Los Angeles

This turned out to be an interesting read about a media-heavy story back in the nineteen thirties about a five-days married couple, Burmah Adam White and Tom White, who were tracked down by law enforcement after a crime spree in Los Angeles that really had people on edge. They’d met at a dance, and had a rather whirlwind courtship of only a couple of weeks that coincided with the crime spree. It’s no surprise her family wasn’t a fan of the match, especially her dad, who really tried to talk her out of it. But she was having none of it, being a headstrong nineteen-year-old.

To the bride’s surprise, the groom turned out not to be a stockbroker with family wealth. He’s a stick-up man who used her as his driver and lookout person, and now she’s in all kinds of trouble sitting in jail awaiting her trial. Tom got the easy way out in a pine box after a shootout with the cops, so she’s also quickly a widow too.

I kind of felt they had to pad this story a bit to get enough for a book out of it by going off on tangents at times, like there wasn’t enough information on the subjects themselves and the trial, etc. But since I wanted to read the story I stuck with it. It still makes for a decent read if you like historical true crime from this period, the Depression era. I really enjoyed the pictures that are included too.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Julia Bricklin, and Lyons Press.




Publisher: Lyons Press – 200 pages
Publication: June 1st, 2019
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

The Author– Julia Bricklin is the author of Polly Pry: The Woman Who Wrote the West (2018, TwoDot) and numerous articles for commercial and academic journals and magazines. In addition to serving as associate editor of California History, the publication of the California Historical Society, she is a professor of history at Glendale Community College. Bricklin’s interest in historical figures of the American West stems from her extensive collection of books, and from decades of watching spaghetti Westerns with her father. She lives in Studio City, California.


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My thanks to Shalini and Digital Reads Blog Tours


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Mistaken Identity Crisis


A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer in order to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove.

As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices.

Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County.


Status: Available for pre-order now
Series: Braxton Campus Mysteries #4
Publisher: Creativia
Publication Date: 6/30/2019
Page Count: ~260




About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!



List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)


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Paw Prints

Paw Prints

This is the sweetest little sentimental farewell book to a younger dog that’s being missed by its loving owner who wants to celebrate its all-too-brief yet meaningful life. Touching, and the illustrations grew on me, with all the cute activity it was showing. Short but sweet, it won me over.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Morgan J Muir, and the publisher.

Publisher: BooksGoSocial
Illustrator: Sava Andreea
Published: April 10th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars

The Author- Morgan J Muir lives in Utah with her fantastic husband, three offspring, and as many cats.



A Hero on Mount St. Helens

A Hero on Mount St. Helens: The Life and Legacy of David A. Johnston

A very good account of the events at Mount St. Helens, Washington at and around the time of it blowing up back in mid-May 1980. But more than that it tells about a volcanologist who lost his life while doing his job. Much of what was learned by him and others after the event helped a great deal since then in the amount of knowledge going forward. The team of scientists that were conducting scientific research at the closest camp to the volcano, Coldwater II, were sent back to Vancouver for the night, while David remained behind. He was serving watch in his assistant’s place, sending him away after 2 weeks of his being on site. David was scheduled to be relieved the next morning. He got up at dawn and radioed into Vancouver just before 7 a.m. on the 18th with the results of three laser measurements he’d taken earlier. He reported the weather as very nice, perfectly clear, temperature about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (ten degrees Celcius). At 8:32 a.m. (PDT), a 5.1 magnitude earthquake caused the bulge on the north face of the mountain to give way and the largest landslide in recorded history sped down its flank. Just before it hit, David managed one final radio message, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” He was 30 years and 5 months old, to the day.




This wasn’t an excessively long story, it was just about right, giving background on David and his family as he grew up in Illinois. Very well written as it blends in facts about a deadly tornado early in Dave’s life…shaping him and leaning him toward a career in photojournalism. Then he got to college, with the Vietnam war going on and two of his early school buddies already on their way there. Dave took a geology class almost randomly and it changed his entire future when he found he was crazy about it and eventually changed his major. This ended up adding four more years to his college years, making a total of eleven. Partway through, this book became emotional for me as often happens. But it’s a really good story for those who enjoy science type memoirs. My parents traveled out west sometime after this event happened, and brought me back some of the ash. They went to where the lake used to be and talked about an abandoned truck that was still around somewhere. You could tell it had really made an impression on them, seeing the after effects. I highly recommend this book for those that have any interest. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Melanie Holmes, and the publisher for my fair review.

Publisher: University of Illinois Press – 216 pages
Publication: May 16th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars

The Author- Melanie Holmes is the author of The Female Assumption, recipient of a 2014 Global Media Award from the Population Institute.

Forever and Ever, Amen

Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life

I’ve been a fan of Randy Travis from way back so I picked up this ARC without hesitation. The story itself was good, easy reading, almost like having Randy Travis sitting in your living room having a fine old talk. This book in its final form will be enjoyed by most any Randy Travis fan who is looking for a good read about him. Or a biography reader who likes country music. The main focus is on his career, but there is some about his growing up years too. It’s also an inspiring story of how he’s overcome such awful medical issues that he wasn’t expected to survive. My thanks for the advance electronic review copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Randy Travis, and the publisher.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson- 304 pages
Published: May 14th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars




The Author- Randy Travis is a country music singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor. Since 1985, he has recorded 20 studio albums and charted more than 50 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and 16 of these were number-one hits. His debut album Storms of Life sold more than 4 million copies and established him as a major force in the neotraditional country movement. Travis followed up his successful debut with a string of platinum and multi-platinum albums. He has sold more than 25 million records and has earned 22 number-one hits, six number one albums, six Grammy Awards, six CMA Awards, nine ACM Awards, 10 AMA Awards, eight Dove Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2016, Travis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


The Castle on Sunset

The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont

This book is a history of the Chateau Marmont from its inception way back before the roads were even paved that it sits on. It’s loosely modeled after the Chateau d’Amboise, a royal retreat in France’s Loire Valley. Its name comes from the small street that runs along the front, with the main street on the side being Sunset Blvd. It started out as an upscale apartment building when it first opened in 1929. It was soon found to be difficult to fill the regular apartments, let alone the luxury penthouses with balconies, a total of 63 altogether. Opening a couple of years before the Depression happened didn’t help matters either. The original investors gave it a couple of years, then regrouped and said ok, if things don’t improve in a year, it’s time to sell and try something else.

And that is what happened, it was sold, and turned into a hotel by the new owner. It did ok under his ownership, but it was during the next owner that it really flourished. He had an eye for the long haul, and added the bungalows, a pool, made it more what it was really known for. The book shares stories of some who were part of the Marmont’s history in all different types of ways. All of them interesting. It was also interesting hearing about another place across the street that was really wild, The Garden of Allah. A good read for anyone interested in old Hollywood history stories, Schwab’s drugstore, all of the different night spots to party at. It’s filled with it. The advance electronic copy was provided by NetGalley, author Shawn Levy, and the publisher.




Publisher: Doubleday – 384 pages
Published: May 7th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars

The Author- Shawn Levy is the former film critic of The Oregonian and KGW-TV. His writing has appeared in Sight and Sound, Film Comment, American Film, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Black Rock Beacon. He is the bestselling author of Rat Pack Confidential, Paul Newman: A Life, and Dolce Vita Confidential. He jumps and claps and sings for victory in Portland, Oregon.

The Lazarus Files

The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation

The is such an excellent true crime story about the murder of Sherri Rasmussen back in February 1986. She was a newly married director of critical care nursing at Glendale Adventist Hospital. It is meticulously told, a bit too much so, in that it comes out to six hundred plus pages. Some repetitious areas where really, we got it the first time. But that aside, the cold case gets traction after DNA comes into play and the husband’s old girlfriend, LA cop Stephanie Lazarus is finally suspect #1, as she should have been long ago. Stephanie is a real piece of work, as you will know by reading this book.

My original review went poof, so I’m piecing this together from memory. It’s a good book, but I give a warning for the length. But maybe you’re in the mood for a good long book. There is a chapter on The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez you could probably skip if you are already familiar with him and want to cut out some filler. Otherwise, enjoy and I can’t wait to see what you think of this book. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Matthew McGough, and the publisher.

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co – 624 pages
Published: April 30th, 2019
RATED: 3/5 Stars

The Author- Matthew McGough was born in New York. He is the author of “Bat Boy: Coming of Age with the New York Yankees” and has also worked as a screenwriter for LAW & ORDER. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.