Posted in Audiobooks, Book Club Reads, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

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*No Major Spoilers*

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history–and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society–the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal–private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

“Poor people all think they deserve to be rich,” he continued. “Rich people live every day with the uneasy knowledge that we do not.”
Graham Moore, The Last Days of Night

This historical fiction novel was interesting to me because I’ve always had a fascination with the early inventors. The remarkable scientific leaps are amazing even for the times. Without these such inventors, we wouldn’t have things like the Internet, our smartphones and computers.

The mythos that surrounds Nichola Tesla is fascinating. How he was so far advanced for his time, and whether the government was conspiring to hide his inventions or ideas. Tesla is featured prominently in this novel, and I enjoyed how not only foreign in a fact that he is from another country, but foreign in how his intelligence far outpaces everyone else.

Paul’s adventure into this strange new world full of scientific wonders was awe-inspiring. How Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb and so many other inventions from the scientific community. I can understand Paul’s struggle to comprehend new technologies.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of historical fiction, early inventors, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and early lawyering.

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Posted in Book Reviews

REVIEW: Holmes on the Range (Holmes on the Range #1) by Steve Hockensmith

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*No Major Spoilers*

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When brothers Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at a secretive ranch, they’re not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a few free moments to enjoy their favorite pastime: reading stories about Sherlock Holmes.

When another hand turns up dead, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired “deducifyin'” skills and sets out to solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.

“You can follow a trail without even knowing you’re on it. You start out just ambling, maybe get to thinking you’re lost–but you’re headed somewhere all the same. You just don’t know it until you get there.” – Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith

As much as you hear about how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes affected pop culture, you really don’t see it much outside of the United Kingdom. I am thrilled to see a western twist on the Sherlockian mystery subgenre. It makes the western genre unique and intriguing, not knowing who’s behind the murder until the unveiling at the end of the novel.

The Amlingmeyer brothers are just trying to survive in the late 1800’s America. When they stumble unto a murder mystery too difficult to ignore, they are in for an adventure. Lives and reputations are at stake as Old Red starts to meddle in places where he doesn’t belong.

The unlikeliness of a poor ranch hand solving an intricate mystery made the Amlingmeyer brothers’ struggle to solve the mystery all the more difficult. Old Red was more of an illiterate Sherlock Holmes and Big Red more of a brother trusting his kin. Big Red and Old Red is the only family they have left, so there’s no other choice but to stick together when things get dicey.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of westerns, mysteries, and Sherlockian style storytelling. This novel will leave you guessing until the big reveal, and even then you may be surprised to learn the answer to the mysteries.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Gone to Dust (Nils Shapiro #1) by Matt Goldman​

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*No Major Spoilers*

Private detective Nils Shapiro is focused on forgetting his ex-wife and keeping warm during another Minneapolis winter when a former colleague, neighboring Edina Police Detective Anders Ellegaard, calls with the impossible.

Suburban divorcee Maggie Somerville was found murdered in her bedroom, her body covered with the dust from hundreds of emptied vacuum cleaner bags, all potential DNA evidence obscured by the calculating killer.

Digging into Maggie’s cell phone records, Nils finds that the most frequently called number belongs to a mysterious young woman whose true identity could shatter the Somerville family–but could she be guilty of murder?

*Just my thoughts real quick about book summaries before my review*

Why do the authors put too much about their novel in the summary? I’ve read some novel summaries and thought yeah I already know how this is going to end. I prefer a summary that focuses on the main ideas. What is the mystery? What makes this case unique? That’s all I need to know.

I usually copy and paste the summaries from Goodreads. I have to edit them sometimes due to spoilers, and too much of the story.

Ok, now on to my review. I honestly can’t remember whether I found this on a book list or if I found this on my own. No matter, I’m glad I got the chance to read this one!

Nils Shapiro was a relatable character, he was going to be a police officer, and when he graduated from the police academy he decided to become a private detective. Since private detectives and the local police force are not quite the best of friends, the fact that the local police are asking Nils for help is surprising.

Most private investigators tend to work more in the gray areas of crime, cheating spouse, being hired to find dirt on someone important. So the police don’t usually ask them for assistance on a case unless the family of the victim(s) hires them.

This investigation was surprising and kept me guessing on how committed this heinous crime. I felt the use of the vacuum cleaner bags to cover up evidence made this mystery all the more intriguing.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. This is one of the more memorable ones I’ve read in the past months. The conclusion was thrilling and exciting. I can’t wait to hear more from Nils Shapiro in the future.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris

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*No Major Spoilers*

In the tradition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a captivating mystery about a boy with synesthesia — a condition that causes him to see colors when he hears sounds — who tries to uncover what happened to his beautiful neighbor, and if he was ultimately responsible.

Thirteen-year-old Jasper Wishart lives in a world of dazzling color that no one else can see, least of all his dad. Words, numbers, days of the week, people’s voices—everything has its own unique shade. But recently Jasper has been haunted by a color he doesn’t like or understand: the color of murder.

Convinced he’s done something terrible to his new neighbor, Bee Larkham, Jasper revisits the events of the last few months to paint the story of their relationship from the very beginning. As he struggles to untangle the knot of untrustworthy memories and colors that will lead him to the truth, it seems that there’s someone else out there determined to stop him — at any cost.

I didn’t bother to ask what people would think. I’d given up trying to guess the answer to that particular puzzle long ago – The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder

This novel is beautifully written, vivid colors, and real raw emotions portrayed from Jasper throughout the entire story. I felt in awe of Jasper’s gift to see the colors others cannot. The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder helped me experience what people with synesthesia see every day.

I thought the mystery was intriguing. This novel doesn’t necessarily have a “bad guy” even the antagonist of the story is relatable and you end up feeling sorry for what they did. Jasper was just trying to do what was right, and to tell the truth about what happened to Bee.

I love how the neighborhood parakeets played a major role in the story. They grew and changed just like Jasper did throughout the story. They weren’t just a bad plot device, they actually portrayed Jasper’s growth as he solves the case.

I wanted so badly to see Jasper’s paintings for myself, to see why Bee was fascinated with the ones Jasper had painted while she had her music lessons. Was it just as abstract as Jasper claims it to be? I’m not sure, but I wish they were real.

The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder was a heartwarming and colorful read. I wish this novel was more mainstream, but it was a wonderful find all the same. This novel will have you laughing out loud and reaching for the tissues by the end. This book will stay with me for a while after I finished the last chapter.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of unique mysteries, stories about children with learning disabilities, and of course, colors and parakeets. I think if you enjoy reading about any of those kinds of things, you’ll love this novel as much as I do.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Awakened by James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth

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*No Spoilers*

After years of waiting, New York’s newest subway line is finally ready, an express train that connects the city with the burgeoning communities across the Hudson River. The shining jewel of this state-of-the-art line is a breathtaking visitors’ pavilion beneath the river.  Major dignitaries, including New York City’s Mayor and the President of the United States, are in attendance for the inaugural run, as the first train slowly pulls in.

Under the station’s bright ceiling lights, the shiny silver cars gleam. But as the train comes closer into view, a far different scene becomes visible.

All the train’s cars are empty.

All the cars’ interiors are drenched in blood.

As chaos descends, all those in the pavilion scramble to get out. But the horror is only beginning. High levels of deadly methane fill the tunnels. The structure begins to flood. For those who don’t drown, choke or spark an explosion, another terrifying danger awaits—the thing that killed all those people on the train. It’s out there…and it’s coming.

There’s something living beneath New York City, and it’s not happy we’ve woken it up.

I have noticed a trend with my reading preference, this is the second horror novel that involves a monster that I’ve read and reviewed recently. Maybe I need to change it up a bit haha.

I enjoyed this novel a lot, a “locked room escape” is thrilling and exhilarating. To think that there are creatures and monsters that are unknown to the world, and having to fight against the unknown. It makes for your classic monster story.

I liked the fact that there was a small main group of citizens, reporters, police, and politicians where the main attack occurred. However, when they started bringing in “rescue teams” I felt like it made the list of main characters too many.

This novel is graphic and heavily violent. They describe the carnage in detail, so this isn’t for the faint of heart. They describe the creatures ripping bodies limb from limb leaving blood, gore, and entrails of everything from intestines to brain matter. There is no bit of violence left unsaid.

The exhilaration I felt while reading this was absolutely intense, I could sense the fear, pain, and wonderment of the entire story!

Overall, this story isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s still an excellent read! Anyone interested in gore, horror or knockoff Xenomorphs will definitely love this one!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Extreme Makeover by Dan Wells

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*No Spoilers*

Lyle Fontanelle is the chief scientist for NewYew, a health and beauty company experimenting with a new, anti-aging hand lotion. As more and more anomalies crop up in testing, Lyle realizes that the lotion’s formula has somehow gone horribly wrong. It is actively overwriting the DNA of anyone who uses it, turning them into physical clones of someone else. Lyle wants to destroy the formula, but NewYew thinks it might be the greatest beauty product ever designed–and the world’s governments think it’s the greatest weapon.

This is a satire turned horror story on how society as a whole treats the beauty industry. Everyone wants to be someone else. Plastic surgery, makeup, hair dye, the list goes on. So the concept of a lotion that can make you look like a model is remarkable.

I found the character development to be really well executed. Lyle grows from being a no confrontation type to being assertive and letting others know what he thinks. Seeing him grow and change throughout the novel made the cliche of one-dimensional character in the horror genre non-existent.

My favorite part of this novel was when Lyle had to face the remaining United Nations delegates, and he made the first step towards him growing as a character. Also listening to the delegates arguing was also funny.

The ending is the only part of the story I had major gripes with. I felt it be out of place and confusing. I won’t spoil the ending for you of course, but I felt like it was unnecessary.

Other than the one small nitpick, I found this novel to be enjoyable and yet terrifying in a realistic fashion. Makeup and beauty is such an important piece in a society that the thought of everyone looking like Tom Cruise or Jennifer Aniston is creepy.

If you enjoy satire and horror, this is worth checking out. I would also recommend this for people who love science fiction. I enjoyed this book and it will definitely be more of the memorable ones that I’ve read.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown

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*No Spoilers*

An explosive, true-life southern gothic story, Murder in the Bayou chronicles the twists and turns of a high-stakes investigation into the murders of eight women in a troubled Louisiana parish.

Between 2005 and 2009, the bodies of eight women were discovered around the murky canals and crawfish ponds of Jennings, Louisiana, a bayou town of 10,000 in the heart of the Jefferson Davis parish. Local law enforcement officials were quick to pursue a serial killer theory, opening a floodgate of media coverage—from CNN to The New York Times. Collectively the victims became known as the “Jeff Davis 8,” and their lives, their deaths, and the ongoing investigation reveal a small southern community’s most closely guarded secrets.

This True Crime novel interested me because I have never heard of the Jeff Davis 8 before. I also thought it’d be an interesting read because it’s a case not discussed very often.

This book investigates the murder of eight women who were involved in drug and prostitution world of Lousiana. As Mr. Brown is delving into this mystery, you begin to realize it goes much deeper than just a drug deal gone horribly wrong.

The discussion on corruption by the police force as well as the racial tensions makes this mystery much more enticing. You never find out who the real culprit is or whether it was a group of people involved or if it was a serial killer.

I would highly recommend this novel if you are a true crime buff and if unsolved cases peak your interests.