Beth's Book Review

May 31, 2021

Retro Review Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe When does a civilization begin to rot from its core?  What are the key issues that cause that civilization to die? These are the overarching questions that “the Father of African Literature,” Chinua Achebe, explores in his 1959 classic, Things ...

Read more »

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. Harper Perennial,  2013.   I first learned about this “unsolved American mystery,” when 48 Hours did a comprehensive show on the horrific discovery of four bodies wrapped in burlap sacks in 2010. The deceased were discovered on ...

Read more »

Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power by Neal Gabler. (Yale  Univ. Press, 2016). Stephen Spielberg: A Life in Films by Molly Haskell. (Yale Univ. Press, 2017)   My family complains each year at holiday time that I am impossible to buy gifts for. This is true ...

Read more »

The Persian Always Meows Twice: A Cat Groomer Mystery by Eileen Watkins.        (available on Amazon).           Cassie McGlone needs to start over, escape from an abusive ex-boyfriend, and establish a business of her own. An independent woman, Cassie moves to Chadwick, New Jersey (a ...

Read more »

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press, 2021)   We can’t quibble that Kristin Hannah is one of the most respected authors on the contemporary scene. Her new book, The Four Winds, is number 1 on the New York Times Book Review. Hannah is a wonderful storyteller, who frequently ...

Read more »

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman. (Harper Collins, 2017).   I am skeptical of the true crime genre because so much of it is poorly written and sells for its sensationalistic value ...

Read more »

Hungry Girl: Fast & Easy-All Natural Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2021)   Lisa Lillien is a good friend of mine. Oh, I have met her only once in person at a book signing at Wegman’s in Woodbridge, NJ, but I get an e-mail from her every week day from ...

Read more »

The Lost Boys by Faye Kellerman. (Harper Collins, 2021)   Faye Kellerman began the Peter Decker- Rina Lazarus series in 1986. In the first novel, police officer, Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD, is called in to investigate the rape of a woman, who was going home after taking a mikvah, the ...

Read more »

One Night in Miami      Film on Netflix It was February 25, 1965, Convention Hall in Miami, Florida. The hungry for glory, young Cassius Clay has whipped Sonny Liston to win the title of  Heavyweight Champion of the World. Looking for a way to celebrate his triumph, Clay joins three of his ...

Read more »

A Time For Mercy by John Grisham (Doubleday, 2020)   New York Times best selling author, John Grisham has set three novels in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi. Of the town, Grisham reflects, “A lot has been written about Clanton and many of its characters: Jake and Carla, Harry Rex, ...

Read more »

The Girls by Lori Lansens.  ( Back Bay Books, 2005)   I enjoy watching The Learning Channel’s hit show, Thousand Pound Sisters. Every time my husband, Tom, catches me watching it, he shakes his head and mutters, “I don’t know why you watch this show. . .” (To be fair, I don’t get The ...

Read more »

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult. (Random House, 2020)   Death has never been more a part of my consciousness than in the year 2020. We are getting daily death totals just like we used to get on the nightly news during the Vietnam War. But, death is not a subject that humans like to dwell ...

Read more »

Dear Martin by Nic Stone. (Ember, 2017) “Last night changed me. I don’t wanna walk around all pissed off, and looking for problems, but I know I can’t continue to pretend nothing’s wrong, Yeah, there are no more ‘colored’  water fountains, and it’s supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but if ...

Read more »

The Perfect Father by John Glatt (St. Martin’s Press, 2020)   John Glatt, a New York Times best-selling author, has penned a new book about a crime that shocked our nation with its haunting details. The Perfect Father served as the foundation for the original t.v. show,  American Murder:The ...

Read more »

The Guardians by John Grisham. (Dell, 2020) “Duke Russell is not guilty of the unspeakable crimes for which he was convicted; nonetheless, he is scheduled to be executed for them in one hour and forty-five minutes.” Are you hooked? I am. When I taught Creative Writing, one of the first ...

Read more »

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland (Simon & Schuster, 2020)   Month and Year: August 1926 Event: At the age of 21, the tenacious Trudy Ederly, a 1924 Olympic gold medalist in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay,  became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Read more »

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. (Simon & Schuster, 2020)   I admit it. I couldn’t wait to get my copy of Too Much and Never Enough by President Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump. Mary, whose father, Fred, was Donald’s  ...

Read more »

Retro Review The Source by James Michener, 1965.    It is nearly impossible to describe the scope of The Source, a remarkable historical novel by James Michener. Nearly 1000 pages long, the rich details about the evolution of humanity, from the days of the cave dwellings till the modern ...

Read more »

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Scribner, 2019) Stephen King’s fiction is alluring to his “Dear Readers” because King reveals much of his personal memories in his writing; childhood mischief, favorite comic books, and authors he considers worthwhile reading. King presents nightmares any author ...

Read more »

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni (William Morris/Harper Collins, 2020) In writing a contemporary novel in the Gothic tradition, it is impossible not to compare aspects of great Gothic novels that have come before. The excellent, new book, The Ancestor, by Danielle Trussoni fits the description ...

Read more »

Retro Review The Green Years by A.J. Cronin (Little, Brown and Co., 1944) The first review I wrote for the TAPinto franchise was When Books Went to War by Molly Guptil Manning. The book explained how the librarians in the United States held book drives to send reading material to the men on ...

Read more »

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben. (Grand Central Publishing, 2020)   A feral child, a missing teenage girl, and a wise-cracking, sharp-tongued television criminal attorney, and her teenage grandson, Matthew, are the central characters of Harlan Coben’s newest best-seller, The Boy from ...

Read more »

The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant (Inkubator Books, 2020)  Recently I was at a doctor’s appointment and my physician asked if I had read anything good lately. Then she offered a tip to read The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant.  The Good Neighbor starts off with an intriguing Prologue. In ...

Read more »

Food for Thought: Food History & Science Cooking Techniques  by Mark Vogel.   ( 2020). Are you suffering from cabin fever, having  been on “lockdown” for a week, facing a future of being housebound for who knows how long? I have a suggestion to help you pass the time in a productive and ...

Read more »

The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant (Inkubator Books, 2020)  Recently I was at a doctor’s appointment and my physician asked if I had read anything good lately. Then she offered a tip to read The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant.  The Good Neighbor starts off with an intriguing Prologue. In ...

Read more »

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown, 2018)   Who is “the perfect couple”in Elin Hilderbrand’s novel The Perfect Couple. Is it Greer Garrison Winbury, famous mystery author, and her husband, Tag, the owners of the Summerland estate on Nantucket? Is it the Winbury’s son, Benji ...

Read more »

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham  (Doubleday, 2015)   Quirky lawyers as protagonists make for fun reading if they are three-dimensional and believable. Take Mickey Haller, “the Lincoln lawyer,” from Michael Connelly’s series. Haller, a defender of bottom feeders like drug lords, bicycle gang ...

Read more »

Chaos: Charles Manson the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. John  O’Neill and Dan Piepenbring  (New York: Little Brown, 2019). It took me three weeks to read Chaos:Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. Although fascinating, with its detailed analysis of the ...

Read more »

Retro Review: Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk (Doubleday, 1955) A coming of age story, set in 1933, Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk is a novel that still speaks to us. Written in 1955, Wouk’s strengths are in his character development, themes, and elegant prose. What is especially ...

Read more »

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (Scout Press, 2019)   “3rd September 2017 Dear Mr. Wrexham, I know you don’t know me but please, please, please you have to help me.”   With this intriguing opening, Ruth Ware launches her fifth  novel, The Turn of the Key, a mystery reminiscent of ...

Read more »