Dig If You Will the Picture

Dig If You Will the Picture
Dig if You Will the Picture by Ben Greenman

Ghost of the Innoncent Man

Ghost of the Innoncent Man
Ghost of the Innocent Man by Benjamin Rachlin

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ghost of the Innocent Man- A True Story of Trial and Redemption- by Benjamin Rachlin- Feature and Review

During the last two decades, more than two thousand American citizens have been wrongfully convicted. Ghost of the Innocent Man brings us one of the most dramatic of those cases and provides the clearest picture yet of the national scourge of wrongful conviction and of the opportunity for meaningful reform.

When the final gavel clapped in a rural southern courtroom in the summer of 1988, Willie J. Grimes, a gentle spirit with no record of violence, was shocked and devastated to be convicted of first-degree rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. Here is the story of this everyman and his extraordinary quarter-century-long journey to freedom, told in breathtaking and sympathetic detail, from the botched evidence and suspect testimony that led to his incarceration to the tireless efforts to prove his innocence and the identity of the true perpetrator. These were spearheaded by his relentless champion, Christine Mumma, a cofounder of North Carolina's Innocence Inquiry Commission. That commission-unprecedented at its inception in 2006-remains a model organization unlike any other in the country, and one now responsible for a growing number of exonerations.

With meticulous, prismatic research and pulse-quickening prose, Benjamin Rachlin presents one man's tragedy and triumph. The jarring and unsettling truth is that the story of Willie J. Grimes, for all its outrage, dignity, and grace, is not a unique travesty. But through the harrowing and suspenseful account of one life, told from the inside, we experience the full horror of wrongful conviction on a national scale. Ghost of the Innocent Man is both rare and essential, a masterwork of empathy. The book offers a profound reckoning not only with the shortcomings of our criminal justice system but also with its possibilities for redemption.



Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and RedemptionGhost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin is a 2017 Little, Brown and Co. Publication.

"Our dangers do not lie in too little tenderness to the accused. Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the Innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream.”

This is an astounding nonfiction accounting of a Willie J. Grimes’ wrongful conviction in 1988, the beginning of ‘The Innocence Project’, and the long, hard fought battle to free an innocent man of a crime he did not commit.

As we know, our perceptions and trust in our judicial – law and order – system has changed drastically over the past several decades. With DNA evidence exonerating so many wrongfully convicted people, the system has come under even closer scrutiny, to the point where even hardcore believers in capital punishment no longer advocate for it, not because they stopped believing in the death sentence, but because they are worried to death that an innocent person might die for a crime they didn’t commit.

While, a good majority of those sitting in prisons are guilty of the crimes they are accused of, there are more and more cases like Willie Grimes coming to light. Part of the reason why is because of forensics, and high -profile cases picked up by the media. But, credit must be given to ‘The Innocence Project’, as well.

While all of these cases are absolutely heartbreaking, the case of Willie Grimes is especially hard to take. Willie worked two jobs and was in a stable relationship. But, when an elderly woman was raped, Willie was misidentified as the perpetrator, and the investigators knew it and helped the erroneous information along.

Willie did what he could to fight his conviction, even while he suffered though horrible depression and illness.

The one bright spot for Willie and others in his position was the interest and involvement of Chris Mumma, who picked up his file.

Willie with his attorneys- featuring Chris Mumma

The road was long, filled with disappointments and setbacks, but after twenty-four years in prison, Willie was finally exonerated.

This book highlights the ways wrongful convictions can occur, with law enforcement not following up, ignoring facts, creating evidence, coupled with eyewitness mistakes, in regards to identification, or with the defendant having limited legal recourse.

In the hurry to close cases, a multitude of mistake can happen, investigations are lazy/ dirty/messy- or alternative suspects are not pursued. It is a travesty. Not only do the innocent lose years of their lives they will never be able to get back or do over, but justice is not being served.

How many other women were raped because the wrong guy was convicted? How many people are walking around free as a bird, after having committed a crime, while someone else is languishing in prison or worse- on death row?

This is a very thought-provoking book, which is extremely well written and organized. It stays on topic without straying off course or going on long diatribes or preachy soap box sermons. The author keeps the book pretty much about Willie Grimes and his life in prison, how he coped, how he fought, and about Chris Mumma and the Innocence Project who noticed all the discrepancies in Willie’s case and worked to bring his plight back into the court system. Once someone is behind bars, it is very, very difficult to get a conviction overturned or get a new trial, even when there is overwhelming evidence of innocence.

Thankfully, in Willie’s case, everyone’s hard work paid off and he managed to get his moment of redemption.

Willie’s story angered me, frustrated me, and it was certainly a depressing and gloomy journey, but at the same time, I was buoyed by time and energy people put in to see that Willie’s case was finally heard.

Overall, this book is an important book, one of justice denied and justice found. There are thousands of people in prison for crimes they did not commit. It is as important as ever to prevent anyone from spending a day behind bars for a crime they are innocent of, and to incarcerate those who are guilty of those crimes, which makes organizations like The Innocence Project necessary.





Benjamin Rachlin grew up in New Hampshire. He studied English at Bowdoin College, where he won the Sinkinson Prize, and writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he won Schwartz and Brauer fellowships. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, TIME, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives near Boston.

Monday, September 18, 2017

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT- Dig, if you will the Picture: The Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince by Ben Greenman- Feature and Review

A unique and kaleidoscopic look into the life, legacy, and electricity of the pop legend Prince and his wideranging impact on our culture

Ben Greenman, New York Times bestselling author, contributing writer to the New Yorker, and owner of thousands of recordings of Prince and Prince-related songs, knows intimately that there has never been a rock star as vibrant, mercurial, willfully contrary, experimental, or prolific as Prince. Uniting a diverse audience while remaining singularly himself, Prince was a tireless artist, a musical virtuoso and chameleon, and a pop-culture prophet who shattered traditional ideas of race and gender, rewrote the rules of identity, and redefined the role of sex in pop music.

A polymath in his own right who collaborated with George Clinton and Questlove on their celebrated memoirs, Greenman has been listening to and writing about Prince since the mid-eighties. Here, with the passion of an obsessive fan and the skills of a critic, journalist, and novelist, he mines his encyclopedic knowledge of Prince’s music to tell both his story and the story of the paradigm-shifting ideas that he communicated to his millions of fans around the world. Greenman's take on Prince is the autobiography of a generation and its ideas. Asking a series of questions--not only “Who was Prince?” but “Who wasn’t he?” and “Who are we?”--Dig if You Will the Picture is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary talent.



Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of PrinceDig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince by Ben Greenman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dig if you Will, The Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince by Ben Greenman is a 2017 Henry Holt & Company publication.

‘Science-fiction authors have played around with the idea of extreme longevity and what effect it might have on the human psyche, speculating that if humans lived to be a thousand years old, they’d be so preoccupied with protecting that lifespan, that they would never even cross the street. Prince took the opposite tack, and then some.”

Before you begin reading this book, be sure to take note of these words in the title: ‘The Music of Prince’.

This is NOT a biography, but more of a fan driven homage to Prince and his music with many interesting and thought -provoking insights. However, it rarely delves too deeply into the personal life of Prince.

Having said that, it would be impossible to ignore some personal aspects, and to leave them out entirely would have been a big mistake, but, when the time came to address those issues, the author gave the least amount of information possible, and did not linger on them for long. In fact, it was almost as if it made him squirm and he wanted to gloss it over and move on as quickly as possible.

So, if you are looking for a definitive biography that digs deeply into the life of this iconic musician, as well as his musical talents, this is not the book you are looking for.

However, if you are a rabid fan- loved Prince’s music, style, fashion, and mystique and would like to take a closer look at his musical influence and public life, this book will give you plenty to reminisce about.

For me, this book was a like skipping down memory lane. I was reminded of so many Prince moments I’d forgotten all about overtime, and discovered others I was totally unaware of.

To be honest, I liked Prince, enjoyed his music and aura, but at best, I was only a casual fan. Still who could forget the VMA when he wore those yellow ‘assless’ pants?

Have you ever watched that awkward interview he did with Dick Clark on American Bandstand? I had not. In fact, I never even knew Prince had made an appearance on the show. You have to look that up on YouTube.

 From a nostalgic standpoint, these reminders of Prince’s early career moments are fun pop culture snapshots that show how his styles and music changed and developed over the course of time.

But, this is not just a book packed with trivial ‘fan book’ facts. The author goes into deeper discussions about the themes represented in the music, as well as career highs and lows, who he was influenced by, his need for control and his battles for individuality, while maintaining a mass appeal to such an incredibly broad audience.

“One bear said,
‘Did you hear about Rustam?’
He has become famous
And travels from city to city
In a golden cage;

He preforms to hundreds of people
Who laugh and applaud
His carnival

The other bear thought for
A few seconds
Then started


This book explores song meanings, sexuality, spirituality, and race, but also highlights life on the road, performances, and Prince’s fight with recording studios and for the rights to his songs, the snafu over copyrights in the age of the internet and the integrity of his art, the importance of his privacy and how he did things, for better or worse, in the way he thought was best, and would grant him the creative license he needed.

Knowing what we know now, this book could have had a sad, melancholy tone, but it doesn’t. It steers far from the very dark and still secretive life of Prince and stays focused, as much as possible, on his music and career.

The only downside, is that in this author’s eyes, Prince could do no wrong, and so everything he did or said was given a positive spin with some excuses stretching the limits just a wee bit, and it appears that the author is still trying to wrap his head around the darker areas of his idol’s life, still clinging to that persona he has etched in his memory.

However, to this day, my favorite memory of Prince- is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony when he joined Tom Petty on a star- studded stage and literally blew everyone away with his guitar solo in “My Guitar Gently Weeps" I am amazed. The guy was absolutely incredible.


Even though I’m not necessarily the targeted audience for this type of book, I did find enjoy the exploration of the music and the unique perspectives given of Prince’s professional journey.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a big fan, for the pop culture enthusiast, or for those who might wish to take an in depth look at Prince’s art and music without it being bogged down by too much personal drama.





Ben Greenman is a New York Times best   bestselling author who has written both fiction and nonfiction. He is the author of several acclaimed works of fiction, including the novel The Slippage and the short-story collections What He’s Poised to Do and Superbad. He is the co-author of the bestselling Mo' Meta Blues with Questlove, the bestselling I Am Brian Wilson with Brian Wilson, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? with George Clinton, and more. His fiction, essays, and journalism have appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Paris Review, Zoetrope: All Story, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere, and have been widely anthologized. His most recent book is Dig If You Will The Picture, a meditation on the life and career of Prince.

Friday, September 15, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Circle by Dave Eggers- Feature and Review


When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America - even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.



The CircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Circle by Dave Eggers is a 2013 Knopf publication.

This book was recommended to me by someone recently, but I wasn’t sure if it was really my kind of book. Many folks had marked it as ‘Dystopian’ and I’m not as big on that trend as everyone else, so I waffled a little, but ultimately chose to borrow it from the library.

Reading the editorial reviews, one described this book as a parable. I can’t think of a more apt word than that for this novel.

Even in just three short years, since this book was published, many of the very things the novel cautions us about are coming to fruition. Frankly, this book was rather startling and scarier than anything I could have chosen in the paranormal or horror genre.

This is an interesting expose that naturally conjures up images of various ‘tech campuses’, and our loss of privacy in the social media age.

There are interesting parallels and a lot to mull over in this cautionary tale, and overall, the story is well written, suspenseful, and doesn’t seem all that far -fetched, in fact much of it is plausible, which is what I found so disturbing about it.

While this sort of book is not usually my cup of tea, and you won’t see me searching out similar material anytime soon, I have to confess I liked the book better than I thought I would, and can understand why is was recommended to me. It is definitely thought provoking, chilling, and had me turning and tossing for a couple of nights wondering if we are heading in exactly this direction….





Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization that connects students with resources, schools and donors to make college possible.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown- Feature and Review


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sandra Brown delivers her trademark nonstop suspense and supercharged sexual tension in this thriller about tainted heroism, cold fury, and vengeance without mercy.

Kerra Bailey is a television journalist on the rise, and she's hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to even greater heights: an interview with the legendary Major Trapper. Twenty-five years ago, the Major emerged a hero from the bombing of the Pegasus Hotel in downtown Dallas when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors out of the collapsing building. The iconic picture transformed him into a beloved national icon, in constant demand for speeches and interviews--until he suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all members of the media. However, Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get to the Major--even if she has to wrangle an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, John Trapper wants no association with the hotel bombing or his hero father, and spurns the meddling reporters determined to drag them back into the limelight. Yet Kerra's sheer audacity and tantalizing hints that there's more to the story rouse Trapper's interest despite himself. And when her interview of a lifetime goes catastrophically awry--with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra--Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he's going to track down the gunmen before they strike again . . . as well as discover, finally, who was responsible for the Pegasus bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence collected during his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces and risk their very lives to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy running deep through Texas--and uncover who would want a national hero dead.



Seeing RedSeeing Red by Sandra Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown is a 2017 Grand Central publication.

A gripping, dynamic and complex thriller from one of the best romantic suspense authors around!

Pictures that capture iconic or heroic moments in time are etched into our consciousness, conjuring the emotions and trauma of an event, cementing it in our minds forevermore. The image of Major Franklin Trapper leading a small number of people from a bombed out hotel, captured his brave act of heroism, adding it to those iconic images, and catapulted him to enormous fame.

Now, years later, ambitious and dedicated journalist, Kerra Bailey has her heart set on interviewing the Major. But, he’s not answering her calls. As a last resort, she contacts his estranged son, Trapper, hoping he can help get her foot in the door.

Her plan works, despite Trapper’s blunt rudeness, but once Kerra gets her chance, it turns deadly when she and the Major are attacked inside his home. The logical motive behind the ambush must have something to do with the decades old bombing and the fear that Kerra’s interview might unearth long buried secrets and corruption.

Trapper, a former ATF agent, once on the brink of discovering who was behind the hotel bombing, that made his father famous, but also drove a wedge between them, is determined to keep Kerra safe, while hopefully solving the decades old crime that cost so many people their lives.

This story has a sophisticated plot, tapping on a few timely themes, solving not one, but two horrendous crimes. One, the cold case, which is long overdue for justice and the present -day crimes connected to it.

For Kerra, the interview with the Major, could make her a superstar, but it’s much more personal that anyone realizes. It’s personal for Trapper as well, but he doesn’t want to let on how worried he is about his father or how much he cares about Kerra.

As the pair join forces, they begin to uncover a shocking trail of greed, coercion, and abuse of power. The twists come at a rapid -fire pace, with skill and cunning precision.

There are plenty of thought provoking characterizations, all well-defined and full of conflict and festering resentments. The bad guys chilled me to the bone with their unapologetic lack of remorse, twisted and manipulative mind games, and lust for power and control.

The romance between Trapper and Kerra may be rocky, but it’s blazing hot! I loved the dialogue and banter between the couple, and despite Trapper’s lack of apparent sentimental charm, I couldn’t stay mad at him for long, and mostly got a kick out his frank appraisals and remarks.

Sandra Brown has romantic suspense writing down to a science. Her fans want and expect edgy plotlines and high -heat romance, and she more than delivers with this novel. But, even if you don’t enjoy reading romance, there is a perfect balance of the two elements, so that it will appeal to a broader audience and to anyone who simply wants to enjoy a good old fashioned thriller.

Sandra Brown is a ‘go to’ author for me, and has been for years. Her books just keep getting better and better!





Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including STING (2016), FRICTION (2015), MEAN STREAK (2014), DEADLINE (2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), and the critically acclaimed RAINWATER (2010).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-three languages.

Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer's Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub- Feature and Review


The town of Mundy’s Landing was founded on a horrifying secret, but stark white bones of the dead never lie…
“We shall never tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy travels to her ancestral hometown to trace her past. In Mundy’s Landing, she connects with long lost relatives—and a closet full of skeletons going back centuries.
In the year since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, she—like the village itself—has made a fresh start. But someone has unearthed blood-drenched secrets in a disembodied skull, and is hacking away at the Mundy family tree, branch by branch…



Bone WhiteBone White by Wendy Corsi Staub
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

This is the third and final installment in the ‘Mundy’ series.

I’ve been following along with this series from the beginning and so far, it’s been a very interesting, albeit slightly quirky series, which is set in Mundy’s Landing.

Now that the “Sleeping Beauty’ murder case has been solved, and Sullivan Leary has decided to leave the big city and settle in Mundy’s Landing, things have been rather quiet. But, after Emerson Mundy’s father died, and she discovers an old letter bearing the cryptic sentence, “I’ll never tell”, she decides to travel to Mundy’s Landing to search out her past.

However, Emerson’s arrival seems to have unleashed a chain reaction of sorts. Sullivan’s old partner, Barnes, shows up needing a place to lay low, and a skull has been discovered, and turned over to forensics - so once again explosive and long buried secrets come back to haunt this seemingly quaint small town.

I really, really wanted to like this book, since I was already invested in the story, and wanted to see how everything wrapped up.

But, I confess, I  struggled with this one for a while. The pacing was slow, and the suspense level seemed to stall out. I was only mildly curious about Emerson’s fiancĂ©, but, was moderately interested in Ora and what the lab would discover about the skull, while the only truly perplexing part of the story, for a while there, was what might be going on with Barnes.


I’m glad I stuck it out, because THAT twist, which I assure you, you will never in a million years, see coming, is worth the wait.

Once I finished the book and had a little time to think about all the various threads and how the trilogy came to a close- or at least I’m presuming this is the final chapter, I began to see the genius in the way characters from previous installments popped in and the history plays such an important role. I think maybe I had underestimated this one at first, perhaps overlooking some of the finer points and nuances, which only came to me once I had finished the entire book.

So, now that I’ve thought about it a while, this installment ended the trilogy in the best possible way. I guess it kind of grew on me.

I think this series is well worth the time for any mystery lover. It’s unique, has a perfect setting, and is very cleverly plotted, adding in rich historical backgrounds, that relates to the crimes currently under investigation, which is a very nice touch and adds another layer of mystery and substance to the story.

I recommend reading the series in order for the best enjoyment-





New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than eighty novels, best known for the single title psychological suspense novels she writes under her own name. Those novels and the women's fiction she writes under the pseudonym Wendy Markham also frequently appear on the USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookscan bestseller lists.

In 2015, Wendy will publish three new novels: THE BLACK WIDOW (on sale in February), which concludes her cyber predator suspense trilogy for HarperCollins; BLOOD RED (on sale in September), which launches Mundy’s Landing, a new psychological suspense trilogy for HarperCollins; and NINE LIVES (on sale in October), which launches Lily Dale, a new cozy mystery series for Crooked Lane.

A two-time finalist for the prestigious Simon and Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award, she’s won the 2008 RT Award for Career Achievement in Suspense, the 2007 RWA-NYC Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement, an RWA Rita award, and five WLA Washington Irving Prizes for Fiction. 

She previously published a dozen adult suspense novels with Kensington Books as well as the acclaimed young adult series Lily Dale with Walker/Bloomsbury. Earlier in her career, she published in a broad range of genres under her own name and various pseudonyms, and has co-authored and ghostwritten for a number of celebrities.

Wendy grew up in a small town near Buffalo and graduated from SUNY Fredonia. She moved to Manhattan and became an editor before selling her first novel in 1992.
She now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and sons. A vocal and active supporter of Relay for Life, Support Connection, and the American Cancer Society, she was a 2012 Ovarian Cancer Awareness month national spokesperson for the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation. As an animal rights advocate, she fosters for various rescue organizations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson- Feature and Review


With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality - the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman. 

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy - an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.



The Almost SistersThe Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson is a William Morrow publication.

An insane and highly addicting concoction of quirky southern drama-

Set in Alabama, this story centers around Leia Birch Briggs, a comic book illustrator, trying to give her most famous character new life with a prequel. But, her personal problems soon take precedent over her career difficulties, when, after tying one on at a comic convention, Leia discovers her one night stand with ‘Batman’ has resulted in an unexpected pregnancy.

But, before she can properly absorb her own situation, she must travel to a small Alabama town to look after her grandmother ‘Birchie’ who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia, but also finds herself embroiled in the marital woes of her sister Rachel and winds up taking care of her teenage niece, Lavender, temporarily.

If that wasn’t enough to deal with, a trunk containing human remains, is discovered in Birchie’s possession, making her a witness? Suspect? No one really knows, but the whole sordid truth is about to come spilling out.

Initially, Leia feels ill equipped to handle all this drama, consumed as she is with her own dilemmas. But, with Lavender’s insights and meddling, Leia begins to slowly step up to the plate, gaining a new level of maturity, taking charge by doing what she must for her grandmother, niece, sister and her unborn child. Maybe not quite like her alter ego comic book superheroes, whose character run along side Leia's, but enough to keep her family from falling completely apart.

This book is filled with zany, quirky, and flawed characters all facing heavy, life altering situations, and they are nearly all related to or deeply connected to each other, making the situation even more volatile.

The story is complex, an odd mingling of old southern ways of thinking with modern phrasings and forward thinking, tinged with just a tiny bit of Southern Gothic. While heavier issues are explored, like race, and dementia, as well as the need for forgiveness, the story didn’t become too overburdened or heavy until the last few chapters, where any lighter tones all but vanished and a very dark story emerged.

But, overall, the heavier atmosphere mixed surprisingly well with the lighter narrative, and of course any story that features a mysterious, old family secret, a little romance, and a little southern fried drama, is right up my alley.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but now that I have had a taste of her work, I believe I’ll have to have a second helping!!





Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times Bestselling author of six novels, most recently SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY

Her short novella, MY OWN MIRACULOUS, is the prequel to her latest title, and is available as an e book and an audio download.

She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband and their two kids. She loves Bourbon and Hot Yoga (not together) and she has more dogs than you. Unless you have three. 

She's also an award winning audiobook narrator. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Devil's Cut by J.R. Ward- Feature and Review


In #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale of the Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.



Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3)Devil's Cut by J.R. Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward is a 2017 Ballantine publication.

A fantastic conclusion to the Bourbon Kings series-

I have loved, loved, loved this trilogy! The series was inspired by the author’s love for those scandalously delicious nighttime soap operas like ‘Dynasty’.

This trilogy has been like a guilty pleasure, totally sudsy, very dramatic, and wildly entertaining. I loved the family saga which is centered around the Bradford's, an uber wealthy Kentucky family who made their fortune with their own brand of Bourbon.

This last installment finds Edward, the eldest son, sitting in jail after having confessed to murdering his father. Facing a long prison sentence, Edward will have to put aside any chance he may have had with Sutton, who is the CEO of his family’s strongest competitor.

Meanwhile, Lane has taken over the family business, struggling to find a way to keep the company alive after his father’s death.

And then there is Gin- trapped in a cruel marriage, believing money defines her, who has lost, once and for all, the love of her life- Samuel T., but, is secretly working to leave a legacy for her daughter and is finally ready to step up and do what is right.

I could have handled a few more chapters in this series, but if it had to end, this was the perfect way to tie everything up.

I cheered for those who finally broke through, cried over inevitable developments, and sighed over those wonderfully tender moments between lovers and family.

I have enjoyed all the juicy scandals, the biting dialogue and watching from the sidelines while this crazy mess of a family rose to the occasion, showing true grit and determination and proving they had more substance than what you might see on the surface, and that with or without money, this family is loyal despite the obstacles in their way.

There are still many dark secrets and shocking revelations to uncover in this installment and of course it's not short on drama!! The author did an amazing job of wrapping everything up, giving each character a chance to make their own way on their own terms.

At the end of the day, this series has been about family, about facing adversity, about making sacrifices for those you love, and how evil and malice is no match for true love!!

The Bradford’s will land on their feet and will be stronger than ever before!!

Overall, this is a rousing and inspirational conclusion to this amazing family saga!! Bravo, J.R. Ward, Bravo!!





J.R. Ward is the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series of vampire books. She is a winner of the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best Paranormal Romance and is a multiple RITA nominee. A graduate of Smith College, she was a double major in History and Art History with a medieval concentration in both and she still longs at times for a return to those days sitting in dark lecture halls, looking at slides of old triptychs and reliquaries. Prior to becoming a full time writer, she was a corporate attorney, serving for many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard Medical Schools premier teaching sites. Her idea of absolute heaven is a day filled with nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot and the Brothers, of course.